Ease of Use
Summary : Excellent sound from a small device. Maybe too expensive for missing mid-level's.
With the release of the Cambridge Audio Minx Air 100 wireless speaker, bringing an all-in-one wireless speaker system to the general public with an almost portable format that still requires a power outlet. The Cambridge Audio Minx Go we previously reviewed was a completely portable speaker system with a rechargeable battery that was much smaller and easily mobile.
Cambridge Audio Minx Air 100 adds a plethora of connectivity options too with support for Airplay, Bluetooth and a built in internet radio player.
It’s great to see a company showing support for so many different connection options instead of focusing on a single type of device. With support as a standalone radio player and connected player for computers, Android and iOS devices, your choices are plenty.
There’s a fair amount of competition in this area, especially in the Bluetooth section so we’ll see how it fares in operation.
The specifications for the Cambridge Audio Minx Air 100 speak for themselves and offer the quality you’d expect from a top of line manufacturer like Cambridge Audio.
Drive units: 2 x 100mm (4’’) Balanced Mode Radiator (BMR) drivers
Amplifier power output: 100W
Input voltage: 100V – 240V (50/60Hz)
Standby power consumption: <0.5W
Auto Power Down (APD): Adjustable from 23hrs 45minutes to 15 minutes, or OFF
Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 b/g
Wi-Fi encryption: WEP, WPA, WPA2
Ethernet: IEEE 802.3, 10 Base-T or 100 Base-T
Dimensions (WxHxD): 354 x 182 x 118mm (13.9’’ x 7.2’’ x 4.6’’)
Weight: 4.1Kg (9.0lbs)
AirPlay compatibility: AirPlay works with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with iOS 4.3.3 or later, Mac with OS X Mountain Lion, and Mac and PC with iTunes 10.2.2 or later.
Offering the familiar minimalistic design Cambridge Audio have used in the past the Mix Air 100 oozes quality from the first touch. It’s not a light device, but it’s not too heavy either, and it’s not meant to be a mobile device you’re going to carry around often, only when you want to move it to a different room in your house.
The Cambridge Audio Minx Air 100 feels very solid with its solid, single body construction and rubberized buttons and base preventing vibration and improving the overall experience.
The front entire face is covered in a mesh fabric hiding the speakers inside and providing a very clean look to the front and sides. The back is busier due to the power, connectivity and other controls required to setup and run the speaker.
The Cambridge Audio Minx Air 100 is available in white/grey and black. The review unit sent to us is the black version.
Included with the Cambridge Audio Minx Air 100 is a tiny wireless remote control bringing down the quality and usability a little from the speaker. It’s simply too small with tiny round dimple buttons for the controls. I would have expected something a little bigger and easier to use. Remember you can also control the Cambridge Audio Minx Air 100 with your cell phone using the application you can download so the remote control may never get used.
Some people may consider the design of Cambridge Audio Minx Air 100 a little too minimalistic for their taste, but personally I really like it. It’s classy and modern looking and would fit nicely in any home.
The first feature that stands out for the Minx Air 100 is that it will connect to almost anything you can think of. From your basic 3.5mm Aux connector for your older devices that don’t support wireless protocols to Apple AirPlay using WiFi or hard wired LAN connection. You also have support for stereo Bluetooth found in almost every smartphone, tablet and computer available these days.
AptX is also supported, which most new devices can support. AptX is a higher quality version of standard Bluetooth and squeezes the absolute maximum digital detail out of any device that supports it. This enables CD-quality playback of high-bitrate digital audio files.
Setup of the initial connection to my network was a breeze using the built in WPS function on the Minx 100. I went to my home router and started the WPS connection process and then simply pressed the WPS button on the rear panel of the Minx 100. A few seconds later the Minx 100 was connected to my home network.
I installed the Minx Air app from the Play Store on OnePlus One Android smartphone and the app immediately detected the Minx Air 100 on my home network.
A quick search through the thousands of available Internet Radio stations for BBC Radio One and then a click on the screen of my smartphone brought BBC Radio One to life on the Minx Air 100.
Going through the LAN connection setup was little trickier and I had trouble bringing the web page setup on my desktop. After reading the instructions more thoroughly, I realized I had to connect to the WiFi network the Minx Air 100 was broadcasting the rest was easy. Sometime it really does help to read the instructions. As long as the Minx Air 100’s LED on the back panel is flashing Green and Orange, the Minx Air 100 will be broadcasting its own wireless network ready for you to connect.
I couldn’t test the AirPlay functions without access to an iPhone or other apple device and the Minx Air 100 does not support casting from Android, which is a shame.
I did pair my Android smartphone with the Minx Air 100 using Bluetooth and firing up Google Play Music streamed to the Minx Air 100 with ease.
My neighbor has one of the Bose Wave wireless speakers that we frequently use round the fire pit and I was always amazed by the sound the small device can produce. I think the Minx Air 100 compares favorably. The sounds the Minx Air 100 produces are good but not mind blowing and lacks a little sometimes compared to the Bose Wave.
Cambridge Audio included two of its 10cm patented BMR drivers designed to produce a large room filling sound from a small package. The results appear to be true and sound is large and extremely loud. I was surprised by how loud I could crank the volume which remained distortion free all the way to its limits.
Sound quality was extremely full and crystal clear for the size of the unit. It’s no four foot tall HiFi speaker, but it’s sufficient and more than expected for its size.
Control of the Bass for the Minx Air 100 is via a knob on the rear control panel instead of being available using the app on the smartphone. There is bass controls on the included remote control, which is confusing and I never really worked out how the hardware button on the control panel and the software controls worked together. You’ll have to play around the Bass controls to find your sweet spot.
The inclusion of built in Internet Radio is a very nice addition and pre-programmed station buttons on the top of the Minx Air 100 makes it a breeze to instantly listen to your assigned favorites.
Finding and assigning the radio stations is a simple task using the free app from the Android play store or Apples iTunes. The Minx Air 100 comes with 10 of the top radio stations already assigned to the keys, but these can easily be changed.
Locating new radio stations is simple with filters for genre, bit rate and more available through the app. It really is simple and interface has been designed well.
I’m loving the Minx Air 100, especially the built-in Internet Radio station player and the sound is great but not amazing. With a little more attention to the mid-levels, the Minx Air 100 could have received an extra start bump in the ratings, but there are simply too many contenders available today.
The Cambridge Audio Minx Air 100 is still a worthy addition to any home and I have no problem recommending it. Once I’ve had a chance to play with the Minx Air 200, the Minx Air 100’s big brother, this could change.
For $399, the Minx Air 100 is not a cheap system, and its big brother is $100 premium at $499. I’d recommend you choose wisely and head to your local store to test out the competition before laying down your dollars.
Further information can be found on the Cambridge Audio website.