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Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 - Bowers & Wilkins MM-1

By Hugo Jobling

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

10

The MM-1s do an excellent job of making compressed music sound decent. 320kbps MP3s sound great and even the half-dozen 256kbps AAC (iTunes Plus) tracks we have sounded pretty decent. Really low bit-rate tracks can suffer, but we're talking 128kbps WMA streaming audio here and the kind of person who would put such files through a £400 pair of speakers more than occasionally frankly doesn't deserve the gift of hearing.

Stepping up to some 24-bit FLACs did reveal extra elements of detail to Beethoven's 9th, among other, similarly epic tracks. The transparency the MM-1s deliver is particularly noteworthy; you can really get a feel for where in the mix each and every element was mastered, whether a cello, a flute, a viola or a xylophone.

Films and TV shows sound equally as good as music, with an episode of Doctor Who showcasing the MM-1's ability to turn their hand to producing clear dialogue, enveloping atmospherics, and luscious accompanying music. The lack of a large sub-woofer means you don't get quite the ground-shaking rumble of some speaker sets, which can dull the impact of action-packed films, but then for the best home cinema effect you're going to want surround sound and a comfy sofa anyway.

Bowers & Wilkins hasn't limited the MM-1 speakers to only accepting input from a PC, over USB. The right-hand speaker has an aux-in and headphone output around the back. The former lets you hook up just about any device, mixing its audio with that from your PC.

The headphone output is a little niftier as it lets you take advantage of the MM-1's excellent audio processing when using a set of 'phones - the speakers mute automatically when you plug in your headphones. The results are impressive, with a set of trusty Shure SE420 earphones sounding miles better via the MM-1's than through the iPhone they're usually subjected to.

Flourishes like this are what enable the Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 speakers to justify their admittedly significant asking price. It really shouldn't be possible to make a set of desktop speakers sound this good, but somehow B&W has. Maybe it's just us, but we think quality like this is worth paying for.

Verdict

There was never any doubt in our minds that the Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 speakers would be something special and, lo and behold, they are. They look stunning and sound even better - truly, PC audio has never had it so good.

Overall Score

10

Scores In Detail

  • Value 9

stranded

May 27, 2010, 12:03 pm

Though i prefer plain designs (primitive and metallic) this is not bad at all.


I think they will sound good. Thumbs up for the review.

David 46

May 27, 2010, 1:15 pm

I thought these speakers were only available via the Apple Store? I don't see them listed in SSVA.

Hugo

May 27, 2010, 1:18 pm

There was a short period when they were exclusive to the Apple store.


But now: http://store.sevenoakssoundand...

Cheap-Information

May 27, 2010, 1:25 pm

Thank you for the review,





I currently have the Teufel Concept B 200 USB Speakers.





Would these be a worthwhile upgrade and is there any static noise when no music is playing?

FreQ

May 27, 2010, 2:52 pm

I currently use Aego M's, which are good quality, nice speakers. These look like they might be a good upgrade sometime, although I'm in no pressing need atm.





£400 seems quite steep though, the Aego's were only £100 and whilst I'd rather pay for quality, £400 is quite a jump. Does anyone know if these are available in stores like John Lewis - so we can hear them before splashing out?

Digital Fury

May 27, 2010, 5:05 pm

I'm actually expecting my 27" iMac tomorrow and was looking into these, but they are quite expensive for a pair of desktop speakers.

Peter

May 27, 2010, 5:49 pm

Not actually that expensive in this range considering genelec 6010A are around £169 per speaker without USB / volume / headphone jack and no remote.

James Reckitt

May 27, 2010, 7:09 pm

I would have ordered a pair of these straight away (I'm a HUGE B&W fan!) but the small size and lack of sub concerns me. I'm currently using, with my PC, a set of Bose Companion 3's; how do they compare?

Rich Morris

May 27, 2010, 8:35 pm

I got MM-1 the first week they came out at the apple store and have never regretted it. I had to decided between the MM-1 and the Bose music monitor which sounded better at first then I notice the B&W where not connected by USB but by the 3.5mm stereo jack so I get them to change it and WOW that's when they came life, Yes they expensive but you get what you pay for and in the case of the MM-1 this is a balance and natural sound, a lot of sets especially the 2.1 sets have too much base which for me ruined the over all musical experience.

PoisonJam

May 27, 2010, 9:32 pm

What HiFi gave a similarly glowing review. I'll be getting a pair of these as soon as I get my bigger desk (and can afford them!).





@ James Reckitt - you mention you're a big B&W fan but have doubts over the lack of a sub but I can't think of much in B&Ws range that isn't a home cinema speaker set that uses a sub. Your Bose set has small satellites and a large sub so I'd be more inclined to think it will lack a lot more in the mid - low-mid range vs the B&Ws, though I admit I have never heard them and I'm just speculating.

philehidiot

May 27, 2010, 10:39 pm

It seems to me if you're going to spend £400 on a pair of speakers then you're going to be knowledgeable enough in the area to know that on board sound is cack and be able to afford a proper sound card. Personally even for a laptop I'd rather have the choice of buying an x-fi USB unit and pay less for the speakers without the USB stuff.

Moogle Stiltzkin

May 28, 2010, 4:30 am

These seem pricey >:x hm





The one i have is a pair of Aktimate Minis. Their awesome for pcs :}





A step below it there is the AudioEngine 5 :x

HisEnormity

May 28, 2010, 5:55 am

HOW MUCH!!!

James Reckitt

June 1, 2010, 4:32 pm

@PoisonJam - That's a fair point, but the size of the units (sub or not) concerns me. If you look at their 685/686 speakers there's noticeably weaker bass response with the smaller 686's, which are still much much larger than these!





I listen to a lot of music (from jazz to prog. rock to heavy metal) and I admit, my Bose system does lack in mid range, it's just whether I'd sacrifice bass for better mid range...





Ahh well, either way, I think a shopping trip is in order, to hear these babies in the flesh! :)

Cheap-Information

July 22, 2010, 6:48 pm

Just bought a set of these and they are noticeably better than the Teufel Concept B 200 USB Speakers that I previously had.





They do have a white noise when not on mute on my Macbook Pro, I have spoken to B&W and they say that they are releasing a firmware patch in the next month to deal with this.

Ramosa

August 14, 2010, 7:03 pm

"The cable joining the two speakers together is fairly short" ... Couldn't you just have given the length and let us decide what we define as short? :-p





So, I have 3 questions I need answered before I can purchase these speakers:





1) Length of speakers cable


2) Does it have ASIO?


3) Can you plug a second PC into the Aux-in, thus having 2 PC's share the same speakers (only one with DSP effects of course)

Cheap-Information

September 4, 2010, 1:05 am

1) The cable is just over 1 metre in Length.


2) I don't know what ASIO is.


3) You can plug the 2nd PC into the "Aux" jack and have two PCs running off the same speakers.

steveliddleSK

September 8, 2016, 7:34 pm

ASIO is Audio Stream Input/Output :)

Went from a pair of nice creative 2.1 speakers to some no name usb backup set, plugged in these speakers and was like wow !

MP3's are highest rate possible, but do have some flac

The speakers are on either side of a 4k screen, they are designed to be short, something to consider when ordering ?

PC case is under the screen and to the left, so the usb lead is long enough

Hazmatt999

November 20, 2016, 12:41 pm

The Dac will only play 16 bit so testing with 24 bit is a bit pointless unless you used a seperate DAC as i do now so i can play 24 bit. I still love theses speakers it puts a smile on my face every tome i use them which is nearly daily. The Bass is nice and tight and with the right files no sibilance. Sound,size and looks make this still the best for my requirements.

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