Bowers & Wilkins’ choice to use USB is undeniably a smart one. It’s no secret that most PCs don’t have stellar audio outputs. The majority rely on soundcards integrated onto their motherboards, which, while fine for catching up on the occasional episode of Glee on 4oD, will hardly do justice to the likes of Bach or Mozart.
To circumvent this issue, the MM-1s have an internal DAC, to deal with the important business of turning your digital files into music. This puts any system to which a set are connected – be it running Windows or Mac OS – on an even playing field. It’s a technique that worked well for the Teufel Concept B 200 USB Speakers – the next best thing if you can’t afford the MM-1s.
Another consequence of these speakers using a USB connection is the included remote can be used to play, pause, and skip tracks in your chosen media player (iTunes and Windows Media Player are supported). It can, of course, control volume as well, and has a mute button. The remote control is the same size and shape as that bundled with the Zeppelins.
The Bowers & Wilkins MM-1s don’t just rely on fancy electronic wizardry. Inside their sublime exterior nestles technology derived from the company’s trademark Nautilus speakers. The 1in tweeters use the same tube-loaded design featured by B&W’s flagship speakers, reducing resonance and, by extension, delivering purer high-end notes. And while there’s no dedicated subwoofer, there are 3in woofers mounted in each unit to handle the mid range and bottom of the audio spectrum
Raw specifications don’t come anywhere near describing the output of the Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 speakers, though. Certainly, the low end isn’t as deep and thumping as it is with some 2.1-channel systems, but it trades immediacy of impact for a smoothness and warmth that’s far more enjoyable to listen to in the long run. Mid- and high-end notes are equally well-delivered, coming across with excellent clarity and poise.
The overall impact is to allow you to simply sink into your music as into a warm bath, simply letting album after album wash over you like so many soapy suds. The MM-1’s are equally at home with the grungy tones of Nirvana as they are with the swinging jive of Frank Sinatra, the haunting melodies of Poe or the striking compositions of Wagner.