Mini the Minx

Adrian Justins experienced the bite of this tiny terrier 5.1 sub/sat system

At first glance, the Minx looks no more remarkable than the speakers you get with an all-in-one home cinema system made by various Korean or Japanese mass market brands. But we need to look West rather than East in seeking a comparison: think Bose rather than Sony or LG and you get the idea.

Cambridge Audio reckons that Minx ‘completely rewrites the rulebook of what’s possible from miniature speakers’.

Build quality bodes well, with extractable banana sockets and a high-gloss lacquer finish applied to dinky little cabinets that are engineered from acoustically damped thermo polymer and extruded aluminium. Peeling off the grilles reveals a surprise: instead of domes and tweeters there are perfectly flat discs with rubber surrounds. Each driver has a hybrid flat-panel radiator mounted on a conventional rubber surround.

Here is Minx’s unique selling point: its use of Balanced Mode Radiator (BMR) technology. These full range drivers – reaching the 20kHz limit of human hearing – use NXT-style ‘bending wave’ principles for higher frequencies and conventional pistonic driver movement for lower ones. According to CA, this results in a wider frequency response than similarly styled speakers with deeper and more powerful bass, plus broader sound dispersion.

The company is certainly playing the lifestyle card here, and as well as black and white lacquer finishes, there are options for mounting, comprising the basic supplied wall bracket, a £15 pedestal stand and £80 floorstands.

The Minx lineup comes in three 5.1 permutations, ranging from the Min 215 with single-driver satellites combined with a 200W subwoofer; or the twin-driver satellites hitched to their 300W sub and, finally, the same sats in tow with a 500W sub. My sample, the S325, uses the twin-dirver sats and the 300W woofer.

The sub looks classy and resplendent in gloss black and sits on solid rubberised feet. Like the sats, it takes an unconventional approach; behind a removable nylon grille is a forward-firing driver which combines with an downward-firing Auxiliary Bass Radiator (ABR). A bespoke DSP has been implemented to help deliver superior efficiency and enable a much smaller footprint than would normally be expected to deliver a claimed frequency response as low as 33Hz.

The rear panel offers control of gain, phase and crossover frequency and includes a line-out socket for adding a second sub. There’s also a handy signal detection feature and a wireless port for removing the LFE input cable at some future stage.

Blow the doors off

Fired up, it soon becomes apparent that the Minx is indeed a remarkable system, but not an unqualified success. The sub is an extraordinary beast, like a kitten with the lungs of a lion. In the first chapter of There Will Be Blood on Blu-ray, Daniel Day-Lewis sets off an explosion that blew the grille off the sub. My fault for not fixing it tightly enough, but on a second serving I watched in amazement as my plasterboard walls reverberated. As the beautifully scored soundtrack reaches a crescendo you really feel the drama of the scene’s climax is enhanced, as the bass seals the sense of excitement and fulfillment. Likewise, when The Thing shouts ‘fine‘ on the Brooklyn Bridge in the Fantastic Four’s DTS-HD soundtrack. I had my shirt pressed back into my chest.

As the truck exploded, the subwoofer gently flexed its LFE muscle and the room boomed in a purposeful, yet controlled, way. But what of the satellites?

They certainly seem to fill the room, exhibiting much more power than you’d expect and achieving that broad sound dispersion, but they do have an obvious flaw, which is that mid-to-higher frequencies tend to lack subtlety, while dialogue sounds cold and shrill as if it has come from a primitive, unrefined digital amplifier. Bigger noises, such as the fire engine crash in the Fantastic Four, screech an uncomfortable assault on the ears.

A quick spin of Jeff Buckley’s Real was a similar experience; the sub and sats filled the room effortlessly, but the vocals remained deeply unsatisfactory and felt unreal.

Gorgeous

The S325 is certainly a remarkable product. This system can fill a room with an impressively broad soundstage, the sub would be a truly compelling proposition as a standalone product, and the whole package looks gorgeous. It’s just a shame its upper frequency performances lacks refinement.


HCC VERDICT

Cambridge Audio Minx S325
Price:
£800 Approx

Highs: Classy finish; extraordinary power especially from the versatile sub; removable banana sockets
Lows: Shrill mid-to-high range frequencies; cold-sounding dialogue

Performance: 3/5
Design: 4/5
Features: 4/5
Overall: 4/5


Specifications

Min20 LCR and rears
Drive Units: 2 x 2.25in BMR cone drivers
Enclosure: Sealed
Frequency Response: 130Hz-20kHz
Sensitivity: 87dB (2.83Vrms)
Power Handling: 15-75W
Dimensions: 78(w) x 154(h) x 85(d)mm
Weight: 0.75kg

Minx X300 subwoofer
Drive Unit: 1 x 8in aluminium cone driver subwoofer; 1 x 8in aluminium cone driver passive radiator
Enclosure: Sealed
Frequency Response: 33Hz-200Hz
On board power: 300W RMS digital amp
Dimensions: 266(w) x 311(h) x 278(d)mm
Weight: 7.5kg