The Beoplay M3 ($299) is the smallest and most affordable wireless multiroom speaker by B&O Play, a division of Bang & Olufsen. The speaker joins the company’s other high-end wireless speakers, including the Beoplay A6 ($799), Beoplay A9 ($2,699) and Beoplay M5 ($599), all of which can be paired together in a multiroom system or with any other Chromecast-enabled speakers. Essentially, it’s Bang & Olufsen’s entry-level competitor to the Sonos Play:1. The question then becomes: If you’re looking to buy a multiroom speaker system, which should you buy?
The Good: The M3 has built-in support for all the major streaming services, including Spotify Connect, AirPlay, Google Cast and Bluetooth. You should be able to group it with a Google Home to give it voice commands (though I didn’t test it with a Google Home). The M3 sounds very good, as you would expect from a B&O speaker, boasting a 0.75-inch tweeter and a 3.75-inch woofer that are both powered by 40-watt Class-D amps. Its bass is impressive compared to wifi speakers of similar size. This is a well-designed speaker that looks good, too — you can swap out the cover; options include aluminum and wool.
Who They’re For: Anybody who loves the signature look and sound of Bang & Olufsen speakers, but still wants something entry-level. Also, if spending a little more is a non-issue.
Watch Out For: The M3 is expensive, especially when you consider that it sounds and looks very similar to the Sonos Play:1, which could be bought for as little as $149 during the holidays. By itself, the M3 is a mono speaker — incapable of stereo sound — but you can designate left or right channels if you pair two speakers together. To set up in a multiroom system, you need to stream music over Google Chromecast, meaning you need another app to do so, which just complicates things. Also, no voice support.
Alternatives: The Sonos Play:1 ($199) is the obvious competitor. It’s similar in design and sound quality; it’s also cheaper. The Riva Arena ($250) also supports a number streaming services. The Google Home Max ($399) is larger and more expensive, but offers seamless Chromecast integration (no need to touch a third-party app) and voice commands with Google Assistant.
Review: I listened to the M3 in our office for the better part of two weeks. The majority of the time, I had it paired with the larger M5. The two speakers are pretty different in terms of sound: The M5 is a larger, louder 360-degree speaker, best placed in the middle of the room, while the M3 is very much a mono-directional speaker — it doesn’t sound great if the speaker isn’t aimed at you.
The two speakers do share the same Beoplay app, though, which allows users easily tweak each speakers’ EQ; there are preset settings to make each speaker sound more “relaxed,” “bright,” “warm” or “excited.” There is room optimizing settings, too, to tune each speaker so it sounds best when placed in a corner, near a wall, or in the middle of a room. It’s kind of like Sonos’s Trueplay tuning, but probably less exact. (I say it’s “less exact” because you tune the speaker by checking a box in the Beoplay app, as opposed to Sonos making you wave your phone around the room for several minutes.)
The Beoplay M3 isn’t a Sonos killer — it’s a great sounding-yet-expensive alternative.
The sound quality of the M3 is what you’d expect from a B&O speaker: very good. I tested it using my iPhone X as the music source and mainly streamed Spotify tracks over Google Cast (multiroom) or Spotify Connect. The speaker’s bass is well pronounced, yet not overly overpowering when played at low and medium volumes. Tracks like Imagine Dragons’ “Walk on Water” and Ra Ra Riot’s “Water” were thumping with strong and lucid vocals. When blasted — and the M3 gets really loud — the speaker limits the bass to preserve sound quality, but the mids and highs remain really clear. Softer tracks, like London Grammar’s “Trials” and The Beatles’ “Blackbird,” sound really rich, with great mids and highs, especially when played at medium volumes.
Verdict: There area few areas where the M3 could improve. The initial multiroom setup, navigating between the Google Home and Beoplay apps, was a little cumbersome. Adjusting the volume of individual speakers when grouped together could be better, too. (There’s no way to increase the volume of the M3 without changing the volume of the M5 in the Spotify, Google Home or Beoplay apps. To adjust the volumes on individual speakers in a multiroom setup, I had to download a fourth app — the Bang & Olufsen app.) And the all the hype around design, the M3 looks very very similar to the Sonos Play:1. And then there’s the price.
The Beoplay M3 isn’t a Sonos killer — it’s a great sounding-yet-expensive alternative. If you want a multiroom speaker that’s not a Sonos Play:1 or Sonos One, or if you like the look of it, or if you’re looking to build out a multiroom speaker with other Beoplay speakers, then you should buy B&O Play Beoplay M3. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a defining feature that justifies its high price or makes it that much better than a Sonos speaker.
What Others Are Saying:
• “There’s no shortage of bass response here—at times, such as while listening to “Feel Right,” the bass seemed to step on the mid- and high frequencies—but only a bit. Once I adjusted the speaker’s EQ settings, the song retained all its thump without losing the shrill clarity of the track’s brass work.” — Séamus Bellamy, TechHive
• “The M3 feels like it was designed to be used in conjunction with several of B&O Play’s other multi-room speakers throughout your home, but as a standalone product, we prefer other options, like the Sonos One, which has the added benefit of voice control.” — Tim Gideon, PCMag
• “A smart-looking and powerful multi-room speaker, the Beoplay M3 suits the smaller room. Supporting every major wireless streaming protocol, the Beoplay M3 is also incredibly flexible, even giving you voice control via the Google Assistant.” — David Ludlow, Tech Radar
Drivers: 3.75-inch woofer, 3/4-inch tweeter
Frequency Range: 65-22,000Hz
Streaming Support: AirPlay, Spotify Connect, Bluetooth, Chromecast built-in