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B&W MM-1 review

Best Premium desktop speakers, Awards 2011, but more exciting options are now available Tested at £400

Our Verdict

Best Premium desktop speakers, Awards 2011. The MM-1s are an excellent buy – but more exciting speakers are now available

For

  • Stylish
  • compact
  • weighty, detailed sound
  • well balanced across the frequency range

Against

  • Pricey
  • lacking a little drama compared with others

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Best Premium desktop speakers, Awards 2011. The MM-1s are an excellent buy – but more exciting speakers are now available

Pros

  • + Stylish
  • + compact
  • + weighty, detailed sound
  • + well balanced across the frequency range

Cons

  • - Pricey
  • - lacking a little drama compared with others

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 sound
These 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.

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 positioning
They 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.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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