Bowers & Wilkins is on something of a roll. With the Zeppelin and Zeppelin mini iPod speaker docks, the P5 headphones and now the MM-1 PC speakers adding to the company's already enviable legacy we're starting to wonder whether they'll ever build a bad piece of audio equipment.
The Bowers and Wilkins MM-1 speakers definitely look the part. The combination of the spun aluminium top plate and accents with a black cloth grille is minimalist, but far from plain. Really these speakers shouldn't be allowed on any old desk, but only on glass (or at a push vintage wood) surfaces framing a 27in iMac - probably in a museum of modern art. They're more deserving of entry than anything spewed forth by Tracey Emin, for certain.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that minimal equates to unsubstantial, though. The price certainly isn't. At £399 a pair the MM-1 speakers will prove well out of reach of many. But as we often have to point out with ostensibly expensive products - value isn't in the price.
There are numerous details that show just how much thought has been put into the creation of the MM-1s. The cable running from left to right, for instance, seems particularly sturdy, and the (plastic) base of each speaker has a small cutaway to accommodate the wiring as well as a small space to hold it. If you don't need the full length, you can stow the remainder away in this cavity, which is a neat idea.
The cable joining the two speakers together is fairly short, and no extension is available or easily possible as a proprietary connector is used. This is by intent, as the MM-1s are near-field speakers. As the descriptor suggests, this means that the sweet spot of the MM-1's - the point at which you should place yourself to hear them at their best - is close to them. This is in contrast to traditional Hi-Fi speakers, from which you'll generally want to place yourself a fair distance to get the best results. Moreover, being PC speakers, the MM-1's obviously benefit enormously from this near-field design, as it's pretty much impossible to place them on a desk in an unfavourable position.
The left hand speaker does nothing more complicated than radiate sound. The right hand unit, conversely, accepts the MM-1's mini-USB input, the cable from the left speaker and the power input. The presence of a USB port is important to note, because it is via USB that the MM-1s get audio from your PC.