Looks great,Refined, weighty sound,Intuitive controls
Pricey,Can’t pair speakers in stereo,No AptX support
After the brand’s launch five years ago, B&O Play’s headphones and bluetooth speakers have offered a good, if expensively priced, audio experience paired with some great design.
Now the company is getting into the connected speaker space with the BeoPlay M5, the company’s first multi-room speaker that’s mains powered rather than running off batteries.
In case you were wondering, we were told that the ‘M’ in M5 somewhat confusingly stands for ‘movable’, which is odd considering the speaker needs to be plugged into the wall to function.
From what we were able to hear of the speaker at CES 2017 it certainly sounds and looks the part, although its functionality doesn’t quite match up to its main multi-room competitor, the cheaper Sonos Play:5.
The BeoPlay M5 is a short cylindrical speaker, similar in height to the Amazon Echo, but a great deal wider.
The exterior of the speaker is covered in a wool fabric, and although the two colors available, ‘natural’ (read: grey) and black are a little understated, we much prefer this fabric look to the all-plastic offerings from Sonos.
The top of the speaker is an aluminium disc, which rotates to turn the volume up or down, and can be pressed to play or pause the music.
Inside the speaker there are three tweeters (located on the front, left, and right), on mid-range speaker (located on the front), and a downward facing 5-inch subwoofer.
Set-up of the speaker is controlled through BeoPlay’s app, where you can pair several speakers together as part of a multi-room system. Unfortunately you’re unable to set up the speakers in stereo, with one speaker playing the left channel, and the other the right. Instead any paired speakers will all play exactly the same.
You can pair the speaker with any others in the B&O Play range that support Google Cast.
Once you’ve got the speaker connected, B&O Play supports a full range of streaming technologies including the aformentioned Google Cast, as well as Bluetooth (though not AptX) and AirPlay, amongst others.
Get some music playing and the BeoPlay M5 offers a weighty sound that easily filled the room we were demonstrated it in.
In fact, the bass was so present that we’re glad the BeoPlay app includes an equaliser for us to roll back the bass slightly, and regain a little more definition in the mids and highs, which we felt suffered a little at high volumes.
The speaker certainly sounded good, but we’re less certain the sound quality justifies the price premium over the likes of Sonos.
If you’re playing music through multiple speakers, then you can control individual speaker levels by turning the volume up and down on the units directly, to allow you to balance the sound throughout your home.
The BeoPlay M5 is a seriously nice looking speaker and thankfully, considering the $599 (£529/AU$899) price point, it’s no slouch in the sound department either.
Bass has a nice weight, and the mid-range driver and three tweeters ensure that the overall sound is mostly balanced, and has an acceptable amount of stereo separation.
We would have liked the multi-room capabilities to have been more extensive, with support for pairing speakers together as a stereo pair, but at least there are a good amount of connectivity options ranging from AirPlay to Google Cast.
We can’t wait to test out the speaker more fully in our labs, so stay tuned for our full review.