A perfect addition to any camping weekend backpack, the Beosound Explore is an excellent outdoor travel companion. It’s not too pricy either, and you won’t worry about it being damaged with its robust aluminum shell.
It’s super sturdy and premium
Restrained but pleasant sound profile
Incredible battery life
Could be bassier
Not great Hi-res audio format support
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Small, outdoorsy speakers are available in their multitudes, with loads of options from established audio brands. Not many of them, however, boast being super premium to go with their rugged outers – until luxury audio brand Bang & Olufsen got in on the action.
The Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore is a gorgeous-looking little coffee cup of a speaker, built like a velvet-lined tank and dripping with style. It’s also designed from the ground up to be durable and ready for getting out and about, and is surprisingly well-priced for such a decently appointed speaker from a widely known maker of high-end audio gear.
I've tested speakers of all shapes, types, and sizes. I covered the Sonos Era 300 launch and then got to test it on release. I use and test all the audio gear that ends up on site, evaluating it with a critical ear to make sure that it's up to scratch, and then letting you know if it's something you should buy.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore: Price and availability
With its aluminum-clad outer and toughened top and bottom to go with the Bang & Olufsen logo across the front, you’d think that the Beosound Explore would be really expensive. You’ll be surprised, however, when you find out that it’s $199/£169 instead.
That's not a cheap price, per se, but it’s a lot better than it could be. And given the impressive volume that this little guy pumps out, it more than hangs out with the likes of the Marshall Stanmore or the UE Megaboom 3. The price then is more reasonable than you might first expect.
You can get a hold of one from all good retail outlets, including the Bang & Olufsen website itself. There are five different colors available, including Navy, a gray called ‘Gray Mist’, Green, Chesnut, and Black Anthracite.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore: What I liked
I’m used to Bang & Olufsen feeling really well made, with loads of metal everywhere and other premium materials used all over the place. The Beosound Explore takes it one step further – it is dense. It looks kind of like a musical coffee cup, clad in strips of aluminum around the edge and soft-touch rubbery plastic across the top. There’s a premium feeling strap on the back as well, which is actually one of the coolest features of the speaker.
With that strap, you can attach a carabiner that comes in the box (A kind of heavy-duty clip), and use that to clip your speaker to your bag, a tree branch, or a tent roof, etc. You get the picture. While heavy for its size, it’s still relatively lightweight, so you’re unlikely to notice it hanging from your bag on a hike. It's a lovely extra feature, and it makes it just that bit more functional and portable than it could have otherwise been. To add to that rugged cool factor, there’s IP67 dust and water resistance, so you won’t have to worry about the speaker getting wet, and accidental dunks in lakes or streams won’t be a problem.
The controls on the top work super well, with a power button, a play/pause button, skip forward and back buttons, and a Bluetooth connection button. They all have positive feedback under your fingers, and they are well-placed and easy to press with gloves on.
Battery life is particularly strong, with up to 27 hours of battery life on a single charge. It’s currently lasted me through two full 8-hour workdays at about mid-volume, so I have no doubts that it’ll last plenty of time out in the wilderness. Charging is achieved with a USB C port on the back, and it will charge in two hours. No fast charging here, unfortunately.
If you want to see the battery life indicator in more than just a colored light, then you’ll want the excellent Bang & Olufsen app. It’s a pretty affair with all the options on board that you might need, and you’ll even be able to connect two together for stereo sound. You can change the sound profile of the speaker within the app as well, with presets as well as a nice graphical equalizer – although, from my experience, you’ll neither need nor want to.
The Beosound Explore sounds really, really good. Not perfect, but still very solid, especially for something so small. There’s 360-degree sound here, so no matter where you are in relation to the speaker, it’s going to sound the same as what everyone else can hear. It is somewhat directional in that you’ll know where the speaker is when music is playing, but Spatial Audio is reserved for more expensive and larger options.
The sound is actually fairly restrained. There’s some great mid-range girth, making the music sound nice and well-rounded, and the high-end detail is good without being tiring or fatiguing. It could perhaps do with a spacier bass response – what’s there is good, but it could do with a little more in the lowest frequencies.
It’s exemplary when listening to something like Alfa Mists Breathe, bringing just the right amount of kick and punch to the smooth jazz track, effortlessly reproducing the vocal line and the sax. It’s a great listen and one that you’ll love when you’ve got the speaker in its natural environment – the great outdoors.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore: What I didn’t like
There’s not much not to like here, in complete honesty. It’s not the perfect speaker, but it gets close within each category. The sound is good, the battery life is excellent, it looks stunning, and it's super durable. It would be nice to have more hi-res track options available, such as LDAC, but it's small enough that you’re not really going to notice any difference in sound quality.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore: Competition
There are some other great options out there for the price, but they all have slightly different pros and cons. The Soundcore Motion Boom Plus is a monster of an outdoor speaker that goes unreasonably loud and costs less, but it is massive, so if you’re after something smaller, then the B&O takes the cake.
The JBL Flip 6 is another good option, although it's less sonically refined and doesn’t feel quite as premium. The B&O does cost more, however. The UE Boom is another good option that costs less but also doesn’t sound as good.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore: Verdict
The Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore is a great portable speaker which looks the part and sounds fantastic. If you pay the $200 entry fee, you’ll find a great little speaker under the aluminum shell. There are other options out there that offer perhaps slightly lower prices, but none of them sound or look as good as the Beosound Explore.
A lump of aluminum with some drivers in it
This rugged little beer can shaped speaker is a fantastic option if you’re looking for an outdoor speaker with looks and sound quality. There may be other options out there, but this is a solid choice.
As iMore's Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she's got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won't find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.