Bang & Olufsen has launched a new wireless speaker with a modular design that could keep it up to spec for years. The Beosound Level includes swappable covers, a user-replaceable battery module and, most interestingly, a “streaming module” that could let you update the speaker’s wireless capabilities once they become obsolete.
The module, which contains the antenna array, digital signal processing (DSP) chip and other integral tech for its Wi-Fi and Bluetooth features, is designed to meet current connectivity standards. The idea is that once newer, better wireless technologies and more powerful DSP chips are developed, you’ll be able to send your Beosound Level back to Bang & Olufsen to get it replaced with an upgraded module.
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The company says it will add this streaming module to other upcoming products as well, so we could see a whole range of upgradable speakers. For now, the Beosound Level offers streaming through Spotify Connect, AirPlay 2 and Chromecast, and can optionally be fitted with Google Assistant for extra smarts.
The design is also flexible in that it can stand upright, lay flat or hang on a wall, and there are two distinct finish options: a Light Oak wooden cover or a Dark Grey fabric cover. Both lay over a pearl blasted aluminum chassis, and neither are cheap: the fabric model is $1,499 while the oak version will set you back $1,799.
You’ll also need to pay for streaming module replacements, once they exist, as well as replacement batteries. On that note, though, the Beoplay Level can last for 16 hours between charges, and the charger design is pretty neat. At the end of the power cable is a magnetic disc that easily sticks to the speaker’s rear panel, as opposed to a tiny proprietary jack.
If you’ve got cash to burn and none of the best Bluetooth speakers take your fancy, you can buy the Beosound Level direct from Bang & Olufsen. It’s probably worth some healthy skepticism about just how transformative the modular design will be: we don’t know when if and when it will be worth investing in a new streaming module, and the existing DSP can supposedly already handle software updates arriving in the more immediate future.
More generally, modular tech products don’t have a great track record on long-lasting support. Motorola’s Moto Mods project for phones has largely fallen by the wayside, as has the Acer Revo Build PC. Still, at the very least it’s encouraging to see Bang & Olufsen making the Beosound Level so repairable, with its removable covers and user-replaceable battery. That alone might be worth a shot even if you never upgrade the wireless capabilities.
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James is currently Hardware Editor at Rock Paper Shotgun, but before that was Audio Editor at Tom’s Guide, where he covered headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. A PC enthusiast, he also wrote computing and gaming news for TG, usually relating to how hard it is to find graphics card stock.