Review: Cambridge Audio Minx Air 200 and Minx Go Wireless Speakers Page 3

Minx Go ($149)

With the Go, Cambridge has put itself into the burgeoning portable Bluetooth arena. While the Go is actually a sizable unit in this context - it's more a luggable little boombox than a constant companion, meant to be classed with (and, of course, to compete with) the Bose Soundlink/SoundDock series or more recent contenders like the Nyne NB-250 than the ultra-portable, near-pocketable FoxL, Jambox, or Braven micro-mini systems.

It's easy as pie to setup; even the most jet lagged traveler should have no difficulty cuing up some favorites on arrival. Putting the little Minx into Bluetooth pairing mode is a matter of a simple double tap on the power button (the controls here are very minimal). My Samsung phone and iMac found the device instantaneously and the Go was up and running seconds later. Slickly handled. Like the various models in the Braven lineup, the Go includes a USB A port around back; this doesn't let you stream any sort of data but does let you use the Go as a 5 volt, 500 mA power supply for charging your smartphone, underscoring the device's travel friendliness. One less device to pack. A little fold-out foot keeps the Go stable on any flattish surface.

While the Go is small and light, it isn't, strictly speaking, tiny enough to squeeze into an overstuffed bag. So is it worth making room for? The payoff with a slightly bigger system, of course, is (potentially) bigger sound, and there the Go does not disappoint. 

On David Bowie's "Looking for Satellites" from Earthling. Gail Ann Dorsey's grinding bassline is delivered very impressively for something this minuscule in physical size; sure, if you listen closely you'll realize that the Go isn't actually kicking out the fundamental, but  that passive radiator moves a ton of air and provides plenty of realistic low-end girth - the kind of bass response you simply wouldn't expect from a battery-powered portable. Meanwhile vocals sound smooth, guitars and synths have plenty of presence. The effect is very natural overall and reminds me a lot of its bigger brother.

Wanting something with a little more naturalistic instrumentation I turned again to Miles Davis, though this time to In A Silent Way. The instrumental tones of the first side's "Shhh/Peaceful" are impressively reproduced; the overall mix is comprehensible (if a bit more bass-forward than Miles and Teo may have intended) and the sonics overall impress - this thing sounds really nice for a portable BT device - albeit one that's a bit too big to hang from a belt loop or stick in a pocket. Makes me think that this is the perfect companion for those making extended stays who still want to travel relatively light; or perhaps for a picnic or backyard/'round the house/office use.

The Go can rock out too. On "You Know You're a Man" (from Captain Beefheart's Shiny Beast Bat Chain Puller) the Go does a great job of reproducing the full spectrum even at relatively low listening levels, including Don Van Vliet's wide ranging vocal and the heavy, grooving primary baseline. while the slide solo has plenty of presence. 

You'd expect a little device like this to do OK providing office ambience; in my largish office space (don't get excited, it's shared with a whole bunch of other folks), it does a fine job articulating Andras Schiff's reading of Bach's Wohltemperierte Clavier (from last year's excellent ECM release; listened to in this case as 24/96 FLAC on the Mac via Decibel - and then over Bluetooth). Piano tone is well balanced and reasonably natural, if (understandably) the size of the device is readily apparent on playback. Still, there's enough of the ambience of the recording still perceptible that it's a very enjoyable listen - the Go is not a critical listening system by any stretch of the imagination, but it does not disappoint. And you can take it wherever you go.

The Minx App

If you think you've heard this one before, you may be right - the Minx app (for iOS and Android devices) bears a distinct family relationship to the Radio tab of the Stream Magic app you might have used with Cambridge's other streamers, though in a new Minx-specific wrapper. It provides access to internet radio services, along with more control over the device's EQ than you'll find onboard the 200 itself, with 10 otherwise unavailable enhancement presets available (via a slider, oddly enough - I'd rather have seen a list of choices, or perhaps a configurable EQ, but the offerings seem reasonable enough) if you're into that sort of thing. 

The app gets you started with 10 stations preset (you can replace these with stations of your choice, of course. A shortcut to the Shazam music identification is a nice touch if you're not quite sure what you're listening to (though if your tastes run to the seriously obscure - and the wide world of internet radio can take you into some strange territory - you might not have much luck). Not into radio at all? The Minx app also gives you convenient shortcut to your mobile device's music player.

Sadly the Minx app doesn't work with the little Go, which doesn't offer an onboard internet tuner. But it's quite a nice interface for Web radio listening if you use the Wi-Fi connected Minx Air 200 or 100 - and well worth your time to download. And hey…it's free!