Audio Equipment Review: Cambridge Audio Minx Air 200, Great Sound in a Small Package

I’d long wanted a compact audio device in my bedroom. I don’t care as much about having perfect stereo separation when I’m listening to music in bed, nor does it matter if the sound is as good as it is on my office or living room systems. With this in mind, I’ve tried out a couple of devices, and found the Cambridge Audio Minx Air 200, which offers great sound and easy-to-use functionality.

2014-04-24 15.13.47.jpg

I wish I knew how Cambridge Audio packed such great sound into their Minx Air 200 (Amazon.com, Amazon UK). This 18-inch, or 450mm, wide device, which stands easily on a bookcase or shelf, sounds almost as good as a full-sized stereo. Listing at $600, or £350 (the current Amazon.com price is around $500; you won’t find discounts in the UK though), I can’t think of a better way to listen to music when you don’t have room for an amp and speakers.

The Minx Air 200 is part of Cambridge Audio’s broader Minx product line. There is also a smaller Minx Air 100, and a portable Minx Go, all of which offer wireless playback. The Minx Air devices let you stream music via AirPlay or Bluetooth, and the Minx Go only Bluetooth.

The Minx Air has an impressive feature set. With a class-D amplifier, providing 200 watts to a pair of 57mm balanced mode radiator drivers and a 165mm subwoofer. It has a rich sound, with strong bass that you can adjust using a knob on the back of the device, or from the company’s Minx app. It supports AirPlay and Bluetooth atpX, and has an Ethernet jack, so you can run music to it over a wired network, if you wish. It has a 3.5 mm jack and a pair of RCA jacks on the back, so you can even connect it to a TV or portable music player.

minx-air-200-rear-1355309327.jpg

The Minx Air also offers access to internet radio stations. I haven’t used that much, but you can store a number of presets and access them from the Minx Air app, or control with the buttons on the device, or its tiny remote. You can also, of course, stream anything from an iOS device, or other device that supports AirPlay or Bluetooth. The Minx Air app also lets you adjust the device’s bass and apply EQ, if you wish. (I found the app to be somewhat persnickety; it often wouldn’t connect to the device, and I had to re-select it.)

Soundwise, I am very impressed by the quality and clarity of the Minx Air 200. While my office and living room stereos are better, nothing I threw at the Minx Air 200 sounded bad. From acoustic Bob Dylan to electric Miles Davis; from Public Image Limited, with its bass-heavy grooves to Bill Evans’ piano trios; from string quartets to solo piano. Everything sounds great. There is a feeling of thinness to the music, compared to a full-sized stereo, but it’s just a slight impression, due to the smaller speakers. Even at full volume – louder than I’ll ever play it – the Minx Air 200 sounds great.

Unlike many devices of this type, it’s stereo. Compared to the mono Sonos Play:5, which is the same price, but a few inches narrower (and which requires a Sonos system), the Minx Air 200 has much more presence. Naturally, the lack of stereo separation, with speakers so close together, is evident, but the shape of the Minx Air devices – slightly curved – sends the sounds from each speaker slightly to the side, providing an excellent stereo soundscape.

One thing that doesn’t work, which I would have liked, is streaming audio from an iPad when watching videos. In other words, if I were watching, say, a movie streamed from Netflix, I’d like to stream the audio via AirPlay to the Minx Air. The audio is streamed, but there’s a delay. It’s possible to do this with the VLC iOS app, which allows you to set the audio delay, but not apparently with others, such as Netflix or Apple’s Videos app. This isn’t a limitation of the Minx Air; it’s a problem with AirPlay itself.

You may not want to spend this much on a wireless speaker, but it sounds great. If you want good sound in a small space, check out the Minx Air. It sounds better than I expected a speaker of this type could sound.