Bowers & Wilkins VM1 Speakers and AS1 Subwoofer Reviewed

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Bowers & Wilkins VM1 Speakers and AS1 Subwoofer Reviewed

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Unlike the VM1, at the front of the AS1 is B&Ws Flowport. Many bass cabinets have "turbulence" in and out of the tuning port. The Flowport design uses golf ball aerodynamics to smooth the airflow and reduce acoustic interference. The AS1 has a fit, unobtrusive appearance and is offered in a contemporary silver finish with gray grille or sleek black ash with matching grille.

Installation/Setup/Ease of Use - Next to my giant black Zenith 55" rear projection display, the VM1s were hardly noticeable. I installed the front UR and surrounds onto the optional floor stands. While they looked good next to my "big screen" I was disappointed that the base-plate of the floor stands did not include carpet spikes. This made them a bit unstable. Setup was a snap. Each floor stand took all of two minutes to unpack and assemble--even the hex-wrench required is affixed to each speaker. I used the small footprint stand for the horizontal installation of the center channel on top of my display. Each VM1 features five-way binding posts for speaker connectivity. I connected these speakers to my Marantz SR8200 A/V receiver, using a Rotel RDV-1080 DVD player as the source. My cables include Revelation interconnects throughout and WireWorld speaker cables.

Final Take - When I'm listening to anything in 5.1, I want to hear details; some details are obvious; others are not so obvious. Nonetheless, all details are important and a good speaker ensemble and subwoofer will present them all--accurately. I found that the VM1 speakers and AS1 subwoofer filled my room up like sails on a windy day. With The Count of Monte Cristo, the sword fighting scenes sounded crisp and brilliant--exactly what I've come to expect from a B&W speaker. Each sound of a steel blade slicing shirt or skin, or clashing against another was near perfect; each note stayed the course. The midrange per-
formed marvelously, meeting the tweeter smoothly and effectively. The AS1 sub didn't cop out with deeper passages. Through Faith Hill's DVD-Audio Cry the VM1 again produced vocals and details flawlessly and effortlessly. I could hear the guitar pick scratching against the strings on a few tracks--always a true test of a speaker's will. Though the AS1 pleased my ears, I am not one to make the house shake--and neither is this sub. Nevertheless, the AS1 is a solid performer providing good low-end bass for mild to medium levels.

It is never easy to switch gears from my typical "reference system" that is made up of Infinity KAPPA series speakers, Integra processing and Krell amplification. After all, a $1,250 speaker system has a lot of catching up to do with an $8,000 speaker system.

The B&W VM1s make one recalculate an investment of over 4 times the cost. While most "lifestyle" speakers aren't worth mentioning, the VM1s boast a delightful performance with B&W heritage. Add to that the wonderful ergonomics and resulting flexibility and I argue that it will be a long time coming before a rival is found.

5-Year limited warranty
Foot-stands/wall-mounts included
Floor-stands optional
21" x 5" W x 3.5" D
Weight: 6 lbs. each
Frequency response: 75Hz -- 20kHz
Finishes: black, white, and silver
MSRP: $200 each

5-Year limited warranty
85-watt vented box enclosure
6.5" woofer
Frequency range: -6dB at 27Hz and 100Hz
(music/movie mode)
Inputs: Line in (RCA/phono), speaker level in
Outputs: Line out (RCA/phono), speaker level out
14.9" T x 9.8" W x15.2" D
Weight: 24.2 lbs.
Finishes: black ash vinyl w/black grille
or silver w/gray grille
MSRP: $250

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