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Here’s why you should make space on your bookshelf for the excellent leather-clad M3

While GGMM doesn’t have nearly the brand recognition of Bose or Sonos, this young design company has made commendable progress towards being an affordable alternative for Wi-Fi-connected home audio systems with the stylish, high-definition, M-series. Digital Trends tested out the plug-in M3 bookshelf speaker and came away impressed with its audio performance, considering its sub-$200 price point.

The most striking aspect of the M3’s design is that there is virtually no plastic on the exterior of the speaker — or wood for that matter. The whole thing is wrapped in genuine leather with a smooth, natural grain accented by the brushed metal, diamond-cut faceplate. While unassuming, the minimalist design looks decidedly clean and retro chic. On top of the speaker is a single aluminum analog dial for the volume control and a small inconspicuous power and mode button. The rear of the speaker houses two reflex ports for enhanced bass response, a reset button, A/C power port, and an aux-in port for wired connections, all set in a fine-grained black leather backing.

GGMM includes a branded, gold-plated audio cable for wired connection to the speaker, but its primary connection methods are Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Directly connecting to the speaker through these is simple, and makes for easy wireless streaming from your mobile device. But when you connect the M3 to your home Wi-Fi network, you’ll be able to stream audio to the speaker from any DLNA server. This not only allows you to stream content from multiple devices, but if you have more than one GGMM M-series speaker, you can stream the same audio source to multiple speakers in different rooms, choose individual left and right channels for true stereo playback, or pick and choose which speakers play back content from a variety of music sources.

Related: Wireless speaker buying guide: Everything you need to know about wireless speakers

To do this, you’ll need to download the free GGMM Music app on your computer, iOS, or Android device to set the speaker up with your network name and password. When network streaming, we did notice occasional lags and buffering, though this will largely depend on your bandwidth and Wi-Fi signal strength.

The GGMM mobile app is a bit basic but functions as intended. Adding the speaker to our Wi-Fi network was simple enough, though navigating the menus and settings within it isn’t intuitive and felt sort of clunky. One prominent feature absent from the app is integration with cloud-based streaming services like Pandora or Spotify; if you want to stream music from the cloud, you’ll have to connect via aux-in or Bluetooth and launch those apps separately.

Delivering the sound on this speaker are two 75mm drivers and twin tweeters that produce clear, crisp, balanced sound. The bass performance is surprisingly deep and rich, but occasionally the lowest ranges will sound a bit muddy. There is also some noise floor filtering, which removes the static and background hiss during soft and silent passages, most noticeable in orchestral and classical music tracks. This makes the reproduction a bit less accurate, but the overall effect is a clean and enjoyable listening experience. The speaker also gets plenty loud and easily fills a mid- to large-sized room with no noticeable distortion at the loudest volume.

Related: Check out this crazy $10,000 wireless speaker from Chinese brand HiVi

The main drawback to this model is that it’s not very portable. It’s as large as a shoe box, weighs a hefty 7 lbs, and needs to be plugged in since it doesn’t have an internal battery. While it lacks other bells and whistles such as a USB charging port, trackpad navigation, and other input connections, picking up the M3 for $160 on Amazon is a steal, given that the sound quality rivals speakers that typically go for $200-300.

There are currently only a handful of speakers in GGMM’s M-series lineup, including the M4 which does have an 8-hour built-in battery. But if the M3 is any indication, future product releases will have a high bar to clear.

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