I was curious to see how the Minx system would handle the demands of a full-scale action film and so I tried the system while watching the action-packed thriller Salt. One scene that proved revealing in many different senses involved the state funeral for a U.S, Vice President, where first U.S. President Lewis (Hunt Block) and then Russian Federation President Matveyev (Olek Krupa) rise to deliver eulogies (both unaware that a daring attack is unfolding beneath the floors of the cathedral where the funeral is held).
Listen carefully to the sound of President Lewis’ voice as he addresses the crowd and note how his voice reverberates within the cathedral interior. Through the Minx system, the echoes and reverberations sound almost uncannily and eerily realistic, so that the sound of a lone voice speaking within a huge, open space becomes thoroughly convincing. In my case, in fact, it seemed as if the dimensions of my listening room had magically expanded, while the acoustics of the room shifted from those of a normal family room to take on the characteristics of a large, stone walled cathedral with high, buttressed ceilings.
But in the spaces below the cathedral, agent Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) is mounting an attack on the Russian President that will soon shatter the solemnity of the occasion overhead. We hear the terse, fierce sounds of hand-to-hand combat as Salt fights her way through teams of Secret Service agents guarding the lower floors, and then the violent, percussive sound of Salt creating a distraction as she shoots out the control panel for the cathedral’s pipe organ, unleashing a cacophonous eruption of low pipe organ notes. Finally, Salt plants and then triggers an explosive charge that causes the floor beneath the speaker’s podium to collapse, dropping the chagrined Russian President into the basement below, where Salt methodically shoots him. I frankly expected the Minx system to wilt during this barrage of gunshots and explosions, but it did not. Instead, it maintained a truly remarkable degree of composure while conveying an unexpectedly lively and powerful presentation of the effects at hand. The really cool part is that the sub’s DSP circuitry managed to control the woofer’s output levels so artfully that I wasn’t particularly aware of any “throttling” or compression being applied (although the effects were sufficiently loud and aggressive that I must presume the DSP circuits intervened to prevent the woofer from bottoming out).
To check out the Minx systems capabilities in terms of reproducing high-resolution multichannel music recordings, I put on a favorite bellwether track: “Country Roads” from Gary Burton’s Like Minds [Concord, multichannel SACD]. I have mentioned this recording in many TPV reviews, and part of what I like about it is the fact that it offers a distinctive “onstage perspective” of a great jazz performance. By design, you should have the illusion of standing onstage in the midst of the musicians, and through the Minx system that’s precisely what you get. But what you might not expect, at least not from a system the size of the Minx rig, is the unusually vivid, vibrant, and large-scale presentation that the diminutive S325 system delivers.
Through the Minx system, Gary Burton’s vibraphone seems to be bursting at the seams with rich tonal colors, while each of Burton’s adroit mallet strikes seems to launch a veritable fountain of transient energy that soars upward and outward, filling the recording space. Similarly, when guitarist Pat Metheny takes his solo, the honey-toned voice of his guitar sounds at once relaxed and yet also intensely focused, even though it is presented far off to the right hand side of the stage. More so than many music recordings, “Country Roads” captures moments where listeners can—and through the Minx system do—hear instruments performing almost directly beside them, not just in front of them as in most typical audiophile recordings. It is greatly to the Minx system’s credit that it creates smooth, wraparound images and a wonderfully realistic and enveloping soundstage, in much the same way that larger and more costly systems do.
But if “Country Roads” shows us the Minx systems imaging and soundstaging strengths, it also reveals one minor weakness, which is a subtle (actually, very subtle) sense of discontinuity that arises between the upper end of the X300 subwoofer’s range and the lower end of the Min 20 satellite’s range. What exposes the discontinuity is bassist Dave Holland’s exquisite solo, which neatly spans the transition region between the sub and the satellites. It isn’t so much a case of textural differences between the sub and satellites, per se (though there is probably a bit of that), but more a case where you become aware that the imaging characteristics of the sub are, after all, different from those of the satellites. As musical lines progress upwards from the sub’s range to the satellites’ range, sounds at first seem anchored to the subwoofer enclosure, but then expand into a heightened sense of three-dimensionality as the satellites take over the workload. In fairness, though, readers should note that this is an area where virtually all of the small sat/sub systems I’ve heard (this one included) exhibit minor sonic shortcomings.