Hi-Fi Corner: Check out Bang & Olufsen’s $600 Bluetooth basket of sound

bang-olufsen-beolit-15-019-970x646-c

What’s more impressive than a $400 Bluetooth speaker’s coming-out party? How about a $600 followup? Say hello to Bang & Olufsen’s second-ever Bluetooth speaker, the Beolit 15. It’s a luxe little basket of omnidirectional sound that looks to raise the game — in both price and performance — for B&O’s Bluetooth department.

Having only recently acquiesced to enter the blooming Bluetooth speaker market with the Beoplay A2, B&O has doubled down with a new device that raises the stakes even higher than before. Those familiar with Bang & Olufsen’s rich history in wireless audio will recognize the boxy design of the Beolit 15, which borrows heavily from the company’s Beolit 12 AirPlay speaker.

Related: Archt One is a futuristic speaker that shoots sound in all directions

With this latest iteration, B&O claims to have refined the design into “the best music system of its kind on the planet.” Interestingly, B&O claims the speaker presents a “forceful and clean” sound signature — an apt description of the A2, which offers laser-etched detail, but whose midrange can be a little aggressive on sharper tracks. The big draw for both speakers is the voluminous sound performance, thanks to the addition of B&O’s True360 technology which helps to deliver a wide burst of room-filling sound.

The Beolit 15 is powered by dual amplifiers that push a claimed 240 watts of total system power. The amplifiers are split between a single 5 ½-inch long stroke full-range driver, and three 1 ½-inch tweeters, two of which are placed at angles along the front borders, with the remaining slung around back. The active drivers are supplemented with dual 4-inch passive radiators for better bass response, all of which is packed into a robust polymer chassis adorned with an anodized aluminum grill, and affixed with a full grain leather strap.

Bluetooth 4.0 ensures efficient wireless playback with no need for a Wi-Fi signal, and like the A2, B&O also claims a monstrous battery runtime of “up to 24 hours,” though we found that number shrank significantly when playing the A2 at or above medium volume levels. B&O gives the same warning on its website, saying “if a product can play extremely loud, and you turn the volume all the way up, it uses a lot more energy.”

Obviously there’s a wealth of engineering packed into this premium tote-able speaker, but the real question remains: Is any Bluetooth speaker worth $600? Even the less expensive Beoplay A2 tests the price-to-performance ratio, especially for the budget conscious, so the Beolit 15 will have to provide a striking performance improvement to make it worth consideration. While we can’t determine if this speaker is worthy of its hefty price tag, we’re eager to find out.

The new Beolit 15 will be available in Natural Champagne, Polar Blue, and Shade Rosa accents sometime in March. If you’re interested, you can sign up for notification of availability at Bang & Olufsen’s website.