B&W LM 1 Leisure Monitors

In my first impressions, I did mention that I am not really fond of the color. Well, I still don’t. It makes them look “cheap”. Nonetheless, these are speakers are excellent for their price, and certainly aren’t ones to overlook.

Bowers & Wilkins is a very well known British speaker company that makes really good “serious” loudspeakers. Their venture into the budget speaker market is rather unexpected for these speakers though, but I can somewhat expect quality sound to come out of these heavy little guys. Their name isn’t place on these for nothing, right?

Build Quality

You can tell right away with these speakers that they are very well made, as one of my first impressions of the speakers are how heavy they are for their size. The tweeter grills can be taken off, interestingly, but the main grills are permanent. The base is adjustable for on-wall installation, and three holes for nails on the bottom of the base, should you want to install it on the wall, in a fashion like a clock. Because of their weight, one nail in the wall may not be able to hold it’s weight.

Overall quality demonstrates good bracing and quality materials for speakers of these size and price, retailing at about $175 each (NOT per pair). They have been discontinued, so you can find only find the in the aftermarket. As of now, November 4th, they go for about $200 per pair on sites like eBay. The reason for selling these in single quantities is for very the reason that you can utilize these speakers for a full surround, if you so desire. Even if you don’t you can just purchase a pair and use them as a stereo set. After trying these speakers out, they aren’t don’t seem like “leisure monitors”, in a good way.

Placements

I placed these where I would usually place my Sony SS-K10ED, and run in a 2.1 fashion with my sub-woofer. The sub-woofer is essential for the full-range listening, as they can only go down to 75 Hz, and even by then you probably won’t hear the 75 Hz being played. The connectors don’t seem to allow my banana tip to be plugged in without unscrewing the cap, so where the bare wires would go to is the only way to plug them in. Luckily, they are big enough to fit my banana tips. I didn’t toe them in as they don’t seem need to be for the imaging.

Sound quality

Overall, these are excellent sounding speakers. I think they are slightly brighter sounding because they are also intended to be used as monitors. Strings sound realistic, but in the rare occasion of soft orchestral background music, they can sound slightly unnatural. If only you did pick out the background music and critically listen to them (you don’t right?).

Separation of instruments and vocals are excellent. You can definitely differentiate which instruments are which in rock bands when I listen to the likes of One Ok Rock, for example, or Asian Kung-Fu Generation, and cymbals are definitely separated and not muddled together like some budget speakers. Speaking of cymbals, they sound metallic, and sound energetic when called upon. A good quality to have for speakers. The acoustic and electric guitar sounds decent and you can sometimes hear the fingers plucking. Shows the detail and clarity the speakers can produce. Imaging is quite good, and the speakers have a slight emphasis on vocals. Sound stage production is decent, wide but quite shallow on the depth. The (“s”) of vocals on these speakers are really nice. Sharp, but not very sharp.

Overall quality of the speakers allow you to listen to them for long periods and not get very fatigued. I cannot yet test and review them as surround speakers, but they should in theory fit nicely as surrounds because of their bright characteristics. Despite it being brighter sounding, they can produce quite realistic sound and should please the ears for both intended functions of sound production. Being in the budget category means doesn’t mean anything when they can sound this good for their price!

The Verdict

These speakers are really a gem (quite literally with their turquoise color too). With the quality of sound these guys can produce, B&W can proudly call their speakers one of the top in the “leisure” budget category, like how they are considered one of the top in their “serious” category. It reflects how much effort they have put into their speakers. From their price point, they are definitely ones to short-list when looking for quality aftermarket budget speakers. The color scheme for the LM1 lineup has some better choices, but sometimes you have to take what you can. The aesthetics don’t mean that they are a different make and model. For their excellent build quality, their excellent sound and versatility as either main or surround, I would say get them if you can. Sometimes I don’t even think they are budget speakers.

P.S. I personally have not listened B&W speakers, but if their “leisure” monitors sound this good, and are in the budget category, I cannot wait to listen to their “serious” loudspeakers!

Summary

Strengths

  • Excellent sound for their price
  • Good as both main Stereo and surround purposes
  • Don’t sound like their price and category

Inconveniences/dislikes

  • Connector versatility
  • Specifically the turquoise color
  • Shallow sound stage

Did I Miss something?

Please let me know if I have missed anything, and for any feedback regarding this article 🙂

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