Given that the Oxford dictionary describes a minx as “an impudent, cunning, or boldly flirtatious woman”, it could seem a little odd that Cambridge Audio chose the moniker for its established series of miniature speakers, which we would characterise as decidedly reputable and discreet.
First introduced 12 years ago and with a footprint of just 8 x 9cm, the Minx cabinets are small even compared to most compact desktop computer systems, making it all the more remarkable that these tiny boxes are designed to offer flexible and immersive home cinema audio. But the Minx range is known for surprising listeners with its forward, wide-ranging sound that transcends the limitations of size, and this latest generation, impudent or not, is no exception.
Cambridge may be better known for its hi-fi separates, but the company also manufactures a number of well-regarded speakers. The Minx series sits below the SX range of full-sized cabinets and consists of two cabinet options: the single driver cubic Minx Min12 (£79 / $99 / AU$249) and the dual-driver Minx Min22 (£129 / $159 / AU$399).
For those looking to add a little bass, there are also two subwoofers to choose from: the 300 Watt Minx X301 (£449 / $549 / AU$1399) or the 200 Watt Minx X201 (£349 / $449 / AU$1099). The units are all available to purchase individually allowing customers to build a system that suits their space, or as two specially priced bundles: the 2.1 S212 package and 5.1 S325 surround sound set-up.
For this review, we listened to the S325 5.1 system, which comprises five Minx Min22 units and an X301 sub.
Weighing only 0.75kg, the lightweight Min22 speakers can easily be wall-mounted or positioned on furniture around your room. Plastic wall fixings are included but there is a range of smart-looking brushed metal stands available to purchase from Cambridge. A reel of narrow gauge single insulated speaker cable is included, ready to be cut to length, though for tidy, hidden cable runs we suggest most people will need to supplement this.
It’s not just the size of the Min22s that makes them easy to position. The range benefits from Cambridge's Balanced Mode Radiation (BMR) drivers, which work like a traditional piston driver for low frequencies, while higher frequencies are produced using a vibration motion across the surface of the speaker diaphragm. This technology allows the Minx to project a wide frequency range using small drivers with a near 180-degree dispersion. So, if like most people your living room isn’t perfectly symmetrical, it’s incredibly useful that the Min22s can be scattered around on shelves and tables without sacrificing sound quality.
Producing convincing bass frequencies is a tricky feat for any compact driver, be it a passive cabinet, soundbar or portable speaker. Cambridge hasn’t refrained from striving to continually improve the Minx’s ability to portray that part of the spectrum with their BMR drivers now in their 4th generation. The latest BMR technology delivers what the company says is an enhanced lower-midrange to improve integration with its subwoofers and a more uniform movement for accurate reproduction across all frequencies.
Recommended amp power 25-250W
Impedance 8 ohms compatible
Frequency response 65Hz to 20kHz
Dimensions (hwd) 15 x 8 x 9cm
Finishes x2 (high gloss black, high gloss white)
Driver 8-inch driver with 8-inch Auxiliary Bass Radiator
Amplifier output 300W
Frequency response 31Hz to 200Hz
Dimensions (hwd) 31 x 27 x 28cm
Finishes x2 (high gloss black, high gloss white)
Constructed from an acoustically damped thermo polymer and extruded aluminium, the curved cuboid cabinet design of the Minx range has remained fairly consistent since they were first conceived over a decade ago, with a high gloss lacquer finish in black or white with grey accent. The main visual difference between this and the previous generation is the small Cambridge logo on the grille’s corner rather than the company’s name, which further increases the speakers’ inconspicuous appearance.
On the rear of the speakers are binding posts that can take miniature banana plugs or bare ends, while the X301 powered sub has a pair each of RCA inputs and outputs as well as dial controls for crossover, volume and phase.
The X301 has twin 20cm cones: one front-facing active driver and one floor-facing passive radiator. A passive radiator works in a similar way to a traditional reflex port but gives the designer more control in how it works, so there is the potential for a better performance.
Meanwhile, the Min22s each house a 57mm BMR driver and a 57mm long-throw woofer. Rated at 8 ohms, these speakers should be compatible with most equivalently priced amplifiers. If using an AVR, the speakers should be set to ‘small’ while Cambridge suggests a crossover frequency of 140Hz to increase power handling.
We’re keen to test the Minx 5.1 package’s ability to deliver a big cinematic sound so we begin by streaming the blockbuster reboot of sci-fi epic Dune. The immersive desert soundscape, with tinkling, granular spice blowing around the characters, is projected with sparkling detail and there’s excellent consistency across the soundfield. The system also copes well with the dynamic shift of the arrival of the giant killer sandworms. There’s a strong leading edge and powerful impact to more forceful sounds, with the Min22s remaining tightly cogent around the lower mids. The volume that these tiny speakers can achieve is quite startling and we can happily crank the volume to uncomfortable levels without drivers distorting.
There are plenty of low-frequency effects here to give the X301 a solid workout that goes beyond the basic explosions and rumbles. When the characters speak using ‘Bene Gesserit’ – an ancient ancestral voice conveyed with manipulated sub frequencies – the depth and clarity of the X301 in delivering these otherworldly vocals is quite skillful. Despite the jarring nature of these moments, the sub remains well integrated with the rest of the system, producing a dramatic sound befitting of a big screen experience.
We do find however that, unlike the Min22s, which keep unruly frequencies tightly controlled, the subwoofer does occasionally struggle. For example, the deep sonorous score of Blade Runner 2049 causes the X301 to produce more rattle than bass and the level needs to be re-adjusted to prevent it from overwhelming the rest of the system.
While the overall cleanness of the package makes it enjoyable to listen to, there is a compromise in the overall insightfulness it can offer. When watching the opening of Baby Driver on Blu-ray, the guitars of Bellbottoms lack bite and this punchy sequence feels slightly smoothed out and overly polite. There’s still plenty of liveliness and depth to the sound, as well as snappy timing, but when compared to equivalent full-sized speakers the dynamics just aren’t particularly expressive.
Streaming Woncha Come On Home by Joan Armatrading, a little of the character of Joan’s emotive contralto is lacking compared to the Wharfedale Diamond 12.1 speaker package. But nevertheless, the pining vocal alongside the soft, delicate sound of the acoustic guitar and mbira, played in unison, is well presented and evenly dispersed across the system without any harshness.
Switching to Beyoncé’s Hold Up, there’s not quite the jaunty bounciness we’d expect in the filtered intro sample of Andy Williams Can't Get Used To Losing You, but the vocal sound is transparent and present and, while the sub doesn’t have a totally solid grip on the very lowest notes, it is responsive and tidy with a sense of rhythmic ease.
If space is the limiting factor in your home cinema sound search, then Cambridge’s Minx 5.1 system could be the ideal solution. With a controlled, transparent and enveloping performance, the Min22s deliver a hi-fi sound beyond the reach of other space-saving sonic solutions, such as soundbars, with an even, wide dispersion that makes them easy to integrate into the home.
As you also need to factor in the cost of a well-matched amplifier (we’d suggest looking around the £600 mark), the Minx isn’t really priced to compete with soundbar packages, however. Instead, we’d suggest as an alternative a full-size bookshelf package such as the What Hi-Fi? Award-winning Wharfedale Diamond 12.1 Home Cinema Pack, which will offer a more dramatic and nuanced performance for the same outlay. But for those restricted by size and not budget, the Minx system is well worth considering.
- Sound 4
- Build 5
- Compatibility 5
Read our review of the Q Acoustics 3010i 5.1 Cinema Pack
Also consider the KEF Q350 AV 5.1
Read our Wharfedale Diamond 12.1 HCP