The Beoplay M5 s a piece of clever engineering that gels thoughtful design with some serious skills. It also looks irresistibly seductive. Here’s my take this new WiFi Speaker from B&O.
Build Quality and Design
This speaker stands out in my humble home. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it on display at the Museé D’Orsay in Paris. A cylinder wrapped in acoustically transparent fabric by Danish textile maestro Kvadrat, and topped off with a solid disc of aluminium. The disc is designed as a highly responsive control panel. Gently press the disc with your fingers to start your music, join another M5 or switch between sources. Glide it 15 degrees either way to operate the volume, then lift your fingers and watch as it glides silently back into place. With such an understated design, there wasn’t a spot in my home that it couldn’t blend seamlessly into.
Performance and Features
The Beoplay M5 WiFi Speaker has some pretty essential skills like Airplay, Google ChromeCast, Bluetooth and DLNA. Its flexibility is one thing I love. Anytime I need bigger sound from an App (or game) on my iPhone, I could select the M5 from the control center. Direct streaming from Spotify Connect or Deezer is also supported – just tell it what to play from the BeoMusic App.
You can also get a few of these playing together all around the house, simply by tapping on a silent M5 to join one that’s already playing. But as yet, it does not support Stereo (L/R) channel pairing, which is a little disappointing. Alternatively, the M5 will tie in with your existing BeoLink-capable products for seamless Multi-Room streaming over WiFi. You cannot pair two M5 speakers to play in stereo though.
The Beoplay App will help you set it up, and select three different sound presets for freestanding, corner or wall placement. But unlike the Sonos App, it does not handle music streaming at all. For that, the separate BeoMusic App grants DLNA access into your NAS Server or phone’s music library.
If you’re like me and have trouble waking up on time, you can set the M5 up as an alarm clock with the BeoSetup App! After all, why not make the most of it and squeeze it for every bang of your buck?
And yes, it does come with a 3.5mm Audio Jack for that old CD player you can’t bear to ditch.
Despite its impressive specs, the M5’s Bluetooth streaming chops failed to impress. When watching videos over Airplay or ChromeCast you can expect no Audio/Video Sync issues, but over Bluetooth, there is a (roughly) two-second lag. I’m not convinced that it’s a hardware issue so I hope that B&O will correct this with a future firmware update.
The M5 is crammed to the brim with sonic goodness that spans the full frequency spectrum. One down-firing woofer, one mid-bass range driver and three tweeters, muscled by 130W of Class-D amplification. That may seem excessive given the speaker’s small size, but here B&O is aiming for a speaker that will punch well above its size class.
When it’s rigged like a beast you’d expect certain things from it, like weighty bass, lifelike mids and soaring highs. And the M5 largely delivered on the goods. It could go very loud, loud enough to cover an open concept living room. The M5 also has a very low noise floor and I was deeply impressed by its track separation. Even when I played high-intensity numbers like ‘Cake By The Ocean’ by DNCE, the M5 handled track separation effortlessly. When chilling to regular Jazz standards like Nat King Cole’s ‘Unforgettable’, his gravelly vocals were so rich and lifelike that I had to hit ‘repeat’.
It had pretty good air as well. But what it lacked was open stereo separation, no doubt caused by how the tweeters are arrayed (One front and two rear firing). But having a compact sound meant that it sounded just as good whether I was sitting in front of it or to its side.
The one thing I immediately noticed was the M5’s excessive bass. Bass-heads might relish it but I found it too bloated for my liking, even after switching it to the ‘Corner’ sound setting. I fixed it further by placing the M5 on some small rubber feet, and that seemed to solve the issue.
Overall the Beoplay M5 exceeded my expectations of what a small, compact speaker can achieve.
Priced at S$899 the Beoplay M5 may seem excessive to the regular joe. If you’re not in the market for a luxury product, the price wouldn’t make sense – for a little bit more, you could get a Sonos PLAY:5 or a Bose SoundTouch 30. But still, the timeless Beoplay M5 will infuse more style (and swag) into any home than its competitors. As such, I will rate it moderate value for money.
If you crave for very nice things, you’ll appreciate its opulent materials and fine attention to detail. You won’t miss on features you need. Besides, it also sounds pretty good! After all, what else can we expect from a luxury Danish brand?
So here’s the final tally:
Build Quality and Design (Wireless Speakers)
Pros: Irresistibly stylish design, small, wrapped in premium textiles and aluminium. Crammed with powerful drivers. Solid and hefty build quality with heavy focus on premium fit and finish. Simple controls in a form of a sleek solid aluminium disc.
Cons: None whatsoever.
Score: 4/4 (33.3%)
Performance and Features
Pros: Very low noise-floor and track separation. Muscular bass, lifelike mids and pristine highs, even and high volumes. Big sound from a small speaker. Supports Airplay, Google ChromeCast, Bluetooth and DLNA. Stream easily from any platform or App. Has a 3.5mm AUX input. Multi-Room streaming capabilities through BeoLink. Compatible with existing BeoLink-enabled products. Three audio presets for different placement situations. Alarm Clock function. No Audio/Video-Sync issues over WiFi streaming.
Cons: Does not have stereo separation. Cannot pair another M5 to play in stereo. AV Sync issues happen over Bluetooth.
Score: 11/14 (26.16%)
Score: 3/5 (19.98%)