Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) FPM On-wall Speakers Reviewed

Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) FPM On-wall Speakers Reviewed

The FPMs are Bowers & Wilkins first foray into wall speakers and they provide the quality listeners have come to expect from B&W in a smaller size. It also comes in a variety of colors to blend in well with almost any room. "One no longer has to sacrifice quality a thin, wall-mount chassis and lifestyle aesthetics."

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Bowers and Wilkins is an Icon in the world of audiophile speakers. Their legendary 801s are tremendous speakers that are still used the world over in many of the finest recording studios. Reality is that many people don't want a speaker taking up a bunch of floor space and would rather have them hanging on the wall next to their flat panel televisions. Accordingly, Bowers and Wilkins designed the Flat Panel Monitor series to maintain their reputation of quality sound reproduction while fitting in with today's lifestyle driven aesthetics.

Additional Resources
Read more on-wall speaker reviews from this HomeTheaterReview.com resource page.
Read a review of the Definitive Technology Mythos XTR-50 On-wall speaker system.

The primary speakers in the series are the FPM 4, 5, & 6, which are designed to flank monitors in the 40, 50 & 60 inch size ranges accordingly. The FPM 4 measures 22.2 inches high, six and seven-tenths inches wide and four inches deep. The FPM 5 is four inches longer at 26.2 inches high and the FPM 6 is 31.3 inches high, seven and seven-tenths inches wide and four and four-tenths inches deep. I found the FPM 5 to perfectly flank my Panasonic 50 inch plasma with the FPM 6 fitting nicely below it in the horizontal position for my center channel. A smaller FPM 2 is available for surround duty as is a subwoofer the PV1. The FPM 4, 5, & 6 retails at $700, $800 and $900, respectively. These are not cheap lifestyle speakers, they are real speakers designed to fit the lifestyle aesthetic that is so popular in today's world.

The FPM 4, 5, and 6 all feature similar designs and construction . All feature two mid-woofers flanking a tweeter in the classic D'Appolito arrangement. All are two way speakers with vented enclosures. The enclosures, along with their grilles can be had in silver, anthracite or black to fit with nearly any décor. So far, everything sounds fairly normal. However, these are not just another wall mounted speaker, these are B&Ws. The port features B&W's flowport technology, basically gold ball like dimples on a flared port which reduces turbulence. This has the effect of increasing port efficiency while reducing any port noise. The mid-woofers, four inch models in the FPM 4 & 5 and five inches in the FPM 6, are made out of Kevlar. Those familiar with the B&W line will recognize this as a B&W signature feature which provides for a stiff, yet low mass cone. Lastly, the tweeter is tube loaded, a design which has trickled its way down from B&W's famed Nautilus line. This design feature reduces back pressure and distortion, allowing the tweeter to play much cleaner.

Read about the high points and the low points of the FPMs.

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High Points
• The Bowers and Wilkins FPM Series offer ultra-high-quality speaker
design and build quality as you would expect from a B&W speaker
while maintaining a low profile, wall mounted form factor.
• B&W gets big points for their size and color options allow easy integration into most decors.• There are stand mount option available for those situations where wall mounting is not an option.

Low Points
• Compared to even small floorstanding speakers - the dynamic range of the FPM series is a little limited thus its important to match with a good (B&W) subwoofer and a powerful receiver. If you think you are going to want to play Godsmack at 120 dB, you should skip on-wall speakers altogether.
• Integration with a subwoofer can be tricky. I would only use a B&W woofer or a top woofer system with room correction like a Sunfire or Velodyne.

Conclusion
One normally has to make a choice between speakers with "lifestyle aesthetics" and those capable of quality sound reproduction. The Bowers & Wilkins Flat Panel Monitor series lets you have both. No, you're not going to get the same quality of sound reproduction you can get out of their other, larger, free standing speakers. These speakers, due primarily to being wall mounted cannot provide the same quality of soundstage and imaging as free standing monitors but otherwise perform quite well as a music speaker.

The trickle-down design features implemented in the Flat Panel Monitor series provide a welcome level of performance for wall mounted speakers. One no longer has to sacrifice quality a thin, wall-mount chassis and lifestyle aesthetics. If you are looking for quality speakers to flank your wall mounted television, give the B&W Flat Panel Monitors a listen.

Additional Resources
Read more on-wall speaker reviews from this HomeTheaterReview.com resource page.
Read a review of the Definitive Technology Mythos XTR-50 On-wall speaker system.

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