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If you’re hunting for the ideal portable wireless speaker just in time for summer, you know there are about a jillion of them on the market. With so much choice, it can be difficult to make a decision. While there are many brands out there, a pretty safe bet is to start with a well-known brand, which is why we decided to try the Bang and Olufsen Explore speaker.
Bang and Olufsen has a solid reputation for making great, crowd-pleasing products, so we decided to test out the Explore Speaker to see if it lives up to the brand’s reputation. Below you’ll find the full review on how it sounds, what it’s best used for, and if it’s worth buying.
- Beautiful design, love the green!
- Great sound quality
- Good battery life
- Can withstand water and dust
- Soda can-size and shape make it highly portable
- Support for Google & Alexa
- Needs to dry if it gets wet
- Bass is a tad thin
What You Get
The Explore is a soda can-size and shaped, battery-powered portable Bluetooth speaker, designed for pushing sound in all directions. It’s both waterproof and dirt/dust-proof, and it’s rated IP67 which means it should stand up to weather and splashing. It can even take being dropped in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes. This speaker is made to play in rooms from about 50-300 square feet.
Easy Bluetooth Set Up
Getting the Bang & Olufsen Explore set up and connected was quick and easy: Press the Bluetooth button and watch for a blue light, then use your phone’s Bluetooth menu and tap to complete the connection. Also available is the Bang & Olufsen app where you can see detailed battery life, use remote controls, adjust audio presets or create a stereo pair.
Balanced Audio Quality
The sound of the Explore is excellent and quite well balanced, with no lean to either the high or low end. Although the bass seemed a touch thin. Even so, it has great sound from any angle, including in my backyard where I found it was really effective at being able to fill the area.
I reviewed a variety of music styles and played tracks both indoors and outside. Both produced top-quality sound, the thinner bass is definitely noticeable on some musical tracks. However, the average person who just wants a light and portable travel speaker would not complain.
Being IP67 water and dust rated means I should able to use the Bang & Olufsen Explore near the water without any worry of breaking it by a quick dunk in the water. This speaker doesn’t float, so while it can withstand a quick dunk in shallow water, it’ll be gone forever if tipped into deep water.
Naturally, I tried dropping it in the pool to see what would happen and if it was in fact waterproof. When I fished the speaker out of the water it sounded rather buzzy, like the water was gumming up the outputs. I tried drying the speaker, and even shaking the water loose, but it just continued to sound muffled and hollow, not unlike the experience I had with its cousin, the Bang & Olufsen A1. After about 30 minutes the Explore was dry enough that fortunately, the sound was back to normal and didn’t seem to be affected by the drop in the pool.
Long Battery Life
Bang & Olufsen Explore is meant to be a take-it-with-you speaker for off-grid antics. For that reason, it boasts about 27 hours on a single charge, and in testing the battery life admirably hit that mark. This is outstandingly long for a battery-powered speaker and means you can leave the cables and the solar panels at home while camping. Recharging fully took about two hours.
Bang & Olufsen Explore is a cool-looking, compact, great-sounding portable speaker—and is dazzling in the new green hue all the brands are doing these days. The Explore sounds excellent, it’s very portable, waterproof, rugged, and can be linked up to Google or Alexa. The battery life is also impressive.
Downsides? The bass is a tad lean on this speaker but it’s not enough of a concern to prevent me from recommending it. Some folks may be more bothered by the speaker’s need to dry out fully after getting soaked.
So, Should You Buy It?
In short, I can absolutely recommend the Bang & Olufsen Explore if you’re looking for a cool, rugged portable Bluetooth speaker. This speaker is as good for hikers and outdoorsy types as it is for backyard gardeners and an afternoon by the pool. It also looks cool enough that you can put it in your living room and no one will notice it’s supposed to be a rugged outdoor take along.
How Long Will It Last?
I only had this speaker for about a week, which is not nearly enough time to gauge long-term durability, but I can say it feels solid: The metal build, silicone edging, and durable webbed carrying strap all seem well made.
What Are the Top Alternatives?
Bang Olufsen A1
Made more for at-home use with the inclusion of a speakerphone, Bang & Olufsen A1 is the cousin to the Explore. Also waterproof and dustproof, at IP67 this one is meant to be a prettier version for showing off around the house.
If you’ve got a hankering for more bass, consider Sony’s EXTRA BASS power in the XB13. It’s also IP67 waterproof and dustproof and small enough for your backpack.
Tribit StormBox Pro
I was surprised to find this inexpensive speaker has surprisingly good volume and sound quality. The Tribit StormBox has full, 360° sound, and it’s IP67 water and dust rated, for poolside or lakeside.