Bowers & Wilkins M-1 Speaker User Manual

ound reproduction has gone through
big changes in recent years. The advent
of surround sound music and movie
sources are changing the hi-fi landscape
dramatically. Hi-Fi Choice continues to focus
firmly on the reproduction of music in stereo,
but it would be myopic to ignore multichannel
developments entirely, especially given the
development of SACD and DVD-Audio.
Because of the space required to house a
home cinema system, the 5.1 sub/sat
combination has become a core multichannel
market stereotype. Five small and easily sited
satellite speakers cover the mid and top, and
provide the surround effects, while the low bass
goes to a subwoofer that can be tucked
discreetly out of the way. This sub/sat approach
might particularly suit multichannel systems,
but it’s by no means a new idea, and is equally
valid for stereo. HFC tested a batch of three-box
stereo sub/sat systems way back in 1992; that’s
practically prehistoric in home cinema terms.
B&W obviously expects to sell most of its
new M-1 satellites as part of 5.1 systems,
alongside one of three alternative subwoofers,
but the ‘2.1’ or ‘three-box’ stereo option is
clearly an integral part of the scenario, too. The
press release claims the M-1 speakers front “an
audiophile sub/sat system”, and full discussion
of the stereo options is found in the very
thorough manual.
For the purposes of this review, the M-1
satellites were underpinned by the excellent
PV1 subwoofer, which we reviewed in full in
HFC 259. In fact, two PV1s were drafted in for
some tests, because physically separating the
bass sources gives more even room-drive.
That’s really a separate issue. The superior
performance of the PV1 is already a given, and
the main purpose here is to evaluate the little
M-1 satellite, and see how well it lives up to its
‘audiophile’ billing.
‘Son of Solid’ is the first reaction on
unpacking this system, though that’s largely
because both the M-1 and the previous Solid
designs feature an integral swivelling stand. In
fact, this new model is not only considerably
smaller and more flexible, it also, ironically,
feels a whole lot more, er, solid. Picking one up,
its considerable 2.7kg weight comes as quite a
surprise, since the enclosure is probably no
more than a litre or so in total volume (think
Tetrapack). Back and sides are a single alloy
casting, while the baffle, top and base is made
from tough ABS plastic. And if the alloy itself
is inherently very stiff, rigidity is further
enhanced by the curvaceous shape.
How small can you go? That’s the key
question the designer of any satellite speaker
must confront. Make it too big and no-one will
buy it; make it too small and you can kiss
goodbye to all hi-fi pretensions. The M-1 looks
a little larger than many of its rivals, which
should be a performance plus, but is still small
enough to look cute. Priced at £125 per
speaker, it’s hardly the cheapest satellite
around, but the serious engineering content
and clever design justify the asking price.
A two-way port-loaded design, it combines a
100mm main driver that has an advanced
80mm fibreglass cone, with a 25mm metal
dome tube-loaded tweeter. The crossover is
deliberately minimalist, and the mounting
arrangements are clever and flexible; the unit
may be used horizontally or vertically on its
stand/base, or fitted to a wall bracket or a slim
free-standing pillar. Cleverly, the stand also
doubles as a tiny speaker terminal block. The
M-1 is available in black, silver or white.
The satellites naturally have limited bass
extension, though they work well enough
down to around 140Hz. This matches
seamlessly to the PV1, which may be fed either
via its (unfiltered) line-level phono input, or
using the speaker-level connector with the
filter set to maximum bandwidth (150Hz).
Full metal jacket
B&W’s pretty little M-1 satellite makes a stylish partner for the massive ‘medicine ball’ PV1 sub
TYPE Satellite and subwoofer speaker system
PRICE (M-1) £125 each, (PV-1) £950
KEY FEATURES (M-1) Size (WxHxD): 11x21x15 cm
Weight: 2.7kg
Flexible mounting system
Cast alloy enclosure
25mm tube-loaded tweeter
100mm main driver
(PV1) Size (WxHxD):
29x34x35 cm
Weight: 20.5kg
Spherical cast alloy
2x200mm drivers
500W power amplifier
CONTACT 01903 221500 q
HFC270.rebwsub 56HFC270.rebwsub 56 2/6/05 7:43:18 pm2/6/05 7:43:18 pm