Bowers & Wilkins PV1

A stylish subwoofer

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Bowers & Wilkins PV1
  • Bowers & Wilkins PV1
  • Bowers & Wilkins PV1
  • Bowers & Wilkins PV1
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5


  • Powerful, incredible low-frequency kick, compact, great styling


  • Not as versatile as we would have liked for movies

Bottom Line

Even though it’s clearly an exercise in contemporary styling, the PV1 is a great sub for music listeners. It’s not as fantastic if you watch movies, but it still does an exemplary job.

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B&W'S PV1 subwoofer has been created with style in mind — it's a far cry from the squat, square boxes that are so common — but doesn't suffer because of it. It's great for music lovers with its focus on quick, controlled beats, although it isn't as expansive and room-filling as we would have liked for action movies.

The styling is eye-catching to say the least. B&W's media release jokingly calls the PV1 — short for 'Pressure Vessel' — "a little less ugly" than regular subwoofers. And it is. The spherical form factor is also technically superior to a cube-shaped enclosure, so its looks are part of a package deal.

Setup is relatively simple; just place the subwoofer where you want it, and connect it to a power point. The PV1 has a plate amplifier built in, so you don't need a dedicated home theatre amplifier to run it. Analog RCA connectors are used to receive audio signals, although there is a speaker-level input available. The subwoofer also has an RCA output for connecting to a second subwoofer, but why you'd need one is beyond us.

The PV1 is a sealed subwoofer — there's no bass extension port to increase volume. Instead it uses two separate eight-inch subwoofer drivers in a push-pull arrangement to minimise unwanted resonance and vibration. The enclosure is constructed mainly of aluminium, making the unit quite heavy. Weighing in at slightly over 20 kilograms, it's certainly not portable.

It's not the most expensive subwoofer in Bowers & Wilkins' line-up by a long shot; that honour is held by the 855 at $6000. However, the PV1 is cheap only by comparison — $2000 is enough to buy almost any other component in a home theatre setup.

When it actually comes to listening, the PV1 won't disappoint. At all volumes it has a crisp, sharp sound, and never sounds slow or booming. It's a great subwoofer for people who purely listen to music, delivering notes precisely and evenly across the entire bass frequency range.

As a dedicated movie subwoofer there are better options. Since the PV1 is a sealed subwoofer, it's unable to deliver the same volume and expansive, reverberating sound as a ported unit. The result is that while it certainly adds to the experience of watching an action movie, it doesn't provide a room-filling amount of audio.

If you love your music and want a subwoofer that adds another dimension to most music, the PV1 is a compelling option. Just don't expect it to do an equally good job for the latest Hollywood blockbuster.

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