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| December 10, 2013
Cambridge Audio's Minx Go Is A Portable Wireless Speaker That's Almost Perfect
Company: Cambridge Audio Product: Minx Go Price: $149.00 Compatibility: All iDevices (using Bluetooth or a wired connection) Date: Dec. 10, 2013 There are a bunch of iDevice-compatible wireless speakers on the market which use Bluetooth, and sometimes even Apple's AirPlay, to play audio streamed from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Given that the free-to-access iTunes Radio is now available (in the United States, at least), there's no time like the present to invest in a decent, reliable, and portable wireless speaker. But which offers the best experience for your hard-earned cash? In the past, we've gone hands-on with the Philips ShoqBox SB7300, the BRAVEN 625s, and Pioneer’s A3 XW-SMA3, to name a few; we've got reviews of the BRAVEN 710 and Jawbone's Big JamBox lined up for the next few weeks, also. Today, however, we take a closer look at a Bluetooth speaker from Cambridge Audio's “Minx” line - a product series that we haven't been able to approach until now. More specifically, we're going to be looking at Minx Go: a portable, high-quality speaker that retails for $149, and which promises customers exceptional playback plus a super-long battery life of up to 18 hours on a single charge. Minx Go is less expensive than some competing products, for sure, but is it still worth spending $149 on the speaker? In this review, we find out.
The Product[caption id="attachment_495300" align="aligncenter" width="642"] Cambridge Audio's Minx Go.[/caption] Minx Go is the smallest, most portable wireless speaker in Cambridge Audio's Minx series, which also includes the higher-priced Minx Air 100 and Minx Air 200. It uses Bluetooth to connect wirelessly to a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer (there's also an auxiliary port for wired connections), and as mentioned, one particular selling-point of Minx Go is its impressive 18 hours of battery life. The difference in price between Cambridge Audio's three Minx speakers is big: Minx Go carries a price tag of $149, while Minx Air 100 (the smaller model) sees a jump of $300 up to $449; Minx Air 200, however, costs $599. Plus, for the sake of price comparison alone, even the least expensive Jawbone JamBox, the Mini JamBox, costs more than Minx Go at $179.99; the Big JamBox, on the other hand, carries an even bigger price tag of $299. This should give you an idea of where exactly Cambridge Audio's Minx Go is situated in the market, and the news is good for prospective customers; but is the speaker's lower price point indicative of inferior quality? Though the title of our review probably gives this away, it's important to state from the outset that the answer to this question is a firm “no.” Minx Go combines well-thought-out design with powerful hardware to offer users a truly impressive, highly usable, and surprisingly portable Bluetooth speaker. In fact, we couldn't be more impressed with the product; Minx Go is a charming little speaker that packs a powerful punch and only has one particular downside, but first, let's talk appearance. Minx Go is available in two different colors, black and white, and its dimensions are 9.3-inches by 4.8-inches by 2.4-inches; to put these dimensions into perspective, this makes the horizontal length of Minx Go roughly the same as the longest side of Apple's iPad Air, and as such, the speaker is incredibly portable. On its front, Minx Go exhibits a mesh-like material, complete with the “Cambridge Audio” logo at the base; atop the product are three buttons (volume up, volume down, and a third central button for powering the speaker on and off, for pausing music, and for initiating Bluetooth pairing). Further round at the back of Minx Go is a power port, a USB port, and an auxiliary port. There's also a slide-out stand, which can be used to secure the speaker. Powering the speaker on is as simple as holding down the aforementioned central key; a pleasant tone will let users know that Minx Go is ready to connect, and if you've already hooked the speaker up to a computer or mobile device, a subsequent tone will inform users that the auto-connect process has taken place successfully. If the speaker is searching for a connection, however, this central key will flash blue, and users can initiate a connection from their computer, smartphone, or tablet. On the other hand, if you're looking to initiate the Bluetooth pairing process, simply press the central button twice and Minx Go will be ready to hook up to a new host. Once connected, then, streaming music to Cambridge Audio's Minx Go is as simple as pressing a button on your computer or mobile device, and upon doing so you'll be confronted with the speaker's best aspect: the high quality of music playback. Because for a product so small, and for one that is so portable (the speaker will easily fit in a rucksack, backpack, or even a large handbag), Minx Go offers outstanding sound quality. This, as Cambridge Audio explains online, is made possible thanks to the product's five built-in speakers (there are two tweakers, twin woofers, and an Active Bass Radiator [ABR]) and the clever on-board technology Minx Go utilizes. [caption id="attachment_495296" align="aligncenter" width="642"] Minx Go's controls.[/caption] As outlined at the product's Web page, features of Cambridge Audio's speaker include:
This all means that streaming music to Minx Go, or playing music using a wired connection, is an enjoyable and satisying experience; you'll be hugely surprised at the quality of music playback, and prospective customers can rest assured that Cambridge Audio's product, though small, nevertheless packs a powerful punch indeed. The levels of bass, in particular, are superb. Once music is playing through the speaker, Minx Go's three physical buttons allow users to control music without having to use their host device; of course, the volume up and volume down keys do their job as advertised, and the central button can pause or play the present track (if you press it once, that is; there doesn't seem to be a way to switch tracks, however). For the past few weeks, I've been using Minx Go to listen to a whole range of content including music (using both the iOS Music app and Rdio), podcasts, and audio from Netflix (running in Safari for Mac), and in every respect the speaker has performed really well - provided, that is, that Minx Go is located rather near its host. You see, the one problem with Minx Go is connectivity. Because unlike Minx Air 100 and Minx Air 200, Minx Go doesn't feature support for Apple's AirPlay, and this comes with its share of limitations. First, this sometimes makes it difficult to switch between hosts and reestablish connections with pre-paired devices. Though it's possible to pair more than one Bluetooth-compatible device with Minx Go, switching between active devices can be a real hassle. More than a handful of times now I've actually had to tell my iPhone or iPad to “forget” Minx Go in the iDevice's Settings app, because the reconnection process has gone awry, and if you plan on using a number of host devices with the speaker (like your computer, smartphone, and tablet), this is worth bearing in mind. Second, the use of Bluetooth connectivity also means that users can't have their host device stray too far from Minx Go, otherwise audio playback will cease. Cambridge Audio advertises 10 meters of connectivity online, and this is fair; it's worth noting, however, that even a wall can severely impair your Bluetooth connection, limiting its range. If you're on the move either around the house or even outdoors with Minx Go, it's therefore best to pair-up with your iPhone and to keep the smartphone nearby the speaker, in order to ensure that the connection doesn't cease. As such, this leads to the natural conclusion that Minx Go would be a perfect product if it also supported Apple's AirPlay, and though workarounds can provide a similar solution, full-on support would be far better. It'd still be necessary to use Bluetooth when out of the house (since AirPlay streams over Wi-Fi), but support for Apple's protocol would make using Minx Go indoors all the more convenient and enjoyable. [caption id="attachment_495297" align="aligncenter" width="642"] Minx Go's ports.[/caption] Of course, it's worth noting that similar-priced wireless speakers all use Bluetooth, and in this respect, for the price Minx Go is nevertheless an outstanding offering. But even though the additional $300 is a lot of money to spend, it could be that the Minx Air 100 would be a far wiser investment if you're willing to sacrifice a degree of portability for AirPlay support. We're hoping to go hands-on with a Minx Air speaker in the forthcoming months, so check back with us on this front.
- 5 speaker array delivers ever note with precision and authority:
- 2 Titanium tweeters for exceptional crisp detail
- Twin 2” woofers for excellent stereo imaging
- Rear-mounted Active Bass Radiator (ABR) goes deep and low to help give the impression of a much bigger system
- A Powerful digital amplifier delivers expansive power from a system that’s small enough to hold in your hand
- Digital Signal Processing means for consistent performance, whatever you’re listening to, and however loud you’re listening. Unlike other portable systems, your music stays distortion-free, even at top volume
- On board Digital to Analogue converters squeeze maximum detail from your streamed music before it’s processed into the sounds you hear
- It looks great
- Sound quality is outstanding
- Super-long battery life
- It's ultra-portable
- The price is right
- Bluetooth can be troublesome