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Philips' izzy offers simple take on multiroom audio

...if you don't mind Bluetooth.

Billy Steele , @wmsteele
01.07.16 in AV
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As expected, a number of companies debuted multiroom audio gear here at CES, but Philips aims to make its system the easiest to use. With the izzy line of speakers, the company's goal is simplicity while still offering all of the perks of a multiroom setup. To accomplish that, the izzy speakers don't require an app to get going. Instead, the speakers create their own network by using so-called izzylink tech to pair with each other. When I asked if users should be concerned about range, a Philips rep assured me it wouldn't be an issue. I look forward to putting that to the test in the future.

Gallery: Philips izzy multi-room speakers hands-on | 16 Photos

Once the device you want to beam music from is connected to one of the speakers, all you have to do is hit the Group button to link the rest of the gear. During the demo, it really was quick and easy. There are color indicators to let you know which unit is the master and which ones are simply amplifying the sound. When everything is linked, you're ready to fire up Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal or any other app you use to spin tunes.

If you're still hanging on to that CD collection, the BM50 in the izzy series will play those discs and house a radio tuner, too. Sure, most folks don't use either of those two methods at home these days, but for those who do, it's available. And yes, CD tracks and radio broadcasts can be beamed to the other speakers. In terms of controls, Philips once again kept it simple. There's a play/pause button and a metal volume knob on the BM5 and BM7 speakers, and the BM6 has buttons for level changes. The BM6 is slightly different because you can use it as a portable wireless speaker. It's also IPX4-rated, so you can take it in the kitchen or to the park without the worry a splash of water will ruin it.

Unfortunately, I can't speak to the sound quality because my demo took place in a noisy CES tent. However, I can say that using the system did indeed seem quite simple and easy to use. It's just like using a Bluetooth device, only these speakers allow for multiroom audio without have to jump into a dedicated app. I'm not sure that'll be an issue for folks who are familiar with similar gear like Sonos and Sony's speakers, but I can see how it could help the less tech savvy. Of course, you have to settle for Bluetooth quality, as these gadgets don't support the likes of Google Cast or Spotify Connect for better audio. If you can live with that caveat, the BM5 is available now for $130, but you'll have to wait until the spring to get a hold of the rest.

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