In this context, the Bowers & Wilkins AM-1 must be called a medium-sized speaker. However, there is nothing middle-of-the-road 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 mounted on 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 woofer with fiberglass diaphragm. The back is a single large passive radiator, in a waterproof rubber suspension, but it is not bass heavy for that reason.
The sound of Bowers & Wilkins AM-1
Balanced is the word here. The medium-sized B&W speakers deliver a generous and very well-balanced sound. After the first impression has subsided, you notice that they also have more bass than you might think. These are not the most clearly focused or most resolved speakers we have come across, but there is coherence, all the time.
The bass keeps up even when you play loud. The Focal speakers might be more powerful, but it is easy to get engaged by B&W’s outdoor speakers. They get good assistance from the drone on the back, giving Ariana Grande convincing dynamics and sound pressure. This is perhaps the most all-round speakers in the test, and clearly the best for 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 are beaten by the Focal 100 OD8 in terms of sound pressure, but they have more than plenty of bass for garden parties, while at the same time sounding 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 powerful amplifier to shine on the patio.