The party on the patio comes courtesy of B&W AM-1 weatherproof speakers
By Paul Ridden
March 14, 2013
There are lots of options for enjoying outdoor audio whatever the weather, including TDK's Wireless Weatherproof Speaker, the Eco Terra Boombox and Braven's Bluetooth speakers. If you're looking for a permanent speaker installation, though, high-end audio specialist Bowers & Wilkins (B&W;) says its new AM-1 Architectural Monitors are a little different from standard wall-mounted, weatherproof loudspeakers.
Naturally, the AM-1 monitors deliver the kind of audio performance expected from the company that brought us the gorgeous Zeppelin, the excellent P5s and the PV1D bookshelf speakers. They feature an unusual inverted drive unit configuration, with a 25-mm (1-in) Nautilus tube loaded aluminum-dome tweeter mounted below the 130-mm (5-in) glass fiber bass/mid driver. B&W; says that this ensures optimum audio delivery when the unit is mounted high on a wall.
"When used outdoors, speakers tend to be mounted above the listener, and so we wanted to angle the AM-1's optimum listening axis (i.e. the point where the units operate exactly in phase) down by around 10 degrees," explained B&W;'s senior development engineer Dr John Dibb. "With limited front-to-back driver positioning on this baffle, it was easier to achieve the downward tilt with the tweeter-below configuration."
There's an auxiliary bass radiator to the rear that's claimed to offer an exceptional bass response while also allowing the housing to be sealed against the elements. The glass-filled plastic housing fronted by an aluminum grille has undergone extensive ruggedness and durability testing, including some time in an accelerated salt-spray chamber and outdoor UV accelerated life tests.
Designed for landscape or portrait positioning, each monitor also benefits from a cast aluminum wall bracket with one-plug mounting system, that allows it to be rotated 110 degrees from its center in both directions.
The 310 x 180 x 210-mm (12.25 x 7 x 8.25-inch), 4 kg (8.8 lb) AM-1 Architectural Monitor has a wall-mounted frequency response of 51 Hz - 22 kHz, 86 dB sensitivity, a total harmonic distortion of less than one percent 200 Hz - 20 kHz (86 dB, 1 m), a nominal impedance of 8 ohms, and requires amplifier power of at least 20 W.
The B&W; AM-1 monitors are available this month in either black or white, for US$600 a pair.
Product page: AM-1