Powerful speaker emits great sound, but misses the mark on the finer details (July 14th, 2014)
Product Manufacturer: Cambridge Audio
- Auto shut-off for battery conservation
- Battery life
- Sound quality
- Battery indicator on back of device
- Lack of track controls
- No charging devices off battery
In the pursuit of outstanding sound quality, Bluetooth speakers make a lot of sacrifices to offer a device that is affordable and pleasant enough to listen to compel consumers to purchase it. It's a series of compromises between the number of speakers in the platform, the battery life and the portability of the unit. Cambridge Audio, the London-based audio company, offers a compact version of its sound quality inside the Minx Go. On the surface, the Minx Go appears to check all of the boxes that a Bluetooth speaker needs to in order to be successful. But does that make it a must-have for consumers?
Cambridge Audio's Minx Go speaker a little larger and heavier than most travel-oriented Bluetooth speakers. At 2.4 pounds, it's more than some might like to lug around in an everyday bag. Dimensions of the speaker measure 9.3 x 4.8 x 2.4 inches, making it larger than most paperback books. Cambridge Audio offers the aluminum and plastic-constructed speaker in white and black options.
Controls on the Minx Go are a little odd, considering there are only three buttons. In the center is a power button, which also doubles in function for Bluetooth pairing. Double pressing the button allows for a second device to be paired to the speaker. The two remaining buttons are configured with one on each side of the power button for volume control. What's notably missing is a way to control tracks from the speaker itself. The design is similar to what the Fugoo speaker we recently reviewed offers, but a combination of presses cannot advance or reverse tracks in this case.
Battery life for the Minx Go is exceptional when compared to most Bluetooth speakers. Cambridge Audio states that the speaker can be expected to hit 18 hours on a single charge. Running with higher levels of volume weren't able to reach this mark, but over the course of three days, approximately 15 hours was achieved with 50 percent or higher volume. Charging time was observed to be about 4.25 hours when charged through its power adapter.
Unfortunately, the device cannot be charged via USB, even though it has a USB port on the back. The intent of the port is to allow the charging of other devices, but it comes with a catch. Devices cannot charge directly off of the battery. Instead, the Minx Go must be plugged into its power adapter before any power is drawn. Considering the large battery that the Minx has, it doesn't make a lot of sense that power can't be syphoned off of it. However, when the focus of the device is only on sound, this makes sense. The Minx Go doesn't include speaker phone phone functionality, either.
When it comes to the battery, there is also another small issue in the design. Rather than have a visible or audible battery indicator, the Minx Go contains a single LED. While this would be sufficient for a Bluetooth speaker, the issue with it is that it's placed on the back of the unit. The LED only lights up when it's charging or blinking red to indicate it needs a charge.
If the speaker is positioned in a way that LED isn't seen or easily accessible, the only way for a user to know is when the speaker turns off and transitions to a standby mode. Without being plugged in while the LED is flashing, the Minx Go shuts off after 30 minutes. When no sound is coming from the speaker for 30 minutes during normal operation, the speaker turns itself off in order to conserve battery.
Sound from the Minx Go is perhaps some of the best that we've tested in a small form, battery operated speaker. The Minx Go pounds with bass, due to the large radiator on the back of the device. When cranking the volume up, the radiator flex is clearly seen as the back of the speaker pumps with the beat. Speakers inside of the unit consist of a pair of 0.75-inch titanium tweeters and two woofers that are each two inches in diameter.
It isn't just the bass that excels, but the high notes as well. High-pitched vocal notes are clear without cutting out or being drowned out by the bass. Rather than leaning to one end of sound or the other, the Minx Go treats both highs and lows with respect instead of mixing them to drown out one or the other.
Testing volume ranges provided some issues when trying to get readings from a decibel meter. In the normal course of testing, speakers tend to show consistent drops at each of the 25-percent readings generally, losing a certain percentage from the maximum levels. The maximum volume level during testing phases was witnessed at levels of 100 and 75 percent at different times. Several testing runs were then completed to get an average that fell in line with expected speaker behavior. Ranges from 100 to 25 percent showed a range of four to eight percent drops, across each of the distances tested.
There's an issue when it comes to Bluetooth connectivity as well. While it can cover the 30 foot distance that Bluetooth is often limited to, any items in the path seem to cause lapses in the connection. This trait was witnessed several times when attempting to get reads on the decibel meter. Walking between the computer source and the device caused an interruption in the connection. Once the path became clear, the connection returned to normal. Even though this problem is only noticed with the Minx Go, the MacBook Pro it was connected could turn out to be the source of the problem as well.
The Minx Go by Cambridge Audio has a fantastic sound that is hard to replicate in portable Bluetooth speakers. From the hard-hitting bass and vocals that shine above the competition, it's hard to find reasons to hate it. However, there are some simple things that could make or break the Minx Go for consumers. Needing to have the speaker plugged into an electrical outlet to allow charging of other devices off the USB port, the lack of on-board track controls, and a battery indicator on the back of the device are fairly big oversights in its design. If those items can be set aside, then the $180 price tag is a good value for the battery life and sound quality the Minx Go achieves.