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Computerized Investing > October 19, 2013
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by Wayne A. Thorp, CFA

$149

Portable high-fidelity Bluetooth speaker with built-in battery.

Back in July I reviewed the Cambridge Audio Minx Air 200 wireless speaker system. I walked away with mixed emotions. While it delivered solid sound performance, I was expecting more from a $600 speaker. Furthermore, the confusing setup and buggy Bluetooth connectivity had me suggesting to readers they look elsewhere for a high-end wireless speaker. This time around, Cambridge is back with a portable version of the Minx: the Minx Go. Over the last several months I have reviewed a number of Bluetooth speakers, and I was curious how Cambridge fit into the crowded mix.

Out of the Box & Setup

The Minx Go is merely a shrunk-down version of the Minx Air line. This means that its design is a bit uninspiring compared to some of the interesting designs I’ve come across. However, I came to appreciate this as I settled on using the speaker in my condo’s living room. At 9.3 inches by 4.8 inches by 2.4 inches, the Minx Go is definitely larger than most of the Bluetooth speakers I’ve reviewed here, including one of the more recognizable entrants in the category, the Jawbone Jambox. At 2.4 pounds it weighs more than three times that of the Jambox, but the Minx Go is still portable enough to move it around the house or use it on the deck or patio.

The Go comes in glossy white or black, though its plastic shell is a bit of a fingerprint magnet. If you are going to be using it as a portable speaker, keep a cloth handy to wipe it down every once in a while. Even though the Minx Go is made of plastic, is still has a sturdy feel to it. There is a solid mesh on the front of the speaker to protect the twin two-inch woofers and titanium dome tweeters.

Unlike the Minx Air 200 and its collection of myriad buttons on the top, the Go has a more straightforward design, making the overall user experience much more enjoyable. On the top of the Go are only three buttons—the power/pairing button and volume up and down buttons. To pair the speaker with your Bluetooth device, make sure your mobile device’s Bluetooth radio is activated and then double-press the Go’s power button to put it in pairing mode. Once your mobile device recognizes the Minx Go from the list of available Bluetooth devices, select it to finish the pairing process. The Minx Go will remember the last eight devices it has paired with so you won’t have to repeat the pairing process again.

Similar to what I experienced with the Minx Air 200, my iPhone would occasionally drop connection with the Minx Go, even when within 15 or 20 feet. Seeing that I haven’t experienced this with other speakers, I wonder if this is an issue with Cambridge Bluetooth connectivity.

If you want to connect the Go to a non-Bluetooth device, it also has a 3.5mm aux input jack, along with USB and AC charging ports. The USB charging port is a nice option, as it allows you to charge an additional USB device. However, unlike some other speakers I’ve reviewed that charge devices while running on battery, the Go’s USB port will only charge when the speaker is plugged into an outlet.

On the back of the speaker is also an active bass radiator for the bass output and a kickstand that offers additional stability for the speaker.

Sound Quality

Sound quality is an important factor when considering a portable speaker system. I have reviewed several speakers and the sound quality varies greatly. Cambridge has established itself as a maker of high-quality audio components, so one should expect a bit more from their products. I was a bit disappointed with the Minx 200’s sound quality, given its price tag. However, I was more than pleased with what I heard from the Minx Go. For such a relatively small speaker, the Go was more than enough speaker for my condo’s living room, thanks to the Class-D amplifier and digital signal processing (DSP). Because the speaker is bigger than its competition, it can deliver comparably fuller and more robust sound as well as deeper bass. The speaker did an excellent job across the full range of sounds and the bass was surprisingly forceful without being overpowering or muddy. After listening to the Minx Go for several weeks, Cambridge has proven that it’s possible to produce a wallet-friendly speaker without sacrificing good audio quality.

That is not to say that the Minx Go is flawless. At high volumes there was some sound distortion. Furthermore, the Go’s speaker setup makes it somewhat one-directional. This means to you have to aim the speaker in the direction where you want the most optimal sound. Also, when listening to high-bass music, the speaker has a tendency to dance or move along the surface. I ended up putting it on a non-slip mat on my bookcase to prevent it from falling off.

Interestingly, Cambridge does not publish frequency delivery rates for the Minx Go.

Battery Life

Apart from its impressive sound quality, the Minx Go’s battery life separates it from its other portable competitors. Cambridge claims that its Li-ion battery will deliver 18 hours of continuous playback between charges. The speaker’s larger size allows for a larger battery; by comparison, the Jawbone Jambox is rated to deliver up to 10 hours of playback. To conserve battery life, the Minx Go will automatically power down after 30 minutes of inactivity. Once the battery is fully drained, it takes a few hours to top it off again.

Overall

After my experience with the Minx Air 200, I was tempering my expectations with the Minx Go. After using it for a few weeks, I am happy to say that this speaker more than holds its own in the crowded Bluetooth speaker arena. First off, setup is a breeze. The only issue I had was the intermittent Bluetooth connectivity issues, but they always resolved themselves and only resulted in a brief disruption of playback.

Second, and probably most important, is the impressive sound quality. For a speaker of its size, the Minx Go is really unrivaled when it comes to its audio performance. I was very pleased with its room-filling sound from such a small package. While there is some distortion at high levels, lowering the volume corrected the problem without negatively impacting its reach.

Finally, there is the battery life. At 18 hours, the Minx Go truly is unrivaled. This, matched with its portability, make the Minx Go a perfect speaker to move around the house or take with you to the deck or patio. If portability is your primary concern, you may be better off with a speaker such as the Jawbone Jambox.

At $149, the Cambridge Audio Minx Go portable audio system offers an unprecedented mix of portability, audio performance, battery life and value that should put it at the top of your list if you are looking for a Bluetooth speaker system.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Clean design
  • Tremendous battery life
  • Great value

Cons

  • Some sound distortion at high volume
  • Intermittent Bluetooth connectivity issues
  • Speaker “dances” when listening to high-bass music

Cambridge Audio Minx Go Bluetooth speaker

$149 (Currently $149 from Amazon.com)

Wayne A. Thorp, CFA is a vice president and senior financial analyst at AAII and editor of Computerized Investing. Follow him on Twitter at @WayneTAAII.


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