We’ve put the Beoplay M5 speaker in front of our expert listening panel and got hands on with the recently launched Beolit 17 to find out whether their hefty prices are justified.
These new wireless speakers from premium Scandinavian audio brand B&O are among the most expensive on the market at around £500 each.
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B&O Beoplay M5 – a multi-room speaker with stiff competition
We’ve come to expect fantastic build quality from B&O, and the Beoplay M5 (pictured right) is no different. The £530 price tag gets you an understatedly stylish but sturdy speaker, with high-end aluminium and a woollen grille. It stands a little taller than the Play:1 – the smallest speaker in the Sonos range. But its wider circumference means it should deliver a more powerful sound akin to the larger Sonos Play:3 and Play:5.
The Beoplay M5 is a mains-powered speaker and can stream music over your wi-fi network as well as a standard Bluetooth wireless connection. This allows it to adopt a raft of features that will work seamlessly with various devices and apps.
Built-in Spotify Connect means you can control the speaker directly from the Spotify app on your smartphone, while built-in Google Chromecast lets you do much the same for Google Play Music, TuneIn Radio and more. iPhone users can stream music easily with the M5’s built-in Apple AirPlay.
With such a swathe of wireless connectivity options, the Beoplay M5 is one of the most capable speakers out there, making streaming over wi-fi as easy as possible.
You can also connect multiple Beoplay M5s together to create a multi-room system. Sonos, Bose and Samsung all offer a range of multi-room speakers, meaning you can splash out on a £500 speaker for the living room, but can pair that with a cheaper £150 speaker in a bedroom. With no smaller or cheaper B&O multi-room speaker options, you will have to spend £530 on every speaker in your multi-room set-up. You could get the Sonos Play:1, Play:3 and Play:5 for less than it would cost for two Beoplay M5s.
Think this model could be the multi-room speaker for you? Visit our full Beoplay M5 review to find out whether it delivers a performance worthy of the price tag.
B&O Beolit 17 – a pricey portable speaker
At £450, this is one of the most expensive battery-powered speakers out there. Much like the Beoplay M5, it’s most likely to attract design-conscious folk willing to pay a premium for top-notch design and materials. It trades the woollen grille of the Beoplay M5 for more aluminium and adds a leather strap for portability.
But, at 2.5kg, can the Beolit 17 be considered truly portable? It’s among the heaviest portable speakers around – we’ve seen Best Buy models weighing as little as 300g. The Beolit 17 is a long way from the small, rugged speakers you throw into a rucksack before you head out and is likely to be a cumbersome travel companion. However, B&O claims it will last for up to 24 hours on a single charge – an impressive battery life if that proves to be accurate in our testing.
With that extra heft, you’ll expect a sound much more powerful than your average portable speaker. And, by specs alone, that’s certainly the case. But sound quality is much more than just power, which is why it’s not unusual to see small portable speakers outperforming big boisterous ones in our testing.
We’ll have full results from the lab – including the thoughts of our expert panel of listeners and a battery life test – in the coming months. In the meantime, take a look at our Beolit 17 first look review for our first impressions.