Cambridge Audio is one of the UK's most prolific AV manufacturers, churning out everything from amplifiers to DACs with a clear emphasis on quality and affordability. Over the years Cambridge Audio has offered a few different loudspeakers; however it's never been their primary focus. That could change, for their all-new, highly compact and affordable Minx speaker system isn't out to just challenge the status quo - it's out to destroy it.
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The premise behind Cambridge Audio's Minx system is simple: provide a truly high-end experience in a small, décor friendly and affordable package. Let's start by tackling the Minx's size. There are currently two varieties of Minx loudspeakers, the Minx Min 10 and the Min 20. The difference between the two is simple - the Min 10 features a single two and a quarter inch driver or BMR (Balanced Mode Radiator) and the Min 20 has two. My review system, the S325, utilized the latter, containing five Min 20s in all, each measuring six inches tall by three inches wide and a little over three inches deep. Each Min 20 weighed a scant one and a half pounds and comes in either high gloss white or black finish. There are three subwoofers in the Minx lineup, the X200, X300 and X500. The S325 system I received for review came packaged with the X300 subwoofer which shares the same finish options as the Minx satellite speakers, though it's a bit larger at 12 inches high by 10 and a half inches wide and 11 inches deep. The X300 tips the scales at 16 and a half pounds, making it easy to place and hide within a room. Both the Min 20 satellite's and X300 subwoofer's construction was first rate and their finish (mine happened to be high gloss white) looked stunning, especially considering the S325 system retails for an affordable $1,399.
The Minx satellite speakers utilize a full-range driver that Cambridge Audio has dubbed BMR or Balanced Mode Radiator, which basically allows for the small full-range drivers to act, more or less, like flat panel drivers, "bending sound waves," versus punching them in a piston-like movement. In other words, the Minx drivers don't just move back and forth, they ripple much like water after you've pierced it with an object like your finger or a stone. According to Cambridge, this gives the Minx a wider frequency response, deeper bass and wider dispersion than other speakers of similar size. Does it work? On paper the Min 20 satellites used in the S325 system have a reported frequency response of 130Hz to 20kHz, which isn't going to win any bass awards but considering the Min 20's dual, two and a quarter inch driver compliment, it's not horrible. The Min 20's have an impedance of eight Ohms but Cambridge does not specify their sensitivity. Though, according to the Min 20's spec sheet, they can be powered by as little as 15-Watts with a maximum of 75 recommended, making them ideal for most any AV receiver out there today - including those made by Cambridge Audio.
As for the included subwoofer, the X300 has a reported frequency response of 33Hz to 200Hz, thanks to its internal 300-Watt amplifier powering its eight-inch, forward firing driver. The X300 does employ an eight-inch passive radiator as well. The X300 uses an active crossover, which is variable between 50Hz and 200Hz to help blend it with the smaller Min 20s, giving the entire system and your ears a full-range performance.
Out of the box, the five Minx satellite speakers are ready for either wall mounting or table mounting, courtesy of their included wall brackets and/or rubber feet. Table and floor stands are also available, though they carry an extra charge. Cambridge Audio designed the Min 20's (and Min 10) binding posts to accept bare speaker wire as well as speaker wire terminated with spade and/or banana ends as well, something you rarely find on speakers of the Minx's size. I connected the five Minx satellites to my Onkyo TX-SR707 receiver using Transparent's The Wave speaker cables and it couldn't have been easier. Integrating the X300 sub was equally simple, requiring a single run of Transparent's The Link interconnect and a nearby AC outlet.
The whole system was easy enough for a single person, namely me, to install and within about an hour everything was connected and ready to be enjoyed. I took a little longer because I wanted to run the S325 system through my Onkyo's Audyssey EQ setup as well as give everything a once over, including a few days break-in, before sitting down for any critical listening.
I began with Iron Man 2 (Paramount) on Blu-ray, because big action films are often rife with good demo material, like the scene featuring Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr., preparing to "drop" by the Stark Expo from a cargo plane overhead. As the cargo doors opened, AC/DC's "Shoot To Thrill" roared to life with all 5.1 channels of angst fully engaged. As Stark, wearing his Iron Man armor, leapt from the cargo hold, the accompanying fireworks that exploded around him possessed great impact, detail, texture and sharpness, not to mention dynamics. The low rumble of Iron Man's afterburners was visceral and had good weight behind it, which was impressive considering the S325 system utilizes a smallish, eight-inch subwoofer in the X300. My wife even took the time to comment on how "that little thing" was shaking the room. The Mini 20's coherence was also a welcomed surprise as was their vast soundstage and strong imaging, that when stretched across all five speakers created a truly multi-dimensional experience that put me in the middle of the action. Another thing I noticed was that despite my efforts to get the Minx S325 system to misbehave, I was unable to, for neither the Mini 20s nor the X300 subwoofer seemed to have a limit - at least not in my room, which was unexpected.
Read more about the performance of the Minx S325 5.1 system on Page 2.