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Bowers & Wilkins Mini Theater MT-50 Speakers Review

Bowers & Wilkins Mini Theater MT-50 Speakers

Bowers & Wilkins Mini Theater MT-50 Speakers


  • Product Name: Mini Theater MT-50 Speakers
  • Manufacturer: Bowers & Wilkins
  • Review Date: June 18, 2012 05:20
  • MSRP: $1700
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!
  • Technical features: Nautilus™ tube loaded tweeter with aluminum dome, Woven glass fiber cone bass / midrange
  • Enclosure: 2-way vented-box system
  • Tweeter: 1x 25mm (1in) aluminum dome high-frequency
  • Woofer: 1x 100mm (4in) woven glass fiber cone bass / midrange
  • Frequency range: -6dB at 55Hz and 50kHz
  • Frequency response: 64Hz - 23kHz ±3dB on reference axis
  • Dispersion (horizontal): over 60º arc (within 2dB of reference response)
  • Dispersion (vertical): over 10º arc (within 2dB of reference response)
  • Sensitivity: 85dB spl (2.83V, 1m)
  • THD: 2nd and 3rd harmonics (90dB, 1m), <1% 120Hz - 30kHz
  • Nominal impedance: 8Ω (minimum 4.0Ω)
  • Crossover frequency: 4kHz
  • Recommended amp power: 20W - 100W into 8Ω on unclipped program
  • Dimensions (table stand):  9.8in H x 4.5in W x 6.4in D (248mm x 114mm x 162mm)
  • Weight:  5lb (2.3kg)
  • Cabinet: Matte Black or Matte White
  • Grille: Matte Black or Matte White perforated steel to match

Most people who are into home theater and speakers will have heard of B&W. The company is known for its high performance speakers and they have a reputation for quality products. Recently, they've demonstrated a knack for making smaller speakers that sound bigger than they are. For example, we reviewed their MM-1 multimedia speakers and found them to be absolutely astounding. I mean, they're "this big"... Now, they've taken that same approach with their new M-1 Mini Theater Speakers. This is their MT-50 system which we reviewed. It includes five M-1 two-way speakers and an ASW608 8" subwoofer.

So what is this system. Well, it's two products, the very versatile M-1 speakers and the ASW608 sub. The M-1 speakers have a 1" metal dome tweeter and a 4" midrange woofer that's made out of woven fiberglass. They can handle amplifier power up to 100 watts, so they're going to work with just about any AV receiver. And when we said they were versatile we meant it. Each speaker can be tabletop mounted or wall mounted and the base has a rubber plate (for lack of a better word) that comes off to expose an included Torx wrench and push-spring type binding posts. These terminals are placed in a way that allows you to run bare wire into the base to the speaker without showing any connectors on the outside it's nothing short of brilliant and we hope they didn't patent it because we'd like to see this from others manufacturers as well.

MM-1 speaker grill CU

The reason they included a Torx wrench is so that you can remove the base and reorient the speaker for use as a center channel or to attach it to the included wall mount. B&W is clearly in the design business and they literally thought of everything with these speakers.

The ASW608 subwoofer is a sealed design with an 8" paper/Kevlar long throw woofer. There are a billion controls and connections on the back of the sub. OK, not a billion, but there are both line level and speaker level inputs, and controls include Volume for both the line and speaker inputs, a defeatable low pass crossover frequency dial, and a phase switch. If that were all, then we'd be exaggerating our description of how much configurability there was. But that's not it. The ASW608 sub also gives you a bass extension switch that limits the lower frequency response of the subwoofer in situations where you may have a larger room or want to run the sub at volume levels that would cause too much distortion in the maximum extension mode. That means you'll have less extension, but more output - it's a great option.

switches crossover volume

There is also an EQ switch that lets you apply an auto EQ curve for normal sub placement and also a setting for less resonant rooms or non-corner placement. The sub also has a 12V trigger for those who want to make sure the sub only comes on when the system is powered up. Fitting all of this technology into a 10x10x13 box is more than a little impressive.

MT-50 cleanOf course, as always, it was the sound that impressed us. The B&W MT-50 system sounds a LOT bigger than it is. And while playing back movies like How to Train Your Dragon, Inception, and Men In Black, really showed off the great imaging and the excellent bass response of the ASW608, it was music that really got our attention. The M-1 speakers, when coupled with the sub, produced a rich, smooth sound that had excellent midrange, and clear highs. But that wasn't our initial experience. It took some tweaking. You'll want to experiment with setting your crossover around 100Hz or so to make sure that you send enough of the required frequencies to the subwoofer where they'll get better treatment than through the M-1s. Though the specs claim a 3dB point at 64Hz, we didn't get the best results from an 80Hz crossover, the mid-bass was a tad lacking. Once dialed in, however, the system came alive. We think it's going to be a combination of taste and your room acoustics that determine where you set the crossover in your particular application.

MT-50 system

This system runs somewhere around $1700, but expect that price to vary by dealer. The bottom line is that the MT-50 system crushes your average home theater-in-a-box speakers. This is a real system that, while not cheap, will give you a great looking set of speakers that sound as good as they look.

Now listen, we've got a question for you this week: Do YOU think it's possible to get full, rich sound out of a small speaker system? Visit our YouTube page and leave a comment letting us know what you think. And also subscribe to our channel for more great videos (well, WE think they're great). Also 'Like' us at Facebook.com/audioholics and Follow us on Twitter @AudioholicsLive.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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Clint Deboer was terminated from Audioholics for misconduct on April 4th, 2014. He no longer represents Audioholics in any fashion.

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