MM-1 Multimedia speakers, Bowers & Wilkins: a review
MM-1 Multimedia speakers, Bowers & Wilkins: a review
The Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 Multimedia speakers are hi-fidelity speakers shrunk down into a contemporary desktop 2.0 design. Not only do they sound great, the design is clean, contemporary and suitable for any guys’ bachelor pad or office space. Bowers & Wilkins produce some of the best hi-fidelity sound/audio products available today and come from a tradition of class coupled with performance. At $499, they are a bit pricey but you get what you pay for. Read on for our review.
The Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 Multimedia speakers are 2-way, fully active speakers with built-in Digital Signal Processing or DSP outputting at 4x 18 watts. A 3 inch woofer that handles the bass/mids and a 1 inch tweeter make up each of the MM-1’s left and right. The tweeters utilize the B&W tube design made popular by the Nautilus speakers. This tube design dampens unwanted resonance and outputs high frequency sounds at 38Hz and 22kHz. Inputs include a 3.5mm aux mini-jack for direct analogue connections like from your iPod, iPad and iPhone and a mini-USB 2.0 port for connection to your pc.
The MM-1 speakers are connected to your laptop or pc via usb and it streams the music file or audio as raw data, bypassing your sound card or on-board sound, then translates it into hi-fidelity stereo sound. Upon reviewing the MM-1’s at Pinstripe Magazine, the first thing we notice is they way they look and feel. Weighing about 2lbs per speaker, the Bowers & Wilkins MM-1’s feel solid and well constructed from the moment you pick them up.
The Bowers & Wilkins MM-1‘s stand at 170mm or 6.7 inches tall by 3.9 inches or 100mm wide and deep. The enclosure is finished with an ABS with spm aluminum top plate. The speaker grilles are covered in black cloth and separated by the single brushed aluminum bar make for a clean and sleek look. In my experience it’s pretty difficult to find quality multimedia speakers for a pc that look good. Most pc speakers look like cheap pieces of plastic and/or resemble a kids gaming pc. The MM-1’s are suitable for an office setting, contemporary living space and any place you would like a clean, modern and uncluttered look. Convenient channels are cut into the rubber foundation allowing for neat wire-management while the left speaker allows for some winding up of excess cord that is connecting the two speakers to one another.
Being that the MM-1’s are Hi-Fidelity 2.0 stereo speakers without a sub-woofer component, the sound is extremely well-rounded with enough thickness not to miss your sub-woofer too much and save on some space. The sound is optimized to be best directly near the speakers, roughly about 1-3 feet distance, about how far you would be sitting from your keyboard and monitor setup, though we were pleased with the sound coverage for a fairly large hotel room. The bass is vibrant and thickens the music enough to add some meat to it, but if you are looking for booming/ringing bass that will fill a room, these are probably not the speakers for you. The sound produced by the MM-1’s is detailed and well-balanced even at increased levels without being overpowering.
Upon plugging into our pc setup, installation was a snap, Windows 7 automatically picks up the correct drivers, then just head to your sound control panel and change the output to point to the MM-1’s. If you are playing crappy mp3’s at 128kb or less then 44khz you will still enjoy the MM-1’s but output high quality audio or even lossless audio like FLAC and the MM-1’s will reward you with rich, deep, vibrant, detailed sound with clear and dynamic punch, you will be impressed. Great vocals are really enhanced and production quality is heard on a different level from your everyday or on-board processing and sound speakers.
The sleek brushed aluminum band that holds the power and volume buttons add to the clean look and a blue power light indicator lets you know the unit has been turned on and flashes when on mute/red when off. We did notice that the right speaker top, which contains the amp and the circuit-board, remains fairly warm during use. Press power to turn the unit on or mute the speakers or use the handy remote.
A small inconvenience but due to digital volume controls and not really specific to the MM-1’s is clicking 5/6 times or holding to increase and decrease volume vs simply turning the knob to the desired level and having an instant adjustment is something we miss. Perhaps programmable presets for volume levels might help this little inconvenience.
The MM-1 remote requires a CR2032 battery and is bout the size of a jumbo egg and about 1 inch thick. As we mentioned earlier the MM-1’s are an excellent 2.0 stereo speaker system and although the they are unable to process surround sound, they exhibit excellent ambient qualities to envelop and immerse you in your audio. The MM-1’s will reintroduce you to the passion you once felt towards your music and may quite possibly even help you notice things you never did before. HD movies, Rock, Pop, Electronic music with high production and classical, orchestral, symphonic audio with dynamic volume levels, come through clean and crisp. Rock music is full and in your face without being obnoxious. Vocals are enhanced so you hear even more detail and character in their singing. The experience is similar to wearing hi-fidelity headphones, clean, detailed with excellent ambient sound. The MM-1’s allow you to hear your audio the way it was recorded and the way it was meant to be heard.
The MM-1 Multimedia speakers from Bowers & Wilkins are a great choice for your office, bachelor pad, man cave or small enough to pack in a duffle bag and take with you and offer rich, vibrant and clean audio. They are a bit pricey at $499 but the elegance of the design, richness and clarity of sound along with the convenience of plug and play make the MM-1s worth the scratch.
available for $499 from Bowers & Wilkins, MM-1 Multimedia speakers
-Photos by Ronald Lee