Think 'PC speakers' and you'll probably imagine some nasty little USB whatsit, useful only for blasting out pop hits in distorted fashion at abysmal office parties. Forced smiles and sad karaoke sessions will be far from your mind, however, when the Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 speakers are adorning your desk. They can be yours for the princely sum of around £400.
Tall and handsome
Two tall cylinders, these tiny titans of sound each have a footprint of around 80mm square, pretty much guaranteeing that they'll fit somewhere on your desk. They look the business too. In keeping with other Bowers & Wilkins products, black and chrome is the order of the day.
Sound that astounds
The MM-1s' audio is pretty incredible. The sound that emanates from them is very directional -- these aren't the kind of speakers that fill a room, so you'll need to be sat right in front of them, or behind, to benefit from the full force of their stellar audio. Once you're positioned just right, prepare for something really special.
Higher frequencies come through with crystal clarity. Listening to Keep Breathing by Ingrid Michaelson, the higher piano notes were astonishingly clear, and never vanished into the mix. The low end is amazingly powerful considering there's no separate subwoofer. As with some other Bowers & Wilkins products, you might find the lower frequencies ever so slightly dominating if you're somewhat bass-averse. It really comes down to personal preference, however -- give the MM-1s a trial before buying them to ensure they're to your taste. They almost certainly will be.
We blasted some streaming music from Spotify through the MM-1s and our tunes were reproduced perfectly. These speakers picked up even the most obscure sonic quirks from the mix. They only got better when we tested out some higher-bit-rate audio formats, such as FLAC and AIFF files. The MM-1s don't sound like any tacky sonic enhancements have been implemented -- they have a natural tone.
You can connect the speakers either via a 3.5mm cable or USB lead (both included), which means the MM-1s will work with a PC, MP3 player or smart phone. The MM-1s can't be powered via USB like many computer speakers, however, and they require a chunky power supply to keep the rock rockin'. Although we can't imagine many people wanting to break these bad boys out in public, the power cord does seriously hamper portability, so bear that in mind if you're looking for some speakers to chuck in a bag and take away with you.
A remote is included that handles basic functions such as playing, pausing and skipping tracks. The remote won't work with non-computer sources, such as MP3 players and the like.
The main downside of the MM-1s is that they'll cost you dearly. However you slice it, £400 is a substantial amount of money. If you're the kind of music fan who's happy to throw down 400 fat ones in the name of perfect audio reproduction, you probably already own a great non-computer-based audio set-up. If you don't, think very carefully about exactly where you'd be using the MM-1s. They're not particularly portable and, even though they sound phenomenal, your colleagues probably won't thank you for blasting out tunes at work.
The Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 speakers are easy to recommend -- they're far and away the best PC speakers we've ever heard, and we have absolutely no complaints about their audio quality. Before rushing to the shops, though, you might like to consider investing in a pair of truly excellent headphones.
Edited by Charles Kloet