Wed, 04 Aug 2010 Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 review
Desktop speakers with a real touch of class
- Manufacturer: Bowers & Wilkins
- Pros: Amazing sound, expertly designed, great build and connectivity
- Cons: You get what you pay for but they are pricey
- Min specs: Stereo desktop speakers; 4 x 18W Class D amplifiers; 2 x 75mm bass/mid drivers, 2 x 25mm treble units; digital signal processing with electronic active crossovers; USB 16-bit/48kHz digital-to-analogue converter (DAC); mini-USB port; 3.5mm stereo audio input; 3.5mm headphone output; infrared remote control; 170 x 100 x 100mm; 1.8kg
- Price: £399 inc VAT
- Star rating:
The Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 speakers may look unassuming, but these modestly sized blocks – just 17cm high – are packed with advanced drivers and electronics that put the majority of desktop speakers to shame.
A 75mm mid-bass driver handles the lower end of the audio range, while a 25mm tweeter carries the high notes. Not just any regular tweeter, mind – B&W majors on using an acoustic technology it dubs Nautilus tapered tube, which ensures the sensitive high-frequency diaphragm is not coloured by unwanted air pressure.
To maximise the available amplifier power and provide the cleanest signal to the speaker drive units, the Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 uses digital signal processing (DSP) to shape the sound for the system, along with active crossovers to split the sound into two frequency ranges. This accurately channels sounds into the respective low and high-frequency drive units.
Construction quality of the Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 is exemplary, with no visible joins or fasteners around the little cabinets.
Small is beautiful
A small pebble-shaped remote handset mirrors these controls, as well as adding a mute button and track play/pause and skip buttons. Used with the USB input, these let you navigate around iTunes’ playback functions.
As well as an analog input at the back, another 3.5mm mini-jack socket provides headphone output.
The Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 speakers’ micro-monolith looks belie the sheer size and the colour of sound they relay into the room. There’s no real sub-bass of course but some clever acoustic engineering means they sound profound and awesomely wideband in range.
Best of all was the Bowers & Wilkins MM-1’s articulate and rolling bass reproduction. Bass lines had slam and weight yet you could always pick out the pitch, in marked contrast to ‘big’ sounding speakers that major on one-note thuds.