Samsung M3 Wireless Speaker Review
Smaller but just as flexible and easy to use
Samsung M3 - What is it?The M3 is the latest model to join Samsung’s range of multi-room wireless speakers that also includes the M7 and M5. The Korean giant’s proprietary multi-room system uses mesh technology to create a robust network and is designed to compete with the likes of Sonos. The M3 is the smallest of the three models but at just £149 (September 2014) it is certainly competitively priced.
Samsung M3 - Who is aimed at?The M3, like it’s bigger brothers, is aimed at a number of potential users simultaneously. First of all you can use the M3 as a standalone speaker and connect to it either directly via Bluetooth and Ethernet or indirectly using one of Samsung’s optional Hubs (WAM250). If you have the hub, you also have the option of using the M3 in a multi-room system, with other compatible Samsung devices (speakers, soundbars, TVs etc.).
The M3 shares the same wedge design and excellent build quality of its bigger brothers - the M5 and M7.
Samsung M3 - Design and ConnectionsIn terms of its design, the M3 is just a smaller version of the M5 and M7 and as such shares the same wedge shape and excellent build quality. The speaker comes in a gloss black finish, which looks gorgeous but can be a bit of a dust magnet. At the front, behind a plastic mesh grille that can’t be removed, is a twin driver setup and the M3 measures 250 x 114 x 145mm (WxHxD). There is a stand included that allows you to position the M3 horizontally or vertically.
In terms of connections, the M3 is surprisingly well apportioned with Bluetooth and WiFi, although unlike the M5 and M7, it doesn’t support NFC (Near Field Communication). At the rear there is an Ethernet port for a wired connection, although there is also built-in wireless (2.4/5GHz dual band). There is a USB port for firmware updates, a socket for the power adaptor and a fixing point for wall mounting.
Samsung M3 - How do I set it up?Setting up the M3 is incredibly simple, whichever method you choose, and if it’s a Bluetooth connection you’re after, all you need to do is select that setting on the M3 and pair it with your device. Alternatively you can connect directly to your WiFi using the WPS button the rear, allowing you to send music wirelessly to an individual M3 from your network. Finally you can go the wired route and just connect the M3 to your network via the Ethernet port at the rear.
If you want to create a multi-room system, you will need to purchase the optional Hub at a cost of about £50. This small black plastic box measures 100 x 25 x 106 mm (WxHxD) and at the rear are two Ethernet ports which act as a switch. This is sensible as it ensures you don’t lose any of the wired connections to your router when you hook up the Hub. It will basically pass the signal of any connected device through its Ethernet connection to your router.
Aside from the two Ethernet ports at the rear, there is also an ’add speaker’ button, a USB port for service support, a socket for the DC power supply and a reset button. To the front are some indicator lights that display feedback on pairing, power, connection and to when the Hub is being used in WiFi repeater mode to boost the signal. These lights are quite bright, so careful positioning might be required to ensure that they don't distract or annoy you.
The system uses mesh network technology to prevent network traffic problems by automatically searching for and finding clear audio data paths. Set up is simplicity itself and all you need to do is connect an Ethernet cable between the Hub and your router and then plug in the Hub and however many speakers you have. We had two M3s in for review, so we positioned one in the lounge and one in the master bedroom and each was connected to the Hub within ten seconds. There is an audible beep to signify that each of the speakers has connected to the Hub.
If you should need to there is an add speaker button on the back of the Hub, which you just press, followed by the corresponding button on the back of the speaker. If the connection light remains red it has failed and if you continue to experience difficulties, your speaker probably isn’t in range for your WiFi. In which case you can consider adding another Hub to the system as a WiFi repeater or creating a wired connection to the speaker in question.
The M3 is incredibly flexible in terms of connections with options for Bluetooth, Ethernet and WiFi.
Samsung M3 - How do I control it?You have a number of ways of controlling the M3, starting with some basic controls on the top of the speaker itself. Here you’ll find a volume control, a mute button and touch sensitive indicators for Network, Bluetooth and TV SoundConnect. Alternatively, if your smart device is connected to the M3 via Bluetooth, Ethernet or wireless, you can use that to control the M3. However the best way is to use Samsung's excellent Multi-room App to control either your individual speaker or your multi-room system.
Whichever option you choose the app works in the same way and allows you to control the speaker or system via a nicely laid out interface. You can rename the speaker or speakers using the app to correspond with the room they are in (or any name you like for that matter) and then control what’s being played to each individual speaker. You can also create groups of speakers to simultaneously stream through.
Using the app, it’s possible to find all the music stored locally on your device or on other devices on the same network and then you simply assign it to a speaker or group, whereupon it will play instantly. You can also create playlists using the app to be played back in the same manner. Other useful features include some EQ controls, although these are basic, with just Bass, Treble and Balance. There's also compatibility to a number of streaming services including Spotify, Deezer and Napster, along with access to thousands of internet radio stations through TuneIn.
Samsung M3 - What’s good about it?Well, first off the M3 is an incredibly flexible little speaker that can connect to a myriad of devices using a number of different methods. It works well as a standalone speaker and given its excellent build quality and attractive price tag should prove competitive. Despite its diminutive size, the M3 could produce a big enough sound to fill an average sized room and the triangular shape meant it had a widely dispersed soundstage. The sound was clean and crisp and the weight of the chassis gave it a degree of low-end presence.
In terms of using the M3 in a multi-room setup, it was a resounding success, creating a system in conjunction with the Hub and a second speaker with ease. The system was robust and free of interference and dropouts, the sound quality was good and control was simple thanks to the free app. The M3 supports a wide range of file types, including AAC, MP3, WAV, OGG, WMA and FLAC, along with support for Spotify, Deezer, Napster and TuneIn. The result was an excellent integration of speakers and various devices that can rival those of Apple or Sonos for example.
The fact that you can send audio from other compatible Samsung devices such as Blu-ray players, All-in-One Systems and TVs is also a bonus, allowing in you to listen to audio in other rooms of the house. Aside from a multi-room system, you have the option of using the M3 speakers as part of a multi-channel setup in one room. By positioning the speakers in their vertical orientation using the provided stands, you can use them as either a stereo pair or in a four channel configuration.
Samsung M3 - Video Review
Samsung M3 - What’s not so good?In terms of weakness the M3 has the usual problem that you get with single box speakers of this size - a lack of stereo separation. There really is very little that a manufacturer can do about this when the chassis is so small but at least, as mentioned in the previous section, the wedge shape does create a wider dispersion when it comes to creating a soundstage. However this wedge shape also creates another problem.
When the M3 is positioned in its vertical configuration, the sound is now projected vertically rather than horizontally. This can be an issue when M3s are being used as stereo or multi-channel speakers, so whilst the idea of using them to beef up the audio on your TV might be appealing, the results aren't as effective as they should be. Of course, you could position the speakers horizontally instead but that doesn't look as aesthetically pleasing.
Whether as a standalone speaker or as part of a multi-room system, the M3 was an impressive performer.
- Very easy setup
- Flexible placement
- Wide dispersion of sound
- Remote App is great
- Extremely reliable streaming
- Useful Ethernet switch on hub
- Limited stereo separation
- Cheaper wireless speakers available
Samsung M3 Wireless Speaker Review
Should I buy one?
The simple answer to that question is that it depends on what you're looking for in a speaker. If all you want is a standalone wireless speaker the Samsung M3 is a good option but there is a lot of competition in this particular market. Having said that the M3 does deliver a very good performance for its size and cost and it's very flexible in terms of setup. The free remote app is also very good, with plenty of control features and streaming services.
However its with multi-room systems that the M3 really comes into its own and although you'll need to stump up an extra £50 for the Hub, the results are excellent. The system is simple to setup and easy to use, making it very effective for anyone looking to create a wireless network of speakers in different rooms of the house. If you have other compatible Samsung devices and speakers then the decision becomes even easier as they form a very cohesive system.
What are the alternatives?
The Samsung M3 sits at an interesting price point, with very few good wireless speakers at the same cost. So if you just want a flexible wireless speaker, the M3 holds its own well against the slightly cheaper KitSound Ignite or Cambridge Audio Minx Go. Conversely it's cheaper than the Pioneer XW-SMA3 or the Cambridge Audio Minx 200. If you're thinking of creating a multi-room system, the obvious alternative is Sonos but the Samsung approach is effective and certainly worth considering.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £149.00
Value For Money8
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.