B&O's Beoplay M5 wireless speaker has a lot of competition

But it's one I might actually want.

Billy Steele, @wmsteele
01.05.17 in AV
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    Bang and Olufsen revealed its pricey Beoplay A6 wireless speaker back in 2015. Here at CES, the company has a new model that also handles multiroom audio. The Beoplay M5 projects that trademark B&O sound 360 degrees from a device that's designed to be a showpiece rather than extra clutter. Just like the A6, wool speaker covers are interchangeable so you will have options for what looks best in your home.

    Gallery: Bang and Olufsen Beoplay M5 hands-on | 26 Photos

    In addition to multiroom audio, the Beoplay M5 features both Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity. That means Chromecast, AirPlay, Spotify Connect and the company's own Beolink are in play here. Another feature that's carried over from the A6 is dedicated sound settings for the location you place the speaker. Those changes are also handled by the B&O app. The M5 can be linked with the Beoplay A6 and Beoplay A9 to put tunes in more than one room. Like a number of speakers we're seeing this week, the latest Beoplay model also works with Google Home.

    To control music, you press down on the M5's aluminum top to play/pause and rotate it to adjust the volume. The spinning motion is only about 15 degrees, then the top comes back to its original position. If you have an M5 that's not in use, pressing down on the top will alert it to join the other Beoplay speakers in your home that are currently in use. The speaker doesn't do true stereo when you pair two of them together, but the idea here is to put devices in different rooms, not to link them for a single more robust setup.

    B&O calls that omnidirectional sound True360 and the M5 also uses the company's ambient tech to provide a simulated surround sound experience. The compact speaker's acoustics are capable of both beam direction and beam width control thanks to a new version of the technology from Bang and Olufsen's luxury BeoLab 90. This new M5 can also stream music up to 96KHz/24bit lossless, if you're into that sort of thing.

    We got a demo of the device and it's no surprise that the speaker sounds really good. Sound quality is usually a safe bet when it comes to B&O gear and that's certainly the case here. The M5 has a respectable amount of bass that's pushed out along the bottom of the unit and punchy highs that make for a warm well-rounded sound. The controls up top are super simple, which makes a rather enjoyable overall experience of interacting with it.

    Gallery: Bang and Olufsen Beoplay M5 product images | 25 Photos

    Design is also something B&O does well and it maintains that reputation with the M5. The cylinder does indeed provide a piece of decor rather than a speaker that looks like a speaker. It's much more compact that the Beoplay A6 and for that reason I could see it becoming a staple on a shelf or end table around my house more so than that larger model. The best part? B&O announced the M5 today and it's available today. That's almost unheard of for products introduced at CES. In terms of pricing, the speaker will set you back $599 (€599/£529) and comes in black and silver color options. Those swappable wool covers in a range of colors will be available at a later date.

    Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2017.

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