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Philips Izzy multi-room speaker review – hands on

Philips wants to simplify multi-room streaming with Izzy, a Bluetooth-based one touch system

Multi-room music streaming is a booming industry, with plenty of companies attempting to get in on the action, but there’s no denying it can be a little tricky during the initial setup. Changing SSIDs, connecting to wireless routers and switching between multiple apps is the norm, but Philips is aiming to change that with Izzy. The Bluetooth-based multi-room system is the first to let you stream to different rooms without all this hassle, instead pairing your smartphone directly to any compatible speaker then sharing it with additional Izzy speakers at the push of a button.

Because the system works via Bluetooth, you don’t have to connect it to your wireless router, or even connect it to a Wi-Fi network at all. As long as you have a power socket nearby, you can start streaming. Once you’ve paired your smartphone to one speaker, you can press the Group button to join other Izzy speakers within a 100m2 radius. Pressing the goup button a second time will disconnect, but you can reconnect again if you lke what you hear coming from another room. You can have up to five speakers in a single system, which should be more than enough for for anyone looking to get started with multi-room.

The Izzy BM5 is the speaker aimed at most rooms; it has two 2.5in full-range drivers and a bass reflex port to give the low-end a boost. The few buttons on the top of the unit are clearly labelled so it’s obvious how to pair with other speakers, or switch into Bluetooth pairing mode when connecting a new handset, and the glowing volume indicator is a nice touch. You can control the master volume from your phone, but you’ll need to adjust each speaker manually if you want different volumes in different rooms. 

The more expensive Izzy BM50 adds in a CD player, radio and USB port for playback from a flash drive or external hard disk. It has a larger, flatter shape and is designed primarily to sit on tables, sideboards or desks without taking up too much room. It doesn’t have the same funky light scheme, but considering it is supposed to slink into the background rather than make an impression this is unsurprising.

Whether paired together or used in isolation, Izzy speakers are able to produce a clear, clean sound at volume levels that will easily fill a room. There are hallmarks of Philips’ Fidelio signature sound here, with warm bass and a crisp high-end. The jazz and acoustic tracks being used for the demo certainly sounded detailed and had real presence, even from across the room.

As much as Izzy is a simple proposition, this admittedly isn’t the first time Bluetooth and multi-room have gone hand in hand. The Pure Jongo speaker range did something similar, but also had its own dedicated Pure Music app. With Izzy, there’s no need to download anything to your smartphone; you can continue using the built-in music app, Spotify, Google Play Music or even YouTube – essentially any audio produced by your smartphone can be shared throughout the house using Izzy. The setup procedure is also a lot simpler here, as Jongo still needed to be connected to a wireless network in order to see other speakers in a system.

Both the Izzy BM5 and Izzy BM50 will be going on sale throughout Europe in October, with prices set to start €129 for the basic speaker and €279 for the CD player-equipped model. It will be interesting to see whether the no-nonsense approach will appeal to those that have been put off by multi-room streaming in the past, or whether established brands like Sonos will continue to rule the roost. We’ll find out a little closer to launch when we give Izzy a full review. 

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