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B&W MM-1 Speakers


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Ok, this is not really a technical review as such - but more of some observations.

 

I have a small lounge - 6 x 3.5 metres, and mounted on one long wall is a 32" Sharp Aquos TV that is used in conjunction with an Apple TV2. (My listening position be directly opposite the TV). As to be expected the sound from the TV is "crap" and so I was looking for a solution that involved minimum clutter / cables. (Wife have taken exception to amp, small book shelf speakers & mac mini connected to TV).

 

Having "trawled" through the internet for a cheap optical dac to use with Apple TV 2, I came across this: FiiO D3 Coaxial/Optical DAC. Reading further, it seems a lot of people have purchased this to use with devices (i.e. LCD TV's / ATV's) that only have optical out. The main selling point being that they are very cheap.

 

Having sorted the optical / analogue issue it I needed to decide if I should recycle my amp & book shelf speakers or look around around for a pair of active speakers.

 

Lots of looking, lots of reading finally led me to consider the B&W Air Zeppelin -- BUT - the only catch being that its rather pricey here in Singapore: 1200 SGD. While thinking about it further I came across a reference to the MM-1s. I have to admit that after looking at comments / reviews for them, on this site and the "wider internet" it seemed that they were a bit of a '50/50' call. However, the price was sub 1000 SGD and the big advantage was that they had "better" physical separation than the Zeppelin. (Meaning that I could place them either side of the TV)

 

So yesterday I "trundled" along to the local dealer with macbook, cables, and some test music to demo the MM-1s. However, the best laid plans of mice and men.... I ended up demoing a Zeppelin instead, and I was impressed, very impressed.

 

So, says I, I will take it - salesman - 3 week wait, I - what ???

 

Being in the mode "I wants it now", I turned to the MM-1s sitting there and asked if i could demo them. So I did and I was also impressed, though not so much as I was with the Zeppelin. Thinking about it, I decided these will do. (The old maxim about money burning a hole in my pocket did cross my mind.)

 

At home I located the MM-1s either side of the TV and connected the macbook to them via the USB port - (16 / 48kHz). I then fired up Audirvana Plus and proceeded to play a selection of tracks. The sound was clean and precise, but I guess one would say a tad "digital". Still, the sound filled the room easily -and was easy to listen to.

 

I then connected my macbook to my nuforce udac2, and a monster rca to 3.5mm jack cable to the aux input and then proceeded to play further tracks via Audirvana. I would have to agree a comment that was made on this site - the speakers do sound better when used via the aux input. To me, they sounded rounder / fuller, less 'digital'. Which was a good start since this approximated more closely the actual end setup I had in mind. (Still waiting on the Fiio D3).

 

I only have about 6 hours on the speakers so far, so not sure if there will be any noticeable change as they "burn in", but I am impressive by their performance.

(Little spreaders - big sound, but not the over driven distorted sound one would expect from small speakers being driven hard)

 

The supplied remote control actually worked with Audirvana to control the volume, pause / play when the speakers were connected to the macbook via the USB cable, but the volume increments were very coarse - too coarse to be of any real practical use.

 

When used with the speakers connected to the macbook via the aux port, the remote volume control is a lot more precise (Nuforce and Audirvana volume controls being set to max), and it actually very handy. (Meaning also, my youngest son who is 6, will have no issue in using them in conjunction with the Apple TV - Ultraman Youtube videos -- "luvly")

 

So, am looking forward to using these in conjunction with my Apple TV2. :-)

 

 

 

 

Source: 1.0TB OWC Mercury Elite Pro < FW800> Mac Mini (2009 / 10.8.3)

1.0TB WD MY PASSPORT Mac Mini (2009 / 10.8.3)

 

Players (Hardware): MacBook Pro 13 (2011, 10.8.3 8 gig), ATV2

Amp / DAC: Nuforce DDA-100

Speakers: ELAC 201

 

Software: iTunes & BitPerfect / Audirvana Free / Audirvana Plus / MPD 0.16.6

Connectivity: subject to random changes

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm a bit disappointed with the MM-1. I think they are quite over-priced. When I first got them, they sounded terrible, but through a combination of placement and possibly burn-in, they now sound ok for near-field listening. But not great.

 

If I compare MM-1 with USB out ($500), vs. a $100 NuForce micro-DAC paired with Audioengine 2 powered speakers, which I picked up for $150, that combo really blows away the MM-1. The sound is far cleaner (no DSP for starters, and the micro-DAC is capable of 24/96).

 

The ATV2 has optical out, so it seems a bit counter-intuitive to skip using the USB DAC that the MM-1 have, and then have to buy a second DAC for an optical-only device.

 

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reached about 30 hours of use with the MM-1s. I haven't bothered with the usb input after the first hour of use. Strictly AUX in.

 

Placement wise they fit perfectly either side of my 32" sharp Aquous TV. The ATV 2 is feeding into them via FiiO D3 DAC (very cheap ) -- and it works very well. Spent $60 on a "better" optical cable, and am finally reusing the Monster RCA to 3.5mm lead I brought from Apple when the first Airport Express came out.

 

My listening position is directly opposite the TV and just out side the optimum distance - approx 1.5m.

 

Of all the music I have listened to, the only pice that was very disappointing was Antal Dorati 's : Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra 1958 recording of 1812 - the cannons didn't stand out at all -- not that I was really surprised.

 

They certainly work well with movies etc, and my boys like them.

 

Value for money -- not really. Here in Singapore they retail for 850 SGD. Even taking exchange rate, GST (sales tax - 7%) and some mark up into account, I del they were over priced by about 100 SGD. The Zeppelins suffer like wise BUT the MM-1s allow me to have a very clean deck / presentation in terms of cables etc, and that keeps my wife happy. :-)

 

The FiiO D3 DAC - a uber cheap DAC

 

http://hifiduino.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/inside-fiio-d3/.

 

I did use the MM-1s, Fiio D3 with optical out on my Macbook Pro, Audirvana Plus and some sample DSD Diff files from Blue Coast Records --- and was very impressed by the sound. makes me want more DSD Diff files.

 

DSD Diff samples:

 

http://audiogate.bluecoastrecords.com/

 

 

 

Source: 1.0TB OWC Mercury Elite Pro < FW800> Mac Mini (2009 / 10.8.3)

1.0TB WD MY PASSPORT Mac Mini (2009 / 10.8.3)

 

Players (Hardware): MacBook Pro 13 (2011, 10.8.3 8 gig), ATV2

Amp / DAC: Nuforce DDA-100

Speakers: ELAC 201

 

Software: iTunes & BitPerfect / Audirvana Free / Audirvana Plus / MPD 0.16.6

Connectivity: subject to random changes

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I have one at home and one at work, so I think the simplest thing is for me to take the MM-1s to work, except I am hiding at home today to get some work done (ironic in many ways).

 

I think the A5s are significantly better. I heard both at the SF audio show and impulse-bought the A2s. Bob Stern said he thought they sounded a bit congested. I've got them in a very echo-ey office with a 100 gallon reef tank, so I'm not exactly putting them to the best test...

 

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I seriously considered buying the BW MM1 when I set up my desktop system. I had to go on reviews (which is clearly not as good as auditioning). I decided to buy the Audioengine N22 amp and P4 speakers instead. The sound quality is very good and it has a pretty decent headphone amp as well. You can add a dac such as the HRT music streamer and have a set up that comes very close to the MM-1 in price.

 

Macmini (as server)-> AE Express/SB Touch-> Dacmagic plus -> Outlaw RR2150 -> PSB Image T6 (dedicated 2 channel audio system)

Macmini (via toslink)-> NAD T747 -> PSB Imagine B/SVS SB2000 subwoofer (home theater)

Macbook Pro-> Peachtree idecco->PSB Imagine Minis, Energy ESW-M8 subwoofer, Beyerdynamic DT880 (home office)

IMac->audioengine D1 dac->airmotiv 4 (work system)

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