Premium Two-Channel PC Speaker Roundup

Bowers & Wilkins MM-1

PC enthusiasts might not be familiar with B&W, as it only just released its first purpose-built computer speakers. But Bowers & Wilkins is no stranger to audiophiles. This UK-based company has been producing high-end speakers since the 1960s, and when it comes to price, the MM-1s definitely define the high-end with a $499.95 buy-in. These speakers come with a two-year warranty, which is par for the course when it comes to premium speakers, but less than we’d hope for based on cost.

The MM-1 speaker system is undeniably attractive with brushed metal accents and a flat black cloth covering. Each enclosure houses a 1” tube-loaded tweeter and 3” long-throw driver. Take note of the size, because the other products in this roundup have larger (or twice as many) drivers. The enclosures feel very sturdy compared to the competition, and there’s some weight to them, despite the compact dimensions measuring less than 7” tall and about 4” in diameter.

The MM-1s come with an A/C adapter power cable, a five-foot long 1/8” mini-jack input cable, and a five-foot long USB cable. Why would PC speakers come with a USB cable? Because this kit employs a built-in DAC. The B&W MM-1 can actually bypass the sound hardware in your PC and convert the digital data into analog sound internally. Our tests show that this can improve the frequency response compared to a sub-par integrated audio codec.

The left enclosure’s input cable is permanently attached, but it can be removed from its plug on the bottom of the right enclosure for setup. There are even some cable-routing placements under the right speaker to keep the installation clean.

Also included is an attractive seven-function remote that allows limited control of the next, previous, and pause/play functions of your PC playback software when you’re using the USB input. The remote is always able to control power, volume, and mute, regardless of the input used.

The auxiliary 1/8” input jack is on the back of the right enclosure, just below the headphone output. The USB and auxiliary inputs work at the same time. 

The remote has most of the control functionality, but there are also built-in volume buttons built in to the right enclosure. This control is beautifully integrated into the speaker design. But for the steep asking price, we’re somewhat disappointed in the lack of bass or treble adjustments with the MM-1.

Create a new thread in the UK Article comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
Comment from the forums
    Your comment
  • mi1ez
    Once again, I'll stick to my Denon amp and Mission floorstanders, thank you.
  • Silmarunya
    A rather strange selection of speakers... A lot of well received speakers in this price range are missing (the Audioengine A2/A5 for example) and even the speakers that you did select are strange at best. They range from lower end ones to fairly expensive speakers. Not a real apples to apples comparison.
  • mcVAN
    1. If you take measurements in a live room, which your room appears to be, the reflections (echoes) make a complete hash of all freq. response tests. NONE OF YOUR FREQ RESP. GRAPHS CAN BE TRUSTED. The only way that FR testing in a live room can be done accurately is to time-limit the signal or the capture -- ie capture only the first -- say -- 50ms of the white noise (or whatever test signal you are using). Short enough so that most of the room reflections don't have time to get to the mic.

    2. Nowhere is listening setup indicated. What room, what position, what distance between speakers & listener, etc, etc. Atop the desk? On stands? close to the wall? away from the walls? within 4' of the speakers? 8' away? Speaker/listener positioning is so pertinent to the end result you hear. You blithely tell us of subjective impressions without a single word about the setup for each speaker system.
  • dz1
    Yet another reviewer who fails to mention the annoying buzz the amp makes on the AV40. I had to get rid of two sets because of the humming problem that reviewers like to ignore. I've owned about a dozen sets of computer speakers and none buzzed like the AV40.
  • Anonymous
    I've always been intrigued by the PC audio amplifier/speaker systems and the prices they command, and the fact that PC-oriented reviewers never look any further than these 'PC dedicated' systems. As a music buff first and foremost, even the top-end PC speaker systems sound appalling compared to even a moderate hi-fi. Resorting to e-Bay and the like I was able to get a Meridian 101/103 pre and power amp, and a pair of fantastic specialist-made bookshelf speakers for under £200. Yes they're old, but to better their audio performance you would need to spend GBP1,000 plus on new equipment. This is real hi-fi and better than most people's main audio systems today. Music and game audio from the PC are a world apart from anything these PC speakers will deliver.
  • dz1
    What bookshelf speakers do you have or do you recommend costing under £200? I am looking at a second hand pair of Monitor Audio BR1. The AV40 would have been great if it didn't hum.