In this field, the Bowers & Wilkins AM-1 must be called a medium-sized speaker. However, there is nothing mediocre about the speaker, which has both the finest performance and the best sound in this test.
It is available in black and white, the cabinet is waterproof and solid, and it comes with an L-shaped aluminum bracket that is attached to one side of the speakers. The bracket also acts as an extended connection for the cables, which are attached to the inside of the bracket, where it is screwed to the wall or ceiling.
The bracket is elaborate, and the same can be said about the speakers. The quality impression is as expected of a B&W speaker. It is equipped with B & W’s Nautilus tweeter, and a 5-inch bass with fiberglass membrane. The back is a single large passive slave bass, in a waterproof rubber suspension, but it is not bass heavy for that reason.
The sound of Bowers & Wilkins AM-1
Balance is the word here. The medium-sized B&W speakers deliver a generous and very well-balanced sound image. After the first impression has subsided, you notice that they also have more bass than you might think. These are not the sharpest focused or most resolved speakers we have tested, but there is coherence here, all the time.
The bass hangs well even when you play loud, it may swing more of the Focal speakers, which can also play louder, but it is easy to get engaged by B & W’s outdoor speakers. They get good help from the slave bass behind, which gives Ariana Grande convincing dynamics and sound pressure. This is perhaps the most all-round speakers in the test, and clearly the best in classical music. None of the speakers in this test come close to the B&W speakers’ refined and resolved string sound, for example.
The Bowers & Wilkins AM-1 must be beaten by the Focal 100 OD8 in terms of volume and sound pressure, but it has more than plenty of bass for garden parties, and at the same time sounds more focused and better balanced than both Focal and the other speakers in the test. This is the speaker you should have if the sound quality is most important. The only downside to the AM-1 is that it needs a potent amplifier to shine on the patio.