Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore REVIEW
It’s got a saucy ribbed design and – as befits the B&O name – nicely balanced sound attributes. PAT PILCHER reviews the Beosound Explore.
Call me crazy, but as daylight saving began to make itself known, I naively thought summer was on its way. Disillusioned and sitting huddled over a heater as I write this, I am still hankering for those long warm evenings and catch-ups with friends around the BBQ over a few cold beers. Of course, no summer BBQ session is complete without some sounds, and this is precisely where the Bang & Olufsen Explore comes into play.
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The Explore is a small, stylish, portable speaker positioned as an upmarket competitor to other pint-sized Bluetooth speakers. Unlike its mostly Tupperware-clad competition, its slick aluminium finish feels built to withstand thermonuclear war.
Looks-wise, the Explore is an attractive cylindrical unit. It isn’t pocketable, unless you have exceptionally big pockets and enjoy looking like you’ve overdosed on Viagra. Still, it will easily fit into a laptop bag or that nook beside the BBQ. Its ribbed design (for your listening pleasure, of course!) and clean aluminium finish gives it the sort of pleasing look you’d expect from Bang & Olufsen gear. Its design also means that while the Explore isn’t super heavy – taking it to the beach won’t kill it or you – it is built to take the odd knock and last.
Its underside sensibly has a rubberised finish, ensuring it is less likely to slip off whatever surface it is resting on. It comes in several different colours. My review unit was finished in Black Anthracite, giving it a chic Darth Vader style. You can also get the Explore in a Grey Mist and Green finish. Its size and design make it easy to handle, and its waterproof controls are on its top.
The Explore is also IP67-rated. This means it’ll work in dusty or wet environments (B&O’s blurb says It’ll keep functioning in up to 1m of water for 30 minutes). As the spouses of many a Witchdoctor reader can attest, good things do come in small packages. This is especially true with the Explore. It is not only beautifully constructed and designed, but it also cranks out surprisingly decent audio for its petite size.
Sound-wise, the Explore offers up some well-balanced audio. This is largely due to twin 1.8-inch full-range drivers that are paired with twin 30W Class D amplifiers. Having tweaked its output using the B&O Android app, I found its bass controlled but not muddy or over the top. Its midrange output is warm and its treble detailed but not harsh or shrill.
We are dealing with a single small speaker, so I wasn’t expecting an immersive sound. I wasn’t disappointed. While it does have a 360-degree sound field, audio still sounded like it was coming from a single smallish speaker. I was, however, impressed by how well the Explore handled louder listening levels. Cranking it up saw it delivering mostly distortion-free audio that was loud enough to annoy the neighbours as I sizzled something on the BBQ. Nice!
The Explore uses Bluetooth 5.2 and managed to crank out tunage in a looped test for a whopping 26 hours and 35 minutes before it finally demanded quality time with a charger. Your mileage will vary as listening levels and distance from the Bluetooth source will both play a role in battery life. Compared to the 9-10 hours I got with the Sonos Roam, the Explore’s performance is not too shabby at all. That said, a few bells and whistles are missing. I was surprised to note that the Google Assistant and Alexa were both MIA. Additionally, there was no 3.5mm input socket, which makes connecting non-Bluetooth audio sources tricky.
As you’ve probably already guessed, I’ve become a bit of a fan of the Explore. I love its size and its design is easy on the eyes. Its audio might not be huge, but it is well balanced. Add in a battery that just keeps on and on and it isn’t hard to see why the Explore is a winner.