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Seven Portable Bluetooth Speaker Systems, Tested And Reviewed

Cambridge Audio Minx Go

Of the companies that sent in samples for our round-up, Cambridge Audio has perhaps the most impressive background when it comes to high-end equipment. Let's see if that pedigree carries over to its wireless audio hardware.

Bundle And First Impression

At $150 on Amazon, the Minx Go's price sits in the middle of our seven tested devices. This is right around where manufacturers stop assuming you'll be carrying your speaker around with you and start bundling AC adapters with their products. Unfortunately, the trade-off is that you're no longer able to charge the system over a USB connection. Other included accessories are fairly standard; you get a 3.5 mm male-to-male cable, a carrying case, and a manual in the package.

Cambridge sells its Minx Go in black or white, both with hard plastic cases and metallic mesh grilles. The build quality appears sturdy, though I'd worry about scratching the glossy finish. Also, the rear bass radiator's plastic covering is a bit flimsy. Again, I wouldn't want that component to break in a gym bag or backpack with other items.

This is the only speaker in our round-up with a deployable stand, which you can see below.

Two 3/4" tweeters and two 2" woofers work with a rear-firing passive radiator to serve up sound. The Minx Go is roughly twice as thick and high as the ultra-portables we looked at on the preceding pages. It's also about twice as heavy at 1089 grams (2.4 lbs). Measuring 4.8" x 9.3" x 2.4", you probably wouldn't want to carry it everywhere with you, though the speaker is small enough to tote around to a friend's house.

Connectivity And Controls

Wired connectivity is enabled by a 3.5 mm input, while wireless audio is transmitted over Bluetooth. Cambridge doesn't specify the standard version it's using, but does call out A2DP support. Pairing is a quick and painless process. However, there's no built-in mic for fielding phone calls out in the back yard.

See that USB port? You can use the Minx Go to charge your smartphone, but only while it's connected to AC power. That's a disappointing restriction considering the speaker's best-in-class battery life.

Cambridge's offering has the simplest control mechanism in our round-up. There are buttons for turning the volume up, turning it down, and toggling power (plus entering Bluetooth pairing mode). With no microphone, there's no need for a communications button, and it's unfortunate that there's no way to skip or repeat tracks from a playlist.

Subjective Sound Analysis

Cambridge Audio put its focus where it matters: sound quality. The dedicated tweeters and woofers facilitate a stronger response across the entire frequency range. Bass is noticeably better, and it doesn't overpower other tones. Mids and highs are equally represented, endearing the Minx Go to many types of music.

Livability And Subjective Conclusion

With very little extra functionality to talk about, Cambridge Audio's Minx Go puts sound quality front and center. Of course, there are limitations to what two 2" drivers and 3/4" tweeters can do. But the Minx Go achieves more with such small drivers than any other system I've tested. Most disappointing is the lack of controls for repeating or skipping over tracks, and the inability to charge a USB-connected device using the built-in battery. Still, at $150, there isn't a better-sounding Bluetooth-capable speaker in this round-up, and the almost 24-hour battery life is simply wonderful.

Cambridge Audio Minx Go
Power:Not specified
Maximum Volume at 30 Inches:83 dB Line-in82 dB Bluetooth
Speakers:2 x 2" woofers2 x 3/4" titanium dome tweeters1 x rear-firing bass radiator
Impedance:Not specified
Measured Outdoor Bluetooth Range:8 meters
Inputs:AC charging port3.5 mm input jack
Outputs:3.5 V, 0.5 A USB port for charging other devices (only works plugged into AC power)
Controls:Minus button (Volume down)Plus button (Volume up)Power button (Power, Pause/play)
Battery:Built-in Li-ion rechargeable battery (capacity not specified)
Running Time at 46 dB(A), 20 inches:Approximately 24 hours
Dimensions:123 mm (4.8 in) height237 mm (9.3 in) width60 mm (2.4 in) depth
Weight:1089 g (2.4 lbs)
Build Materials:Plastic outer shell, perforated metal grille
AvailableColors:Black, White
Accessories:AC charger, 3.5 mm male-to-male cable, carrying case, manual
Bluetooth:Bluetooth (generation not specified)A2DP (Audio sync-only)
Hands-Free Phone:No
Microphone Sensitivity:N/A
NFC Pairing:No
Charging Time:<4 hours
LED Indicators:Charging and status
Warranty:One year
Amazon.com Price Range:$149
  • vmem
    whatever happened to really popular products like jambox and solemate? they're well within your price range
    Reply
  • DarkSable
    I run a firespinning troupe. When you're practicing routines, you HAVE to have loud, clear music, because the fire tools are spinning quickly, causing a massive amount of air turbulence with the flames, creating a very, very loud roar.

    In order to practice a routine with perhaps five other people on stage, you have to be able to hear the music to know where you are in the routine - otherwise someone might move too early or not move, and, well... bad things would happen.

    When I founded the club, I was looking at all sorts of options; what I really wanted was a shop boombox, but they were expensive and didn't have the battery life I needed for practice... and couldn't be plugged in because you practice outside.

    After reading a lot of reviews, I got the UE boombox. It has several features that were incredibly useful to me - most notable the fact that it could store three bluetooth profiles AND connect through a normal 3.5mm jack - that way we didn't have to just use my music collection, but could use other members' as well without them having to mail me the files.

    Solutions we tried to use before was an iHome system, which didn't come close to having enough volume, and an old CD boombox... which worked fine, except the CDs got worn out pretty quickly as they were outdoors, and it was limiting on what music we could use - we had to have it beforehand.

    So I got this UE boombox, and it was perfect. It doesn't have THE sharpest sound in the world, but it doesn't have distortion with everything turned to max volume, and it has solid base (so you can hear the beat clearly) and good battery life.

    For anything requiring outdoor music that has to carry well or be particularly well, I highly, highly recommend the UE Boombox. (It would work perfectly for, say, a beach party, or something like that.)
    Reply
  • lp231
    i was hoping you guys would also include the Creative Airwave.
    http://us.store.creative.com/B00COIHWVG/M/B00COIHWVG.htm
    Reply
  • thesuperguy
    The problem with this review is that they are basing their recommendations on the purely technical aspects that in the end, really don't contribute to sound quality. Ranking them based on features, range, and maximum volume is fine and all, but frequency range is not an indicator of quality. It is a very subjective thing.
    Reply
  • cleeve
    12155233 said:
    The problem with this review is that they are basing their recommendations on the purely technical aspects that in the end, really don't contribute to sound quality. Ranking them based on features, range, and maximum volume is fine and all, but frequency range is not an indicator of quality. It is a very subjective thing.

    That's not true, sound quality is foremost when it comes to factors that contribute to our final recommendations.

    Both subjective and objective measures of sound quality were taken into account.
    We can't chart subjective sound quality but that doesn't mean you should assume it's unimportant. It's a huge part of the analysis.

    Reply
  • cleeve
    12154939 said:
    i was hoping you guys would also include the Creative Airwave.
    http://us.store.creative.com/B00COIHWVG/M/B00COIHWVG.htm

    We asked Creative for a sample and they declined to answer.
    Reply
  • boogalooelectric
    I just bought one of these for $20 from Monoprice

    http://www.monoprice.com/Product?ab3=b&utm_expid=58369800-11.KFcpHWqASSutMqNPOqaJVg.1&c_id=108&cp_id=10827&cs_id=1082704&p_id=7364&seq=1&format=2&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.monoprice.com%2FCategory%3Fc_id%3D120%26cp_id%3D10827

    I hooked them up to a pair of old cambridge soundworks 2.1 speakers and voila I have bluetooth speakers.

    Monoprice has another for $45 that can also do NFC.

    Also where is the JBL3
    Reply
  • lp231
    12155607 said:
    12154939 said:
    i was hoping you guys would also include the Creative Airwave.
    http://us.store.creative.com/B00COIHWVG/M/B00COIHWVG.htm

    We asked Creative for a sample and they declined to answer.

    I went to this shopping center one time and one of electronic stores has it on demo. It doesn't sound too bad, quite good actually, was about to get it, but its price was a bit steep during that time.
    Reply
  • DarkSable
    12156054 said:
    I hooked them up to a pair of old cambridge soundworks 2.1 speakers and voila I have bluetooth speakers.

    Monoprice has another for $45 that can also do NFC.

    I've got an NFC/bluetooth receiver for my stereo system as well. The trouble with that is that it requires two wall outlets to run - the idea behind these is you can take and use them anywhere. (I would consider them bluetooth boomboxes, rather than speaker systems.)

    Reply
  • TunaSoda
    My Bose Soundlink Mini blows all of those away for sound quality
    Reply