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Speakers Reviews
15,670 Reviews PC Advisor Gold Award

Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 review

£399 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Bowers & Wilkins

Our Rating: We rate this 4.5 out of 5

The Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 is a stereo speaker system for the desktop, offering a taste of audiophile sound from the British loudspeaker specialist.

The Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 is a stereo speaker system for the desktop, offering a taste of audiophile sound from the British loudspeaker specialist

In specialist audio circles, B&W loudspeakers need little introduction. Bowers & Wilkins has been making hi-fi speakers for music enthusiasts since the 1960s, and more recently is renowned as a supplier of reference monitors to prestigious recording and mastering studios, in particular Abbey Road.

Two years ago the ballon went up for cheap ‘n’ cheerful iPod docks with the arrival of Zeppelin, a one-piece speaker designed by B&W for Apple’s portable player. Shaped like a high-tech rugby ball, it staked out new ground for a kind of high-end audio for iPods, wrapped in an iconic piece of industrial design.

Now B&W has MM-1, a two-piece stereo speaker aimed more squarely at the desktop PC market.

The Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 speakers may look unassuming in their cloth-noir guise, but these modestly sized blocks – just 17cm high – are packed with advanced drivers and electronics that put the vast majority of desktop speakers to shame.

In the best tradition of hi-fi speakers, the Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 is a stereo system with no added sub-bass boxes that need blending in sonically or hiding away visually, each box featuring two speaker drivers.

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 acting on its rear surface.

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. Most of the Bowers & Wilkins MM-1's essential but unsightly wiring can also be tucked away; the tied cable connecting the speakers, along with power lead and USB cable all chase discretely under the right-hand speaker.

Also on the right speaker, incorporated into the metal trim, are volume + and – controls, and a power standby switch. 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 analogue input at the back, another 3.5mm mini-jack socket provides a headphone output.

NEXT PAGE: Sound quality impressions >>

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Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 Expert Verdict »
B&W MM-1 Scores 8.6 out of 10 based on 7 reviews
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
  • Build Quality: We give this item 9 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 8 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 7 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 9 of 10 overall

For a comany that also sells audiophile grade music online, we were ready to question the Bowers & Wilkins MM-1’s limitation to 16-bit resolution digital audio. As it happens, this speaker system makes something of a silk purse out of CD-quality music. It’s bouncy, infectiously rhythmic given half the chance, and incredibly wideband sounding. Design and construction are first-class, a stylish wrapper over the most supremely musical desktop PC speakers we’ve heard to date. Speakers this small have absolutely no right to sound so damn good.

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