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Bowers & Wilkins PM-1 Bookshelf Speaker First Look

Bowers & Wilkins PM-1

Bowers & Wilkins PM-1


  • Product Name: PM-1
  • Manufacturer: Bowers & Wilkins
  • Review Date: June 10, 2011 11:20
  • MSRP: $2,800/pair (stands $550/pair)
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool
Model PM1
Description 2-way vented-box system
Technical features Nautilus™ tube loaded tweeter with carbon fibre reinforced aluminium dome
Kevlar® brand fibre cone bass / midrange
Drive units 1x ø25mm (1in) reinforced aluminium dome high-frequency
1x ø130mm (5 in) woven Kevlar® cone bass / midrange
Frequency response 48Hz - 22kHz ±3dB on reference axis
Frequency range -6dB at 42Hz and 60kHz
Dispersion 48Hz - 22kHz ±3dB on reference axis
Horizontal: over 60º arc
Vertical: over 10º arc
Sensitivity 84dB spl (2.83V, 1m)
Harmonic distortion 2nd and 3rd harmonics (90dB, 1m)
<1% 110Hz - 22kHz
Nominal impedance 8Ω (minimum 5.1Ω)
Crossover frequency 4kHz
Recommended amplifier power 30W - 100W into 8Ω on unclipped programme
Max. recommended cable impedance 0.1Ω
Net weight 9.3kg (20.5lb)
Finishes Cabinet
Real wood veneers
Mocha Gloss
Grille Black
Height 620.5mm (25.6in) excluding spikes
Width 268mm (10.6in)
Depth 300mm (11.8in)

The new Prestige Monitor 1 (PM-1) from Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) is designed to fill the void formed when the 800 series was changed to diamond status. This left the $2,500-$3,500 price point without a product. Knowing that they still had consumers with those budgets, B&W took this as an opportunity to really innovate and come out with not just another "me too" speaker, but something very different. 


PM-1_angleThe PM-1 bookshelf speaker sports B&W's new Carbon Braced Tweeter. This tweeter, iconically mounted on top of the speaker, doesn't break up at 20kHz, or even 30kHz (like the Diamond speakers), but at 40kHz. This is well above the human range of hearing. This is done by bracing the 1" aluminum dome with a ring of filament-wound carbon fiber (technically Ultra High Modulus Pitch based carbon fiber). The tweeter enclosure, while similar to one in the 800 series, is a slightly different shape. The effect, however, is the same. The enclosure is self contained and is in the shape of a tapering tube to dissipate unwanted backward radiation. 

The 5" midbass driver has been upgraded as well with a new Foam Damping Cap (FDC). This is the dust cap in the center and B&W has found that it can be the weak point of the driver. They've fitted the FDC tightly inside the voice coil former. It has been designed to stop the voice coil former from deviating from round under the influence of cone break-up modes. When a driver cone (midbass or otherwise) breaks up, it is distorting under the strain of recreating the sound. This adds distortion and can muddy the sound.


The crossover, of course, had to be matched with this new components. B&W uses oxygen-free copper and Mundorf M-Cap Supreme Oil capacitors in a crossover described as "minimalist." They say they can use minimalist crossovers because their speakers and drivers are so well designed and constructed. The 25.6" high, 10.6" wide, 11.8" deep cabinet uses Matrix interlocking panels to create extreme rigidity and reduces mechanical vibration down to infinitesimal levels. The speakers weigh in at 20.5 pounds and are rating 48Hz - 22kHz ±3dB on axis (-6dB at 42Hz and 60kHz). They have and efficiency of 84dB spl (2.83V, 1m) and  a 8 ohm nominal impedance (5.1 minimum). While they technically shouldn't be a hard speaker to drive, we'd probably recommend an amp, especially for larger rooms.


So, what does this all translate to? Well, an MSRP of $2,800 a pair. In all honesty, that isn't out of the range of what we'd expect for this level of technology and fit and finish. The matching stands at $550 seem a bit pricy (and bulky) but we're sure new owners will want them. The speakers come in real wood veneers or the Mocha Gloss shown in the pictures. The sub 50Hz low point means that the speakers should play well with subs but can stand on their own for content without a ton of low bass. All in all, a very nice speaker at a reasonable (in audiophile terms) price point.

For more information, please visitwww.bowers-wilkins.com.


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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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