This review unit was sent to me courtesy of the nice people at UYESEE, so thank you very much, and especially Ryan, for the help!
First, a clarification: the M5 is NOT a TV box. It may seem that I only review those, but this blog is not dedicated to this product type alone.
The Audiocast M5 is a new product which targets music lovers. It combines wireless (or wired, but powered) speakers, a small chromecast-like (the M5) device and a simple (and free) application – to allow you to send music (same or different) to multiple locations in the house.
What’s in the Box?
The box includes the basics needed for the audio streaming: aside from the round (disc like) Audiocast M5 streamer itself, we get a stereo PL 3.5 mm cable for connection to powered speakers, a USB – Micro-USB cable for providing power to the streamer, and a small user manual.
The Audiocast M5 is a small round device, reminiscent of a hockey puck. It is made of plastic and very light in weight. The top is black, and the rest of the streamer is a silvery dark grey plastic.
|WiFi Audio||Ralink RT5350F WiSoC|
|Connectivity||802.11 b/g/n with WPS button|
|Memory / Storage||Windbond 9825 series flash (256Mbit)|
|Audio Output||3.5mm stereo jack|
|Power||5V via micro USB port|
The M5 has a niche purpose: to stream music to powered speakers over wireless network. If you have more than one unit, you can handle multiple destinations simultaneously. The music can be different songs/sources to each of the (up to) 7 destinations, same for each two, or same for all. What you’ll need is a M5 unit in each location connected to a set of powered speakers via standard 3.5 mm stereo cable. Oh, and you’ll need a power source that provides power via a USB port.
The only control interface for this little gadget is via smartphone – a free app called Audiocast which can find the M5/s on the same WiFi (limited to 2.4 GHz) network. There’s an Android version, and an iPhone version.
First, you hook the small gadget to a power source (I used the included USB to Micro-USB cable to draw power from one of my TV’s USB ports), and using the stereo 3.5 mm PL cable to a powered speaker (in this case, a Bluetooth speaker’s wired input port). Next, we fire up the Audiocast app on our phone/tablet, and let it search for the device on our local network (should be the 2.4 GHz network if you have a choice, as the M5 does not support the newer 802.11ac standard). You may be asked to press the WPS button on the M5 to sync it to the network before you’re able to see it on your phone/tablet.
Once it’s found, and you enter a password for the network (unless your network is an open one), you can choose to stream live radio (via apps such as the popular TuneIn, Pandora, Spotify and others) or from your own collection – as long as it’s located on the smartphone or tablet you’re using. The relevant streaming source apps also need to be installed on your phone/tablet and an account in each is advised.
Using the M5 is not difficult. Most screens are self explanatory, and there are not too many options to confuse you. I do wish the player and system integration of the android version were more diverse and capable than they currently are.
Here is a comparison table that tries to show the differences and advantages that the M5 holds over its competitors (mainly chromecast audio, and Sonos) as well as over standard Bluetooth audio streaming:
Bugs and Issues
For the most part, this device is bug-free. It is one of the most promoted devices of UYESEE right now, and got a lot of attention put into it. However, no device is free of issues:
- During live streaming playback, you don’t really see advancement (no buffer that allows you to jump ahead or back a few seconds) – you can only play, pause or stop.
- There’s a small delay between playback and stopping from when you press the relevant touch button and till it actually happens.
- You can only find your network shared music folders, if you turn on public media sharing. Password protected (did not try non-protected) SMB shares are not supported. Also, Audiocast does not arrange them properly, or it may just take a very long time to arrange them and so I could only play back from the general, jumbled up list.
- The playback screen is a bit spartan. There are no controls like those that can be found in many android music players – equalizer, bass, and so on.
- I could not send files to be played in Audiocast from outside programs (I can send such files to other programs using “share” or “send” options from file browsers).
- The power supply is a bit of an issue. There is no DC power adapter included, and without getting one, you’ll need to depend on a powerbank, or some other available USB power source – that can be quite inconvenient.
- Certain streaming audio codecs seems not to be supported, as evident in this next photo:
Did I like it? Somewhat. I do not see much use for the M5 when these days you can get a Bluetooth speaker which can make use of most wireless sources (I.E. Smartphones and Tablets) quite easily. Yes, you won’t be able to send multiple sources from the same device to multiple speakers, but that can probably be changed with some Bluetooth enabled app. Is there a real need for the M5, or is it a very niche product that may not find great demand?
Would I recommend it? Yes, but only to those who require this specific kind of service. Most others can do quite well with Bluetooth streaming.
So you’d like to buy this audio streamer? Here’s where you can buy it for a mere 36 USD: Focalbay M5 AudioCast Airplay Dlna Qplay Wi-Fi Multi-Room Music Streamer Box for IOS / Android