My desktop audio set up

On several of the podcasts I listen to regularly, there’s been some discussion about the best speakers for a home office setup. So here’s my take.

Unless I’m writing—at which point I need silence—I like to listen to music and watch movies while I’m working. Although I own AirPods and a pair of incredible sounding Bowers and Wilkins P5 wireless headphones, I prefer to listen out loud. When I was working in Australia, this wasn’t an option in that working environment and I found wearing headphones incredibly isolating. So, the best option for me is a pair of desktop speakers.

In the past, I’ve bought and sold a Bowers and Wilkins Z2 wireless speaker which we used in our rented office space. The Z2 was a fabulous sounding speaker, but it was plagued by AirPlay connection problems. A reliable connection and low latency are vital, especially when watching a lot of movies on a computer like I do. So, when I was setting up my home studio space again, I wanted a great sounding pair of speakers which could be wired directly to my computer.

I’ve loved Bowers and Wilkins products ever since I bought my hifi speakers over 20 years ago. Although they were already discontinued when I bought them, I decided on a pair of Bowers and Wilkins MM1 desktop speakers and found a refurbished pair online. MM1s cost £400 when new, but I paid just over £200. These MM1 speakers connect to my Mac via a USB cable and they look high quality. They’re loud, without distorting, sound fantastic with a great range for listening to music and movies.

Bowers and Wilkins don’t make wired desktop speakers anymore, but there are plenty of other options at the premium end. If I were buying speakers today, I’d think very carefully about whether I could justify the expense of a pair of KEF LSXs. These look and sound incredible, but justifying the £849 price tag might be tricky. For around the same price as a decent set of headphones, two Ruark Audio MR1 Mk2s would also sit nicely on my desk. A stereo pair of HomePod minis could be option for some people, but I would be worried about latency issues while watching movies.

It’s a shame that Bowers and Wilkins stopped making wired desktop speakers, but if the hifi speakers I bought from them over 20 years ago are anything to go by, I doubt I’ll ever need to buy new speakers again.


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