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Philips Izzy BM50 review - multiroom, Bluetooth, CD and FM radio

Richard Easton
8 Feb 2016
Philips Izzy BM50 front teaser
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
200
inc VAT

The Izzy BM50 is a multifunction multiroom speaker that's simple to set up

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Specifications

Speakers: 2, RMS power output: 40W, Dock connector: None, Networking: Bluetooth (SBC), izzylink (dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi), Dimensions: 218x500x112mm, Weight: 2.9kg, Streaming formats: izzylink, Bluetooth

Multiroom speakers are fantastic for anyone looking to play music throughout the home but setting them up can, on occasion, be infuriating. It’s not uncommon to initially encounter issues when connecting your speaker to your wireless network. If your home wireless network is unreliable or congested, this too can cause headaches.

Instead of using your home wireless network to synchronise different speakers, Philips’ Izzy range connect to one another using what it calls 'izzylink', which uses the 802.11n wireless standard. This is purely used to network together different Izzy speakers rather than provide an internet connection. Creating its own network, izzylink doesn't need a router or any network passwords. It’s just a matter of tapping a 'Group' button on each speaker to group them together in different arrangements.


Philips Izzy BM50 back side

You connect your audio source using Bluetooth to one izzylink-compatible speaker, which then broadcasts to up to four additional speakers in a 'master and slave' configuration. This means that one master speaker can control up to four slave speakers. This should be plenty unless you happen to live in a mansion.

Rather than having each speaker connect directly to music streaming services, as most multiroom speakers allow, your Bluetooth-connected device provides the audio. This can be anything from a smartphone or a laptop, and gets you around the need for service compatibility. You’re able to stream audio from anything from Spotify to YouTube to your favourite podcast app.

Izzy BM50

In the Izzy range, the BM50 is the biggest and most feature-equipped speaker. It’s a wide and relatively thin speaker at 500x112mm - wall-mount it and it'll sit relatively flush. Otherwise there’s an angled stand to prop up the BM50 on a surface. Aside from the silver stripe down the front, the design is very reserved and classy. Media controls are placed across the top, so don't wall-mount the BM50 too high. Fortunately a remote control is included. An LED display is hidden away behind the speaker grille and shows what mode the speaker is set to, as well as the volume level.

Not only can the BM50 play music from a Bluetooth device, it also has a CD player, FM radio, a 3.5mm stereo input and support for connecting USB storage for MP3 playback. CDs are slot-loaded from the top of the speaker. All of the sources are compatible with izzylink, too. This means you can stream a CD or FM radio to other izzylink speakers, including the Philips Izzy BM5, which (aside from its izzylink-only Wi-Fi aerial) only has Bluetooth. There’s also a headphone jack for private listening.


Philips Izzy BM50 logo closeup

Adding izzylink speakers into a group is easy. You just need to hold the Group button for three seconds on each speaker to add it. You’ll get a beep from each speaker once they’re connected. Adding multiple speakers is a little fiddly and it’s a good idea to have the speakers all closely located during setup. You can always move them to their final position once they’re paired.

As it’s got the most music source options, the BM50 is a logical candidate as the master control speaker. Having said that, changing the master speaker is a wonderfully simple affair. If you decide you want to use a different speaker as the master, you just need to press the Bluetooth pairing button, which then puts that speaker into Bluetooth pairing mode.

If you find yourself carrying your smartphone around the home, this gets you around the problem of your device dropping Bluetooth connection to the master speaker. You’ll just need to quickly re-pair it with the closest slave speaker and switch that to be the master to keep the music going. Network stability was good for the most part, with only occasional problems when carrying our Bluetooth source device around. With it left stationary, or using the other audio sources, music synchronised and played from different speakers without a hitch.


Philips Izzy BM50 back

This does initially mean manually pairing your device with each speaker in your house, but that doesn’t take too long. Bluetooth reception to the BM50 is about 10m, which doesn’t come as any surprise. The izzylink connection between speakers should be good for at least 20m. Certainly in a three-storey house there weren’t any issues having izzylink speakers on opposite floors. Three status indicator lights on the front show how strong the connection is when speakers are grouped together.