• B&W MM-1
Our Verdict 
Best Premium desktop speakers, Awards 2011. The MM-1s are an excellent buy – but more exciting speakers are now available
weighty, detailed sound
well balanced across the frequency range
lacking a little drama compared with others
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Put someone in a blindfold and sit them at your desk; play Please Read The Letter from the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss collaboration Raising Sand through a pair of B&W MM-1s, and then ask them to tell you what kind of system they’re listening to.

Chances are they’ll say many things before they utter the words, “a pair of PC speakers”.

Premium product, musical soundThese compact, stylish speakers have won an Award for the past two years with good reason.

Pitched resolutely at the premium end of the desktop speaker market, build and finish is about what you’d expect for your £400, with no obtrusive switches or dials (the controls are concealed on the central metal band).

Frills are few, save the pebble-shaped remote control. Input-wise, all you get is a 3.5mm jack and a USB input – which, to be honest, is as much as you need.

More after the break

Great design apart, the MM-1s’ sound is completely at odds with their size. Musical and with surprising low-frequency push, they do a great job of separating the individual instruments in dense recordings, as well as clinging doggedly to detail when the music demands.

Put on a WAV of Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car if you want proof – vocal nuances and hand-squeaks on guitar necks sing through. Make no mistake, these are hi-fi speakers – they’re just small.

Not fussy about positioningThey aren’t fussy about placement, either – a good job considering their intended role. Their driver construction has 2.5cm aluminium-dome tweeters backed by tapered tubes that absorb rear-firing radiation, as well as 7.5cm woofers.

There are no bass ports to complicate matters, so you can back them right up against your wall without harming their sound.

So, why only four stars? A listen to newer competition such as the Epoz Aktimate Micro and Focal XS Book made the decision relatively easy, if surprising.

The B&Ws, while still great speakers (and don’t get us wrong, you’ll be pleased with them should you buy a pair) are nonetheless pipped for sheer excitement and value for money by their newer rivals.

See all our speaker Best Buys

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