Like sleeve tattoos and ugly-concealing facial fluff, multi-room speaker systems are just a bit popular right now. The world and its deaf dog has heard of Sonos, which seems to be the new thumping heart of every tech buff’s house and hip office I visit these days. Philips has jumped on the bandwagon (tourbus?) with its Izzy BM5 speakers.
Philips Izzy BM5: What Is It?
In true rock 'n' roll fashion, Philips has stuck its fingers up at the mainstream players, deciding to make its multi-room move an alternative affair. In an attempt to make the multi-room experience more accessible to a broader spectrum of consumers, it’s done away with the frilly stuff.
Philips Izzy BM5: Who Is It For?
Anybody who falls within the following parameters:
- Fancies seeing what all the multi-room hype is about
- Doesn’t have time for manuals
- Wants a hassle-free life
- Doesn’t have loads to spend
- Isn’t overly-picky about audio quality
Is this you? If so, read on. If not, read on. My parameters may be too strict.
Philips Izzy BM5: Design
Small and simple is the order of the day. Each Izzy BM5 unit is around half the size of a shoebox, so you can slot the speakers pretty much anywhere. Their elegantly-curved corners and dark, understated colour scheme mean you won’t be afraid to plonk them on the floor in the corner of your room, or on your window sill, or bedside cabinet, or table. Unless you seriously hate plastic, they’ll fit in.
You do, however, need to make sure you position each unit close to a power socket. Despite being small, the BM5s aren’t battery-powered, instead requiring life-giving juice from the mains.
Philips Izzy BM5: Using It
The BM5s don’t rely on a dedicated app or a Wi-Fi connection. As I mentioned above, there are no frills here. Simply power them up, pair your smartphone to one of the units via Bluetooth and push the ‘Group’ button to connect to your entire fleet of noise-boxes. Honestly, the longest part of the setup process is opening the box.
You can hook four speakers up the main unit, as long as they’re all within a 100m radius and, if you ever fancy isolating one unit from the others, all you need to do it push the ‘Group’ button again. It genuinely doesn’t get easier than this.
Once you’ve settled on your favourite Bieber hit, it’s time to get jiving, or whatever you like to do in private. The BM5s are surprisingly powerful for their size. When you want to adjust the volume, you need to twist the circular dial on each unit, but once you’ve pumped them up, they’re more than loud enough to fill up a room with sound and infect your body and soul with The Rhythm. Bass is modest and not completely overwhelming too, which is good.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows though. The louder you blast your music, the murkier the details become. At full capacity, both lyrics and instrumental sound soft, lacking the crispness you associate with more expensive hi-fi systems. The BM5s are fine if you just fancy a drunken sing-along, but audiophiles won't be especially impressed.
However, my biggest issue with the BM5s is the delay you get between making a command and it actually being carried out. For instance, when you change the volume, skip a track or hit pause on your smartphone, you have to wait around two seconds before the volume changes, the track skips or the music pauses.
Relatively speaking, it’s a very long delay, and it’s annoying. This means there’s no point connecting to the BM5s if you’re watching a TV show or movie, because right from the off, all mouth movements are completely out of sync with the audio.
Unusually, considering its no-nonsense approach, Philips doesn’t include an auxiliary cable with the BM5s so, unless you have a spare hanging around, you can only hook Bluetooth-enabled devices up to the BM5s. It’s bad news if you have a dumb TV or an old-but-reliable MP3 player, though it’s not the end of the world, as auxiliary cables don’t cost much.
Philips Izzy BM5: Should You Buy It?
This depends entirely on which camp you fall into. If you want a set of speakers that are affordable, loud and ridiculously easy to set up, the Philips Izzy BM5s tick all the right boxes. They’re small and pretty too, so they’ll fit wherever you want to place them. However, they’re definitely not the best-sounding speakers on the market. If you’re an audiophile with a burning hatred of ordinary-soundwaves, you’re best off looking elsewhere.
Philips Izzy BM5: Specs And Price
2 x 2.5-inch drivers
165 x 165 x 118mm