Cambridge Audio Minx Go review

The Cambridge Audio Minx Go is an attractive, loud, portable Bluetooth speaker that suffers from a handful of issues that hold its sound quality back.

Cambridge Audio continues to expand its wireless speaker line with the Minx Go, the company’s first Bluetooth speaker that hits the vital sub-$200 range. Unlike the AirPlay-and-Bluetooth-equipped Minx Air 100 and Minx Air 200, the Minx Go is Bluetooth-only and retails for just $149 (direct), a third of the price of the Minx Air 100. That price leads to some big compromises, though, as the speaker suffers from audible Bluetooth artifacts and bass rattling that leaves it behind comparable speakers like the Logitech UE Boom or the Editors’ Choice Bose SoundLink II.

Design
The Minx Go’s profile is wide and flat, shaped like Cambridge Audio’s Minx Air speakers. The speaker measures 4.8 by 9.3 by 2.4 inches (HWD), weighs a relatively hefty (for a portable Bluetooth speaker) 2.4 pounds, and is gently curved on its face, with a metal grille boasting the Cambridge Audio logo. The glossy body of the speaker holds Power and Volume Up/Down buttons on the top, but otherwise looks smooth and clean. The speaker’s few ports (USB, 3.5mm, and power) and its covered radiator sit on the back, hidden unless you look for it. While the speaker is a little too thin to securely stand up on its own, a swivel-out foot on the rubberized base makes it shake-free and stable on any flat surface.

As a Bluetooth speaker, the Minx Go automatically goes into Bluetooth pairing mode when you turn it on for the first time, and you can put it in pairing mode again by pressing the power button twice. The process was extremely fast and easy, with the usual handy audio cues and a flashing-to-solid light on the power button to indicate when my Samsung Galaxy S III was paired. There is no input button, so the speaker simply prioritizes Bluetooth playback over the 3.5mm audio jack. If you want to use it as a wired speaker, just make sure your Bluetooth device isn’t streaming before you play from your wired device.

Performance
The Minx Go gets pleasantly loud, but it can’t quite reach the volume levels of the smaller Logitech UE Boom. Its balance feels slightly off as well, with treble and bass response both sounding weak against a strong, almost overpowering midrange. In both Daft Punk’s synth-heavy “Aerodynamic” and Red Fang’s grungy, distorted “Wires,” either extreme in the audio spectrum seemed to suffer. “Aerodynamic’s” plinky, electronic melody faded against overpowering drums, and “Wires’” already under-mixed vocals were almost completely swallowed up by guitar riffs. This strong midrange can be good for listening to rock, classical, and jazz, but any music with particularly heavy bass or subtle high end material loses clarity and power at higher volumes.

Our pure bass test track, The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” fared poorly, but not for the usual reasons. The speaker handled the sub-bass synth notes with very little distortion, only popping slightly at maximum volume. However, the power of the bass rattled the speaker’s case and made the swiveling foot vibrate, which caused an unpleasant buzzing sound that hurt the track.

I tested the Minx Go with my Samsung Galaxy S III and a Google Nexus 4, and I noticed varying levels of Bluetooth artifacts on both when playing music wirelessly. Sound streamed through my Galaxy S III got a distinctly hollow artifact effect to it, and the Nexus 4 developed a slight roughness in the audio it didn’t exhibit with a wired connection.

The Cambridge Audio Minx Go is a respectable, affordable Bluetooth speaker, but if you’re willing to spend $50 more, you can find a much better alternative in the Logitech UE Boom. The Minx Go’s battery is big and its drivers put out plenty of volume, but its uneven frequency response and prone-to-buzzing build make it fall flat against Logitech’s $200 beer can speaker.

Specifications
Channels 2.1
Wireless Remote Control No
Separate subwoofer No
AirPlay No
Type Wireless
Physical Dock No
Bluetooth Yes

Verdict
The Cambridge Audio Minx Go is an attractive, loud, portable Bluetooth speaker that suffers from a handful of issues that hold its sound quality back.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc