Review: Bowers & Wilkins MM-1

Our score: 5/5
Reviewed: June 15, 2010 11:00 PM
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Published: June 15, 2010 11:00 PM
By Tristan François
Bowers & Wilkins doesn't have much left to prove in the world of hi-fi audio. As the designer and creator of the extraordinary Nautilus speaker, as well as a successful range of iPod docks, B&W is now releasing its very own set of high-end PC speakers.

Hardware & Design: minimalist but practical

Minimalist designs may look classy, but rather than go out of their way to cunningly conceal each and every feature, some manufacturers simply ditch them instead. In fact, certain brands have done away with even the most basic of functions in order to keep their designs sleek and visually unblemished. Bowers & Wilkins has got round this problem well, as the MM-1 look clean and flawless with their stretch fabric cover and black plastic casing, all set off with a simple metal band. They still, however, have a good range of controls.

The main controls are found on the edge of the right speaker. Plus, cables are effectively hidden in the base of each satellite speaker, with plenty of room to roll up surplus. The main connection is under the right speaker's base, and the auxiliary connection is found at the rear.

The remote control is the same as that supplied with the Zeppelin and Zeppelin Mini.

The left speaker's cable could have done with being a few centimetres longer, and as it's a proprietary connection there's no real way round that. There are no equalisation functions either.

Sound Quality: good ... so long as they're correctly positioned

This may be stating the obvious, but the MM-1 is only a stereo speaker set, and the speakers are also quite small, which usually means you might as well forget about bass. However, the MM-1 can achieve much lower frequencies than the majority of 2.1 speaker kits out there, so in spite of their compact dimensions and lack of separate subwoofer, their bass performances are actually excellent.

From lower-medium to the highest frequencies, the MM-1 offer a well-balanced, soft and structured output. The stereo effect is convincing and well rendered. There were no timbre issues either.

And now for the (very small) downfall of these speakers: you have to be a bit careful how you position them. You can't really use them anywhere other than sitting in front of your computer, although given that the standard cable connection is USB, that's perhaps not such a big deal. The USB digital-to-analogue converter (DAC) does an excellent and simply flawless job. It's so good, in fact, that poorly encoded tracks will actually sound bad. You have been warned!

Bowers & Wilkins is the second manufacturer of luxury hi-fi equipment to equip its PC speakers with a USB DAC. The resulting sound quality shows it's worth the investment too. Maybe built-in sound cards will soon be a thing of the past.

5/5 Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 DigitalVersus 2010-06-16 00:00:00

Pros

  • Minimalist but practical design
  • Excellent, crisp, clean well-balanced sound
  • Can handle low frequencies with no separate subwoofer

Cons

  • Need to be positioned correctly for a decent overall experience

Conclusion

The MM-1 are a bit like a stereo version of the Focal XS speakers. In spite of their small size, they deliver exceptional-quality sound. They won't, however, fill a whole room with sound and are best used at your computer.

OUR SCORE 5/5
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