B&W AM1 review: outdoor high fidelity!

0
170

The B&W AM1 outdoor speaker is a two way model designed to withstand rain, wind, UVs and extreme temperatures. In addition to having an impressive design with a particularly discreet bracket, it benefits from the advanced technologies developed by B&W for its home speakers to ensure a high quality sound reproduction outside.

With its high power handling of 100 watts, this B&W speaker, priced at 599 euros per pair, seems ideal for a terrace, veranda, garden or any other space exposed to extreme weather conditions. Its ingenious cable management system simplifies installation and ensures perfect integration.

Are the B&W AM1 speakers easy to install and can they efficiently diffuse music in the garden?

The B&W AM1 is designed to be installed outside, on a patio or in a garden.

B&W AM1: packaging & accessories

The B&W AM1 speakers come with two angled wall brackets, a torx key to mount each speaker onto its base and an instruction manual with a drilling template for mounting.

Contents of the package

  • Pair of B&W AM1
  • Pair of brackets
  • Plastic torx key
  • Instruction manual with drilling template

B&W AM1: presentation

Waterproof and robust

The B&W AM1 speaker is designed for outdoor use in all seasons. This speaker is ideal for enjoying music on the patio or in the garden at any time of the year. Its robust cabinet is resistant to rain, snow, dust and wind. The B&W AM1 is also resistant to UV rays and extreme temperatures. It can therefore be left outside all year round, and its perfect waterproofing means it can even be installed in areas exposed to the elements or near a swimming pool.

The B&W AM1 speaker features a stainless steel aluminum grille mounted on an ultra-rigid, weatherproof chassis.

2-way, passive radiator

The B&W AM1 is equipped with a 5” midbass driver with a glass fiber cone. This material, which combines rigidity and lightness, is also very resistant to extreme weather conditions. This 5” driver is coupled to a passive radiator placed at the back of the speaker responsible for extending the bass response of the B&W AM1, instead of the port used in bass-reflex configurations. The radiator is composed of a rigid, convex shell mounted on a waterproof plastic surround and it diffuses the lows very effectively.

The reproduction of the highest frequencies is handled by a 1” aluminum dome tweeter. The tweeter is loaded in a Nautilus tube, which is responsible for eliminating rear waves that could interfere with the cone. The Nautilus tube is progressively tapered and filled with absorbent padding to gradually attenuate the energy of the rear wave until virtually all unwanted resonance is eliminated. The wave is concentrated through a hole in the pole pieces of the driver (away from the diaphragm) and gradually disappears into the tube.

100 watts RMS, 51Hz to 22kHz

The B&W AM1 outdoor speaker has a sensitivity of 86 dB, a nominal impedance of 8 ohms, and can support a maximum amplification of 100 watts RMS. The manufacturer recommends powering the speaker with an amplifier rated between 20 and 100 watts into 8 ohms, which encompasses the vast majority of hi-fi amplifiers and A/V receivers on the market. This B&W outdoor speaker covers a frequency range of 51Hz to 22kHz.

Quick and simple assembly

The B&W AM1 is easy to install and can be mounted on a wall or a partition made of wood, metal, plasterboard or materials such as brick or cinder blocks. Its aluminum bracket allows it to be installed vertically or horizontally, which means it can be mounted under a roof overhang for example. Once in place, the speaker can be angled (vertical mounting) or tilted (horizontal mounting) by 220 degrees.

Cable management

This Bowers & Wilkins AM1 speaker is wired using a very ingenious system. The two spring-loaded metal terminals are built into the bracket on the wall mounting side to receive the speaker cable from the amplifier. These terminals are connected by cables running through the bracket, that are therefore isolated from any contact with the outside, to two concentric metal rings integrated into the attachment system of the speaker to the bracket. These two rings act as positive and negative terminals. On the speaker side, two metal contacts are integrated into the mounting system and come to rest on each ring of the bracket once the speaker is screwed onto it.

This ingenious system guarantees a very discreet installation without visible cables. It also guarantees optimal contact regardless of the position of the speaker, without generating tension on the cables.

B&W AM1: key specifications

  • Max. power handling: 100W RMS
  • Recommended amplifier power: 20W – 100W (8 ohms, without clipping)

Drivers

  • 1 x 5” midbass driver with fiberglass cone + ABR passive radiator
  • 1 x Nautilus tube loaded 1” tweeter with aluminum dome

Measurements

  • Frequency response: 51Hz to 22kHz (-3 dB)
  • Sensitivity: 86 dB
  • THD: < 1% from 200Hz to 20kHz (86 dB at 1m)
  • Nominal impedance: 8 Ω (5.2 Ω minimum)

General

  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 180 x 310 x 210mm
  • Net weight: 4kg

B&W AM1: configuration

For our review, we installed the B&W AM1 outdoor speakers under a pergola in our garden using rust proof wood screws. After drilling a hole for the speaker cable, we attached the bracket to the pergola, making sure it was level.

We then inserted the cable from the back and connected it to the terminals before repositioning the cover.

Finally, we installed the speaker on its bracket and positioned it before tightening the screws completely. The speaker and stand are secured with the long stainless steel screw provided, using the torx key supplied with the speakers. This plastic key can be replaced with a metal one to ensure a secure fastening.

We tested the B&W AM1 speakers by connecting them to the Rega IO stereo amplifier that delivers 2 x 30 watts into 8 ohms. We used NorStone Silver 150 speaker cable for this purpose. The amplifier is not waterproof, so it must be placed inside the house. To control it from the garden, a network audio player was connected to the amplifier for music playback via Qobuz from the smartphone app and from the Audirvana software on a laptop.

B&W AM1: listening impressions

Despite the modest power of the Rega IO, this combination proved perfectly capable of delivering music effectively in our garden, not just around the pergola. The speakers responded well and distributed the sound over a wide area without having to push the volume too high on the amplifier.

Once the B&W AM1 speakers were angled slightly toward the listening area, we were able to enjoy accurate stereo spatialization, with precise centering of voices and a convincing width of the soundstage.

The energy instilled in the speakers by the amp resulted in a very good rhythmical handling and a flawless responsiveness. Therefore, despite the use of a passive radiator, there was no drag in the low frequencies.

The listening experience proved to be globally balanced, the B&W AM1 speakers offering clear and precise highs, a rich midrange and well defined lows. Of course, the ambient conditions have a direct impact on the sound, the ideal being a quiet environment to take full advantage of the acoustic qualities of these speakers. When this was the case, we enjoyed a rich and detailed sound, with well defined rhythm in the lows, realistic timbres and a lot of detail.

B&W AM1: compared to…

KEF Ventura 5

More traditional in its design and aesthetics, with a U-shaped wall bracket and terminals on the speaker, the KEF Ventura 5 is less eye-catching than the B&W AM1, whose soft lines and wall bracket are very appealing. Regarding sound, the B&W model also has the edge over the KEF with more generous lows that are more widely distributed.

Elipson Rain 8

The Elipson Rain 8 speaker differs from the B&W AM1 by the use of a 7.8” midbass driver inside a cabinet with more imposing dimensions. Although it gives a little more substance to the sound, this driver does not go as low as the 5” driver of the English speaker which, associated with the big passive radiator at the back, gives a nice amplitude to the bass register. The B&W AM1 is certainly more expensive, but the sound is more impressive.

B&W AM1: who is it for?

The B&W AM1 speakers are designed for anyone looking for a durable, weatherproof hi-fi installation to enjoy true hi-fi sound on their terrace or patio or in their garden. The speakers will also appeal to those who want to play music in their bathroom or by the pool without compromising on sound quality. The B&W AM1 speakers are also recommended for use in cafes, restaurants, reception areas and retail spaces.

B&W AM1: conclusion

Easy to install with their ingenious stand with integrated wiring, nicely designed and rather easy to power, the B&W AM1 outdoor speakers are a great solution for playing music in a garden. Installed in our pergola, they were relatively discreet despite their size and did not distract from the surroundings.

Once the music starts playing, they are detailed, precise and energetic. Although it is not extremely deep, the bass is well defined and marks the tempo effectively, even at moderate volume. The listening experience is very pleasant, so much so that one is constantly tempted to increase the volume.

We liked

  • The easy installation
  • The efficiency of the lows
  • The tonal balance

We would have liked

  • A metal torx key
  • A more accessible price

Share your opinion!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.