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Bowers & Wilkins Applies Magic to Desktop Speakers

Gordon Kelly


Bowers & Wilkins Applies Magic to Desktop Speakers

Bowers & Wilkins have a habit of making beautiful, striking audio products that you'd need to sell a kidney to own (I'm getting on just fine with one). So following up the Zeppelin and Zeppelin Mini speaker docks it looks like our PC audio is about to be revamped too...

The 'MM-1' desktop speakers are speakers with a difference. Designed by the same engineering team that developed the Zeppelin (and the high-end 800 Series speakers used in Abbey Road Studios), they drop the usual analogue connectivity to output directly via USB. This sounds odd, but the benefits are obvious namely analogue to digital audio conversion and avoiding the iffy quality of many PC 3.5mm jacks.

Naturally enough, behind this you'll find power a plenty with dual drivers, full active Nautilus tube tweeters, near field monitors and two 3in f75mm woofers for a combined amplifier power output of 4x18W which means no additional bulky bass unit is required. On top of this is the usual flood of B&W's key proprietary tech and its own 3.5mm jack which B&W claims will "produce a sound that's a dramatic improvement over a standard PC or Mac headphone output."

Build materials include ABS with spun aluminium and at 170 x 100 x 100mm they are discrete too. Lastly you'll find a bundled remote which also works with iTunes and Windows Media Player. The Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 launches in January and no official RRP has been given. That said I've done some digging so if you're in denial look away now...

...in the region of £300 to £400.

I wonder, is the other kidney really so vital?


Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 Product Page


November 12, 2009, 11:10 pm

i can see it now: one usb port for the totally awesome speakers, one to charge an ipod/iphone, and one to use my totally aweosme vx nano mouse with the nano reciev... oh.


November 12, 2009, 11:20 pm

£300-400? That's quite steep, considering you could by a pair of floorstanders from them at that price, or even some bookshelves and a cheap amp?


November 12, 2009, 11:22 pm

@D-Unit - do you really think someone who wants a 170 x 100 x 100mm speaker set wants floorstanders and a cheap amp? ;)


November 12, 2009, 11:37 pm

Could these be directly compared to the Teufel Concept B 200 USB please.


November 12, 2009, 11:39 pm

@Gordon Hah, you're probably right. Having hooked my PC up through an amp and some Bookshelves from B&W, I'll never go back :)


November 13, 2009, 1:35 am

Well, all I can say is: What took them so long?!

Even at £300-400, i'm going to get myself a pair of these! (Unless they're going to do a Nautilus version in which case I'll wait for those ;)

Hamish Campbell

November 13, 2009, 1:36 pm

Do PC's tend to have an optical out like the macs? if so this might have been a better option than USB to avoid tying up the usb port.

Having said that I don't know the specs so maybe you can plug that into these things too, and one would hope there is a 3.5 jack input for when you want to hook them up to an mp3 player.


November 13, 2009, 1:43 pm

I am also very interested in these as well as the Teufel Concept B 200 USB.

I have an odd question - Can anyone tell me how Windows handles these as a sound device?

The current default audio output on the htpc is HDMI. Will USB speakers take over that output or will they allow output simultaneously? I'd hate to have to switch output in Control Panel every time..?


November 13, 2009, 4:49 pm

I don't think that they will be able to output simultaneously. In Vista you select your primary output device. If your application e.g. Foobar2000 allows it to select the audio output, you could send audio to the output of your choice.


November 13, 2009, 5:51 pm

@haim: USB 2.0 has more than enough bandwidth for audio: CD audio is roughly 1.4 Mbps and the best stereo DVD audio quality is 9.2 Mbps. And being isochronous it's unlikely to be affected by other devices on the USB bus.

@HSC: I imagine it will show up as a separate output device to the one you currently use for outputting via HDMI. So you would probably need some virtual device driver that acts as a splitter, taking one audio stream and sending it on to both devices. Not sure if Windows 7 has this built in.


November 13, 2009, 9:40 pm

a niche product within an already niche market.

it seems with this and the recently released headphones b&w are marketing the value of their brand - i hope they know what they are doing as they are well respected company

Kelvin Ang

November 26, 2009, 3:05 pm

I would certainly love to see a three-way fight between the B&W, Teufel B and Focal XS. Especially so in the PC audio application of it (both for lossy MP3 and lossless codecs).

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