Cambridge Audio Minx Air 200 Wireless Speaker Review

Cambridge Audio get saucy with the Minx Air 200

SRP: £429.95

Introduction

The audio dock has changed quite a bit in the last few years and, in doing so, has morphed into a completely new product. In fact the 'dock' itself has largely gone the way of the dodo as we move into a wireless world and the idea of physically connecting a device seems almost antiquated. These days we stream everything and in recognition of this the audio dock has evolved into the wireless speaker. The idea's the same, you listen to music from your mobile device but instead of connecting it physically, you do it via the ether. This wireless connection takes a number of forms form various proprietary WiFi connections to Bluetooth and Apple's AirPlay. Cambridge Audio have launched a concerted assault on this growing market with their new range of Minx Air wireless speakers. The Minx Air 200, which we have in for review, boasts some impressive features including AirPlay and Bluetooth capability, a dedicated remote app and a beefy 200W amplifier. So let's see if the Minx lives up to its saucy name...

Design

As wireless speakers go the Minx Air 200 has a sizeable footprint, measuring 45 x 22 x 17.4cm and weighing a hefty 5.1kg. So if you're looking for something more portable you might want to consider its smaller brother the Minx Air 100. However, for those looking for something a little more permanent, perhaps in a study, kitchen or bedroom, then the Minx Air 200 should fit the bill nicely. Its build quality is excellent, with a solid and well engineered construction that goes a long way to justifying the price tag. The white lacquered, scratch-resistent cabinet includes a grey speaker grille and some soft-touch controls along the top. These controls include on/off, volume, Bluetooth pairing and an X which will stop wireless streaming and activate the analogue inputs. A second press of this button will also mute the audio.

Cambridge Audio Minx Air 200

There are also buttons for the first five radio presets, although since there are ten in total, to access the other five you'll have to use the controller or the remote app. At the rear are the connections, along with a hidden carry handle that doubles as bass port to add depth to the lower frequencies. The overall design has an elegant simplicity with a contoured shape that provides a discreet look whilst maximising the sonic capabilities. The '200' in the name Minx Air 200 relates to the power output of the speaker's built-in amplification, which is rated at 200W. The amplifier drives two 6cm balanced mode radiator (BMR) drivers and a 16.5cm subwoofer hidden inside the cabinet.

Cambridge Audio Minx Air 200

Whilst the majority of people will be using the wireless capabilities of the Minx Air 200, Cambridge Audio have also catered for the Luddites amongst us. At the rear you will find a 3.5mm jack for physically connecting just about any audio source, along with analogue stereo RCA inputs and an Ethernet port. There's also mini-USB connector for service, a WPS button, a bass control and a two-pin socket for the provided power cable.

Given the excellent build quality of the Minx Air 200 itself, the provided remote control is a bit of a let down. It's quite small and fiddly, making it difficult to hold and easy to lose. It's a simple plastic controller with pimple style buttons that have to be pressed quite hard and it provides basic control, including on/off, volume and bass adjustment and selecting the radio presets. There was a slight delay between pressing the remote and the Minx Air 200 responding but at least you can select all ten of the presets, along with the Bluetooth button, X button and a dedicated mute button. We found that since we were exclusively streaming music from another device, it made more sense to just use the Minx Air app and perhaps that explains he remote controls shortcomings.

Setup

There are a number of ways of setting up the Minx Air 200, depending on your needs but whichever approach you took, it was generally quite straightforward. It's also good to see both AirPlay and Bluetooth in the same unit, as manufacturers have a tendency to favour one or the other. The inclusion of Bluetooth allows the Minx Air 200 to connect to a multitude of devices, from phones and tablets through to computers. So as long as your device is within range – up to 10m - wireless high-quality audio streaming is easy. As well as the Standard Bluetooth Codec (SBC), Minx Air supports both apt-X and AAC which means you can get the best possible results from your Bluetooth device. Although pairing the Minx Air 200 was simple enough, once your phone disconnects from the Bluetooth, you need to press the Bluetooth connection button again. We're not sure why this was necessary but it was a nuisance and made us glad we use Apple devices so much.

Which brings us on to the other method of connecting wirelessly to the Minx Air 200 - Apple's AirPlay. If you have an iPod, iPhone or iPad, then this is the method you should be using because, like all things Apple, it is simple, effective and robust. Once you have connected the Minx Air 200 to your wireless router the speaker will appear on your iOS device under the AirPlay icon. Then you'll be able to stream from your iOS device or any computer on the same network with iTunes. We used AirPlay and Apple Lossless files for the majority of our listening tests. Finally if you would prefer to go old school, then there's the RCA and 3.5mm jacks which will allow you to connect just about any device - MP3 player, TV, computer, etc. - to the Minx Air 200.

Cambridge Audio Minx Air 200
Cambridge Audio Minx Air 200

As part of the setup process, you connect to the Minx Air 200’s own wireless network by typing the supplied IP address into your web browser, opening the setup page, selecting your home network and entering the password. Once a device is connected to the Minx Air 200 via AirPlay it remains connected and when another audio application is started it will automatically be heard and the previous one muted. As a result of the wireless connection, not only can you stream audio to the Minx Air 200 but also listen to services such as Spotify, BBC iPlayer Radio and Last.fm. The Minx Air 200 also includes an Internet radio, allowing the user access to 20,000 stations from around the world.

Since the Internet radio is built-in, you can enjoy your favourite stations instantly with just a simple press of a preset button. You can also discover new stations from around the world in seconds by using the Minx Air app on your phone or tablet, search by genre or location. There are ten presets available on your app and these are automatically copied across to Minx Air apps on your other phones or tablets. However, more advanced functions are also available from the Minx Air app, which is freely available for Apple and Android phones and tablets. The app shows which source you’re currently using, allows you to listen to music from your library, select radio stations and adjust the bass levels and equalizer settings. Overall the app looked good and worked well, especially when listening to the radio stations but it was just as easy to use the music controls in your smart device.

Audio performance

If you've ever thought that a wireless speaker could offer convenience but wouldn't be able to cut it as a serious method of listening to music - think again. The Minx Air 200 delivers an absolutely fantastic performance, with a surprisingly wide and open soundstage from a stereo speaker that, despite its relative size, uses a single cabinet. There is real power and scale to the sound produced by this speaker system and as result it can easily fill even a relatively large room, making it more capable when used in a kitchen, bedroom or study. As a result the Minx Air 200 can go extremely loud without sounding strained or distorted or ever losing control. In fact it ranks as one of the loudest wireless speakers we have ever reviewed, with a dynamic performance and plenty of headroom. One of the usual problems with wireless speakers is that the single cabinet minimises the amount of stereo separation but despite this the Minx Air 200 was capable of delivering an excellent sense of stereo effect.

Cambridge Audio Minx Air 200

The reasonably large dimensions of the cabinet and the speaker's solid construction certainly paid dividends when it came to the bass performance. There was real weight to the low-end and it gave an underlying power to the overall sound of the Minx Air 200. The lower frequencies were well rendered without becoming boomy or swamping the mid-range, which retained plenty of detail. There is a bass control at the rear, which we left at the centre setting as that seemed to offer the most controlled bass performance. We found that, unlike some other wireless speakers, correct positioning the Minx Air 200 was important and it was best to avoid placing it in a corner or too close to a wall. Incorrect positioning could result in the bass over-power the rest of the sound but with just a few minutes of careful thought, the Minx Air 200 can reward you with an wonderfully expansive and powerful soundstage. In fact at times we forget we were using a single cabinet wireless speaker, so big and open was the sound.

In testing we found that the Minx Air 200 was a great all-round performer, lending itself to a diverse range of music. The simple melody of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass was beautifully rendered, whilst the Minx Air 200 had no troubles with the heavier rhythm and gravely vocals on Nick Cave's O Children. The vocals on John Grant's GMF were delivered with a lovely sense of detail in the low- and mid-range. However, the Minx Air 200 also handled the higher frequencies well, never sounding bright or harsh. On tracks heavy with female vocals, pianos and strings like Kate Bush's This Woman's Work or Adele's Skyfall the Minx Air 200 proved itself to be an adept and enthusiastic performer. When listening to The Waterboys live version of Savage Earth Heart at an unsociable volume (the joys of living in the middle of nowhere), the Minx Air 200 filled the room with such exuberance that we began to forget we weren't actually at the gig. We tried switching between AirPlay and Bluetooth and couldn't hear any real difference but we definitely preferred the simplicity and robust nature of AirPlay. However the great thing is that you have the choice and overall we found the Minx Air 200 to be one of the most capable and enjoyable wireless speakers that we have reviewed to date.

Verdict

8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

Pros

  • Powerful and involving sound
  • Surprisingly wide soundstage
  • Impressive wireless capabilities
  • Excellent build quality
  • Flexible setup

Cons

  • Sizeable footprint
  • Remote is tiny
  • Price

Cambridge Audio Minx Air 200 Wireless Speaker Review

The Cambridge Audio Minx Air 200 is an attractive and well built wireless speaker with a reasonably large cabinet. Whilst this precludes the Minx Air 200 from really portable, it does pay dividends in terms of its audio performance. The Minx Air 200 has some basic controls at the top, along with analogue inputs and an Ethernet port for those that would rather use a physical connection. For most people though, the main reason for buying the Minx Air 200 is to take advantage of its wireless features and in this sense it is very capable. The Minx Air 200 has both Bluetooth and AirPlay, which means you can connect just about any device you care to think about. Setup is straightforward and once connected to your wireless router the Minx Air 200 also has a built-in Internet radio. There is a small remote provided but for more effective control try the Minx Air app which is freely available for both iOS and Android devices.

The Minx Air 200 proved to be a genuine surprise package when it came to its audio performance, delivering the kind of open soundstage we didn't think possible from a wireless speaker. Usually the single cabinet design restricts the amount of stereo separation but with the Minx Air 200 we found a wide and energetic soundfield. The overall performance was both lively and detailed and the Minx Air 200 was also capable of going very loud without distorting or losing focus, so it can handle a large room. Perhaps thanks to the larger cabinet and solid build, the bass was also excellent, supporting the Minx Air 200's audio performance with a powerful undercurrent that gave music more dynamic impact. Whilst not cheap, the Cambridge Audio Minx Air 200 was a fantastic performer that seemed able to lend itself to whichever type of music we tried, resulting in a hugely enjoyable experience. If you're in the market for a flexible and capable wireless speaker, the saucy Minx Air 200 should definitely be on your list.

Highly Recommended

Scores

Sound Quality

.
9

Build Quality

.
9

Verdict

.
.
8

Value For Money

.
.
.
7
8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

Our Review Ethos

Read about our review ethos and the meaning of our review badges.

To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.

Related Content

Klipsch Reference Premiere 5.1.2 Speaker Package Review
  • By Steve Withers
  • Published
Monitor Audio Monitor 5.1 Speaker Package Review
  • By Steve Withers
  • Published
Bowers & Wilkins 600 Series 5.1 Speaker Package Review
  • By Steve Withers
  • Published
Elipson Prestige Facet 7.2.4 Speaker Package Review
  • By Steve Withers
  • Published

Latest Headlines

AVForums Podcast: 14th October 2019
  • By Phil Hinton
  • Published
McIntosh announces MX170 and MX123 AV processors and MC255 amplifier
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Canton DM76 and DM101 soundbases now available in UK
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Sonos trials Flex speaker subscription service
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
AVForums Podcast: 7th October - Nanosys Quantum Dots
  • By Phil Hinton
  • Published
Top Bottom