Surround Sound Speaker Systems

B&W VM6 Floor-standing Speakers, M-1 Surround Speakers and PV1 Subwoofer



Since these speakers are design focused there are some interesting decisions and compromises so I'll spend a little more time than usual discussing these elements.

The thirteen language diagrammatic style manuals for the VM6 feel a bit Ikea-esque, a fact reinforced by the not one, not two, but three different sized Allen keys supplied with the speakers. The smaller M1s "only" require two Allen keys but get a boost with sixteen languages in its manual. The VM6 and M1 include several technical features common to other B&W family members - namely a tube loaded tweeter and the "inspired by the aerodynamics of a golf ball"- dimpled Flowport. The VM6 also has the family Kevlar mid/bass cone while the M1 has a glass fiber unit with "resin filled slots" that are stated to assist in minimizing distortion.

The VM6s includes a heavy base for use as a table mount and brackets for wall mounting. Floor stands are available as a third option but are not included. The stands and wall mount are friction fit and can be applied in either horizontal or vertical orientations. In a wall mount setup the VM6 will protrude almost 5" from the wall which may be an aesthetic issue for those with super low profile TVs and mounts. At 26" long these speakers are not going to fade from view.

The M1 can also be mounted vertically or horizontally as a center speaker and comes with a table mount and wall mount options. A matching floor stand is again available separately. The mounting stem attaches to the speaker with a ball joint that allows it to pivot in any direction after one of the Allen keys is used to loosen a screw. The VM6 wall mount allows some motion left to right but no vertical tilt adjustment.

The "PV" in PV1 stands for "Pressure Vessel" and in this case describes the design inspiration of the sub – namely from deep sea diving bells. The design is an attempt to obtain a small sub with decent power, bass extension and low cabinet coloration; all this from a sub that "comfortably passes through a basketball hoop". This I will have to hear for myself! The sub comes with power cable and also includes a length of 4 wire telephone style cable with an RJ11 jack on one end and bare wire on the other for use with speaker level inputs but provides no speaker level outs. RCA In and Out jacks round out the remaining connectors underneath.

The connectors and fuse are located in a recess on the underside of the sub and the five controls (power, crossover, 3 mode eq, gain and phase adjust) are on the back. The controls have obviously been designed to not detract from the looks of the unit if exposed to scrutiny. However, as a result of the styling touch to the dials they require a large coin or screwdriver to adjust. Since the controls are oriented towards the bottom of the sphere you tend to end up rolling it around like a large medicine ball if you need to make adjustments. Granted, in its target market it is more likely to be set it and forget it so this makes sense.

The VM6 speaker grills are black cloth with a chrome trim and are non-removable and essentially integrated into the gloss plastic body. The M-1 also has a gloss black body but comes with a non removable black metal grill and chromed stand. There were a few small bubbles in the trim on one of the VM6 speakers but the M1 and PV1 finishes were fine if somewhat susceptible to fingerprints.

The VM6 and M-1 are both ported (Flowport in B&W speak) and both include foam bungs for their ports which are located on the upper rear of both types of speakers.

Both the VM6 and M-1 can be utilized on their own as complete 2.1 or 5.1 systems and while all three speakers come in black or silver (grey) the M-1 and PV1 also have the option of white.

View a short video