B&O PLAY by Bang & Olufsen Beoplay M3 Compact and Powerful Wireless Speaker
B&O PLAY by Bang & Olufsen Beoplay M3 Compact and Powerful Wireless Speaker
Price: CDN$ 399.00
I am not impressed and couldn’t recommend the speaker based on my experience, please see below for details.
I know this is a long winded review but there is so much that needs to be pointed out, most of it negative, that simply saying I don’t like it won’t suffice.
TL;DR – Average sounding speaker with serious connection issues. Until B&O updates the firmware and produces a decent user manual give this one a pass. There are better sounding and less costly options. Audio is just average, connectivity is horrible, and the only thing, in my opinion, that it has going for it is the looks.
For a B&O device I’m saddened by the performance, or lack thereof, of this speaker. I know it will irritate some people when I say this but I have Asian speakers which are on third the cost, sound better… and they’re wireless as well. The audio quality above bass frequency levels is average. The real pain I had with this device was connecting it to the app and getting it on the network. Most of this pain is due to the extremely poor user manual. I have $30 BT speakers from Asia that have better laid out manuals.
Fit and finish are beautiful, one thing that does show it’s a B&O product is the build and finish quality. This is a solid little unit that looks great where ever we put it. The size is small enough to place in or on most book shelves, end tables or entertainment units. You will however need to have an AC socket close by, the cord is only 5 feet (1.4 meters) long. The bottom is 95% covered with nice thick rubber coating that keeps it from moving around when thumping out heavy bass. In the bottom is a threaded connection for mounting on a tripod or other mounting fixture.
■ I tested with both iPhone and Android phones to make sure the issues I was experiencing weren’t because of a phone issue, both performed the same so this limits any below issues to the speaker.
■ The main reason I would buy a speaker is for listening to it and in this department, it falls short of expectations for a B&O device.
■ The audio recreation is not crisp, it’s comes across muddled, subtle background instruments are not easily distinguished
■ At anything above 75% volume the distortion starts and its very noticeable
■ Volume control is NOT linear meaning that as you adjust the volume up it very rapidly increases the volume – listening at 20% its very quiet and then at 80% it’s more like 150%, at 80% the speaker(s) are over driven
■ No matter how I adjusted the equalizer the reproduction was just average
■ The Play/Pause and volume up/down buttons are located at the top of the back side (???) making it hard to use them especially if the speaker is pushed back in a shelf or even when in the open if the back is close to a wall
■ The rear mounted volume buttons are wonky, when depressed they don’t work to make a volume adjustment every depression, it often takes two or three pushes to get any effect on the volume
► Because the manual is so poorly laid out it needs its own section. You can download the manual though the B&O app but it’s the same one that comes with the speaker so pretty much useless.
■ First off there isn’t a lot of info here, and zippo on how to use the app that’s required for network connectivity.
■ They’ve spread out various items that are covered, English is interspersed with other languages AND if you flip it over, start from the back page, there’s more information. I’ve never seen anything like this before. My third grade nephew looked at it and rightly said he could do better.
■ The box which is used to ship the speaker is a good size so they could have included a much better if not larger manual but they opted for one that’s only 3 inches (84mm) square which means the print is very small. When you consider that they cover 24 different languages it means that there can’t be a lot of info in this small of a manual.
■ The manual does indicate what the three rear mounted buttons are and what the two LED’s are used for but that’s it other than it shows where to connect the power cable.
■ There is nothing in the manual that indicates what the buttons which are in the bottom compartment are for, yes there are microscopic icons above both buttons, one that is a standard on/off icon the other, I have no idea but the button seems to work as a reset if depressed for several seconds.
■ There is a hole next to the buttons with what looks like a note icon and when inserting a 2.5mm audio cable plug it fits snug so I assume it’s an audio cable connection. I can’t recall the last time I had a device that used a 2.5mm audio jack, every phone I have or have had use 3.5mm jacks so I wasn’t able to test it through this connection.
■ There is a micro USB port located on the same panel but the manual says nothing about it.
► Connectivity isn’t great either.
When used with a BlueTooth connection it doesn’t reconnect automatically when power cycled or when the device goes out of range for an extended period. I need to bring up the BT settings and then make the phone reconnect. I’ve never had this on any of the other dozen BT speakers I have.
Connecting via the app was a royal PITA. First off when the app couldn’t find the speaker, I then tried using the manual method to connect which does nothing more than in a browser open up a web age where you can download the manual or watch YT videos on setting it up. The app doesn’t show the M3 as a device is recognizes (???) amongst the 15 devices it’s designed to work with. Once it actually did find the speaker it needed to update features. After a day I tried reconnecting and it repeatedly indicated that it could not update the newest features, please try again and would not connect. This goes on for half an hour each time I have to reconnect the app after using it on BT. Eventually it does see and connect to the speaker but what a time waster.
Both Spotify and tunein have problems connecting but they eventually do see and connect/play through the speaker.
■ When previously used on a network the speaker won’t reconnect via BlueTooth even when the network connection is unused. I need to literally unplug the speaker, boot up fresh, and then on the device have it connect to the speaker. Way too much work.
■ Going from BT to network/app connection also requires depressing and holding the little reset button (or power cycling) and then literally fiddling with the app for 10 minutes in order to have it find the speaker again… Le Sigh!!!
■ Network performance is decent but you need to have Google Chromecast or Apple Airplay.
♦ One thing I want to point out here is that the app requires access to your location info which makes no sense but every B&O device I have and want to set up via the app means I have to give them my location info, not something I’m happy doing as I see no need for it.
There is so much work to go from network to Bluetooth or vice versa that I’m simply going to leave it on BT as the range in this mode is very good.
I have a GGMM speaker, the GGMM E5 which is less money, sounds far better, is wireless and offers about 15 hours of playback on one charge, plus it has no issues with switching back and forth between BT to network connection. It also doesn’t require Chrome Cast or Airplay, instead it allows for using a number of free internet stations for music playback through its own app plus Spotify recognizes and plays back through it. It can also become part of the multi room configuration through the app.
I just hope that B&O has some sort of a plan to release new firmware that will address the above issues and make this a usable speaker for those of us who like to switch between BT and network connection and also allow for the use of other internet streaming other than Google and Apple services which not everyone wants.