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Bang & Olufsen’s Beosound Balance is a nice-looking Google Home alternative that costs $2,250

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It probably sounds better than Google’s $99 speaker

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High-end audio company Bang & Olufsen is no stranger to expensive speakers, so it’s not really a surprise that the company’s latest product, the rather nice-looking Beosound Balance, costs $2,250.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s a very attractively designed speaker, elevating the standard “fabric mesh-covered cylinder” that’s become popular these days with a solid oak base (which also houses one of the bass drivers) and clean aluminum accents. Bang & Olufsen even points out how the aluminum grilles are drilled in “a Fibonacci pattern,” which is definitely the sort of attention to detail you’d expect from a speaker with a comma in the price tag.

But it’s effectively a $2,250 Google Home, albeit one that looks better and almost certainly sounds excellent — even if it’s probably not $2,000-plus excellent. As with most Bang & Olufsen’s pricey speakers (some of which can cost upwards of $40,000), you’ll be paying a premium for the design, the materials, and the brand name.

Bang & Olufsen also took care to make sure that the Beosound Balance doesn’t look like an actual speaker when it’s not in use: there are proximity sensors built into the aluminum control panel on top, causing the touch-sensitive buttons to only light up and appear when you’re using them.

As for the hardware, the Beosound Balance offers two 5.25-inch bass drivers, two 2-inch full-range drivers, one 3/4 tweeter, and two 3-inch full-range drivers are at the back “that act as sound enhancers.” There’s also built-in Chromecast Audio and Google Assistant support, along with AirPlay 2, Bluetooth, and a regular analog line-in option. Got $4,500? Then you can take advantage of the option to stereo pair two Beosound Balances.

Like other microphone-equipped speakers (including Apple’s HomePod) the Beosound Balance has what Bang & Olufsen calls “Active Room Compensation” capabilities, which listens to the way audio sounds in your specific room setup and customizes the sound of the speaker accordingly. And for those who’d prefer their smart speaker didn’t listen to them, there’s also a mic mute switch.

The Beosound Balance is on sale from Bang & Olufsen today for $2,250. It comes in either a gray / natural oak design or a stealthy solid-color black oak option.

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