B&O Beoplay M5 Review
After the A6 and A9, Beoplay M5 is B&O Play’s third sedentary multiroom speaker. The exercise is therefore not unknown to the Danish manufacturer, and yet, this cylindrical monolith gave us a lot of trouble.
- Very powerful.
- Manufacture and finishes very worked.
- Chromecast compatibility.
- B&O Play / BeoLink app is unusable.
- Infernal latency in Bluetooth.
- A serious boomy and imprecise.
- Highs to set back.
- Heterogeneous 360° rendering.
- No USB port.
Ergonomics of B&O Beoplay M5
The B&O Beoplay M5 is the pure fruit of the aesthetic tradition of B&O Play. Elegant and discreet, the speaker is adorned with a Kyadrat wool dress covering a large part of its cylindrical polymer frame. The latter is compressed between two plates; the lower one, also in polymer, supports the enclosure, while the upper one, in brushed aluminum, serves as a control panel. The M5 benefits from a good quality of manufacture and finish; there is nothing to criticize it on this point. Moreover, its shape and substantial weight (more than 2.5 kg) allow it to hold perfectly in place.
The Beoplay M5 is not intended to walk around the house. It requires constant main power. It’s not the most versatile wireless speaker of this size, but there is still plenty to choose from. Above all, it relies on wireless connection thanks to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and Multiroom, AirPlay, Chromecast functions with Spotify Connect and Deezer compatibility. The only wired connectors offered are the RJ45 and a 3.5 mm mini-jack / optical Toslink jack combo.
The volume control is done via a pivot on the left or the right. The pause/play is done by pressing once, and the source change by pressing twice. Unfortunately, the M5 does not offer navigation between tracks.
The minimalism of Beoplay M5 does not only apply to the design but also the user experience. It isn’t easy to understand how it works from the first uses, especially for neophytes. We advise you to read the instructions to save time.
The upper roller (the control panel) is certainly very discreet, but it lacks responsiveness if you want to raise/lower the listening volume quickly, for example. Turning the speaker on/off, which is done via a small button under the speaker, is also not very practical when you are used to turning off your device after each use. We can also mention the absence of a volume indicator, or at least when the min/max volume is reached.
Two LEDs indicate the selected source and the status of the enclosure. In addition, some sound alerts are also present (ignition, Bluetooth status, network connection, etc.).
It has very trivial weak points next to the Wi-Fi configuration. Indeed, the B&O Beoplay M5 is very capricious to connect to the network. Even with three completely different home networks, we only connected the speaker on two real occasions; the fault was with the B&O Play application in charge of the configuration.
Please do not rely on its error messages and constantly insist (restarting the speaker, resetting, killing the application, and restarting it) to wait for confirmation from the speaker itself. Once done, it can be used without difficulty, including with Spotify Connect and AirPlay. Fortunately, Bluetooth pairing is done in a jiffy.
Our great patience and hundreds of tries have not been right for the B&O Play application. Whether on Android or iOS, the result is the same: access to advanced options is extremely difficult. At best, the speaker ends up being recognized for a few minutes by the application after a laborious Wi-Fi association configuration, but this only lasts a very short time.
Beoplay M5 is compatible with BeoLink, Bang & Olufsen’s multiroom. We are therefore entitled to expect full recognition of the appropriate application. Unfortunately, our few attempts were unsuccessful; our two M5s were not recognized. For the multiroom, you can ultimately use Chromecast and its Google Home application; this app works fine.
Attention ears, the Beoplay M5 promises a frequency response of 37 Hz to 22 kHz thanks to its three tweeters of 0.75″, its 1.5″ woofer, and its 5″ subwoofer. In addition, the set would allow a 360° diffusion.
Frequency response measurement: cabinet at 0° (black), 90° (green), 180° (blue) and 270° (red). The reality is quite different; the sound reproduction, excessively focused on the bass, is deaf and far too blunt. Even if it goes down particularly low, the bass is not well controlled.
We first perceive very exaggerated and imprecise pressure as a roar at the extreme bass/bass limit. The distortion peak seen in our measurement is a good illustration of this phenomenon. In addition, it is accentuated by a localized peak around 180 Hz, which exacerbates the boomy side of this area.
This affects, for example, the bass, the bass drum – more generally the large percussion -or the piano. However, voices remain intelligible thanks to better precision in the upper frequencies and a small boost between 600 and 1.5 kHz.
However, they are still very warm because the high-mids / highs are set back. So if you like even a little clarity and brilliance, go your way. The presence of two corrections EQs in the B&O Play application could perhaps have fixed things a little, but its recurring malfunction prevents us from checking it.
The speaker offers a particularly heterogeneous 360° diffusion to make matters worse. As soon as you turn the enclosure, you immediately lose the high mids and highs, which intensifies the hegemony of the bass. Measurement of the Harmonic Distortion Rate expressed as a percentage.
Apart from the poor observation of the distortion measurement, the B&O Beoplay M5 still shows excellent power. However, we still advise you to stay below 70% of the maximum volume to not suffer too much from the distortion peak.
Impulse response measurement: Bluetooth communication latency
The highlight of the show, the communication latency, relatively contained in Wi-Fi, flies Bluetooth to reach the second delay between the sound and the image (or simply between the request for a sound and its effective reproduction). It is simply impossible to follow a video in these conditions.
The Beoplay M5 may benefit from very good quality manufacturing, but it disappoints on many points. Apart from the difficulties of use linked to the B&O Play application, its audio rendering lacks control of the bass and neglects the treble.
In addition, the omnidirectional sound diffusion is far from being at the rendezvous. So if you’re looking for a speaker like this for your home, head to the Libratone Zipp instead; you may not gain power, but you will win on all other counts.