After being impressed with the B&O H95 headphones, we decided to go ahead and buy the Beosound Balance.
This is our impression, after about a month of listening to it.
Build quality and user-friendliness are top-notch as you would expect from a €2000 speaker. The design is very basic. It looks more like a lamp than a speaker, and for many this might be a good thing. It does not look like a €2000 object however, if you care for that.
It has the Google voice-assistant build-in, but you can switch that off. We put it next to a Google Hub, and it worked perfectly. At first, we were afraid both would start to answer to us, but they seem to be aware of each other after registering the Balance in the Google Home app. So they never interfere with each other.
The reason for the high price is not in how it looks, but because of what’s inside. Bang & Olufsen used top-quality DAC’s and amplifiers. A lot of amplifiers, actually. And they put their magic sauce over it all to make it sound incredible.
But, just as with the H95, that incredible sound will not be obvious when you first listen to it. The Beosound Balance uses the same sound profile that the H95 uses. So, no punchy dynamic sound right from the start to impress you. But a very balanced smooth, detailed and rich sound. It takes a couple of hours of listening and good quality recordings to appreciate the sound.
And just as with the H95, this speaker can produce an incredible amount of bass, but only produces it when it is present on the original source. Most other speakers on the market will add mid-bass to “enhance” the sound. This gives an impressively warm and punchy sound that many people will like but takes away a lot of clarity and detail at the same time. This can also be very tiring after a while. The Beosound Balance is the opposite of this: it is very relaxing to listen to and never gets tiring. But it does require a good recording. Bad recordings will truly sound bad, just as with the H95 and with most high-end systems.
And boy, does it sound good when you play a good recording. I often stop doing what I do because I am struck with the sound, and then I look amazed at the little speaker. Vocals and acoustic instruments sound like they should. Drums are breathtakingly realistic. Just as with the H95.
And yes, it can play very loud, but that is not what it is meant for. It shines when it is played at moderate volume. The sound always fills the room, and you really think there is a very big high-end system playing somewhere. We would compare it a bit to the little Marshall Stockwell II that we reviewed. That one also plays remarkably at low volumes and gives you the impression that a big system is playing. The Beosound Balance is like the big, more powerful, brother of this, while The Marshall Tufton failed miserably at that and never produced a pleasing sound. The Beosound Balance now replaced our Tufton and even our big hi-fi.
If you like the punchy sound of a JBL Boombox, then the Beosound Balance might not be a good choice for you. But if you like the sound of a high-end hi-fi system, then the Beosound Balance is truly the only Bluetooth speaker that can provide this.
You might think that a Bluetooth speaker can never provide great sound quality, but that is simply not true. Modern Bluetooth codecs can provide CD-quality sound, and even better. Sound quality will depend greatly on the device you are using (the codec the device uses is the determining factor, not the DAC or amplifier, because these are not used for Bluetooth streaming) and the quality of the recording. If you use services that use Google Chromecast or Apple Airplay to stream, the quality will depend on the quality that the service offers.
For many years we have been listening to a pair of Bowers & Wilkins Matrix speakers, coupled to a high-end amplifier and CD player, and we can truly say that the Beosound Balance sounds exactly the same. Of course, you never get the high volumes and stereo-separation that a big high-end hi-fi setup can give you, but the detail, balance, and overall impression of the sound quality are the same.
The Beosound Balance is truly a mini high-end hi-fi. Perfect for smaller rooms and apartments if you want high-end sound.