Finally, I put on a track from a classic two-channel audiophile recording— “Take Five” from The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s Time Out [Columbia, stereo SACD]—just to see how the Minx system would fare. Not too surprisingly, the Minx rig passed this test with flying colors, doing a lovely job with Brubeck’s syncopated, swinging 5/4 rhythmic figures on the piano, and offering a surprising sophisticated rendition of Paul Desmond’s gorgeous and evocative alto sax solo. While the timbral qualities I observed weren’t quite on a par with those I might have heard from, say, today’s best $2000 - $3000/pair floorstanding speakers, they were downright amazing given that the Minx S325 package is a full-on 5.1-channel surround system selling for a tick under $1400. But my favorite part of the experience involved listening (several times in a row, actually) to Joe Morello’s wonderful drum solo, which serves as the living pulse that drives “Take Five” forward. Morello’s playing is so sure-handed and effortless that it makes the very uncommon 5/4 time signature sound like the most natural thing in the world (but just you try and play it as smoothly as Morello does). The taut skin sounds of Morello’s drums resonating within the recording space sounded simply terrific through the Minx rig, demonstrating that this system is every bit as comfortable with stereo recordings as it is with multichannel material.
Consider this system if: you want an extremely compact speaker system that produces huge, spacious soundstages, offers levels of sonic finesse that far exceed the norms for speaker packages in its class, and that sounds dynamically punchy and robust—even when answering the demands of vigorous action film soundtracks or when playing relatively loudly in large living room spaces, etc.
Look further if: you need King Kong-grade dynamic capabilities or the want the heightened resolution, detail and focus you might expect from today’s better $3000-and-above systems. Also look further if you are extremely finicky about sound quality in the tricky transition region between the upper bass and the lower midrange (where you might hear some minor discontinuities between the Minx sub and satellites).
Ratings (compared to comparably-priced surround speaker systems):
Transparency and Focus: 9
Imaging and Soundstaging: 10
Tonal Balance: 8.5
Bass Extension: 9
Bass Pitch Definition: 9
Bass Dynamics: 9.5
Let me come right out and say it; at this moment in time, Cambridge Audio’s Minx system has earned the unofficial title of “King of the Compact Surround Systems”—at least with respect to any of the competing alternatives I’ve heard thus far. As far as I’m concerned, it has earned this title through its combination of unexpectedly high levels of refinement and finesse, stouthearted dynamics, exceptionally vivid imaging, and spacious soundstaging—all offered at a more than reasonable price.
Cambridge Audio Minx Min 20 Satellite Speaker
Driver complement: Two 2.25-inch BMR drivers. Drivers share the workload from 130Hz to ~800-900Hz; above that point output from the lower BMR driver rolls off, while the upper BMR driver continues upward to 20 kHz, crossover free.
Frequency response: 130Hz – 20 kHz
Sensitivity: 87 dB
Impedance: 8 ohms
Dimensions (HxWxD): 6” x 3.1” x 3.3”
Weight: 1.65 lbs. each
Warranty: Not specified
Cambridge Audio Minx X300 Powered Subwoofer
Driver complement: One 8-inch forward-firing woofer, one 8-inch downward-firing passive radiator
Integrated amplifier power: 300 watts
Frequency response: 33Hz – 200Hz
Dimensions (HxWxD): 12.4” x 10.5” x 11”
Weight: 16.5 lbs. each
Warranty: Not specified
Price: $599.99 each
System Price: $1399 as tested
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