Next up I went with Black Swan (20th Century Fox) on Blu-ray. Thanks to the film's beautifully mastered DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, everything from dialog to the film's numerous musical numbers was presented faithfully through the Minx S325 system. Once again it was the S325's coherence that struck me, for there was never a "hole" in its sonic performance, which further added to the illusion that I was there. Despite their small stature the Mini 20s never sounded small or restricted, actually quite the opposite - in fact, dialog via the horizontally placed Mini 20 was decidedly full-bodied and free of boxy colorations making for a very natural and lifelike sound. I'd even go so far as to say the Mini 20s sound like loudspeakers three times their size, and that when paired to the X300 subwoofer are capable of floorstanding speaker-like performance, though the Minx S325 system is far easier to live with (according to my wife).
As impressed as I was with the Minx S325's multi-channel performance, nothing could've prepared me for its two-channel one. Beginning with Peter Gabriel's "Heroes" from the album Scratch My Back, which I downloaded in 48Hz/24bit FLAC from Bowers & Wilkins' Society of Sound, the Minx S325 system proved to be as adept at music as it was on film. Gabriel's vocals were dynamic and lifelike in their weight and air and his placement within the soundstage was rock solid. The soundstage was nicely appointed with tremendous accuracy throughout, allowing me to close my eyes and easily place every instrument from the orchestra to the grand piano with ease. Even with only two speakers and the X300 subwoofer active, the sound the trio was capable of producing was startling, for it simply sounded bigger, richer and better than expected.
I ended my evaluation with Stevie Ray Vaughn's 1991 release, The Sky is Crying (Sony). On the track "Boot Hill," the Minx S325's midrange performance was sublime, possessing a smooth, liquid demeanor that had appropriate air and rhythm without sounding thin or becoming fatiguing at high volumes. Vaughn's raspy vocals were captured brilliantly and hung effortlessly in space between the left and right speakers. The X300's bass response, as heard in the track's kick drum, was dynamic and clear with good texture. For such a small subwoofer I was often astonished by just how low and rich the X300 could play without distortion.
Overall the Minx S325 never failed to impress and is one of the best small satellite subwoofer speaker combos I have ever heard, for despite its diminutive size the performance the Minx system leaves in its wake is anything but.
Despite their wonderful construction and clean, modern look I find the Minx S325's finishes of gloss white or black to be a bit limiting. There are a lot of other satellite subwoofer systems out there that offer a wider variety of finishes beyond just white and black and I feel for the Minx S325 to be truly competitive in this arena, they needed to offer a few more colors.
While the X300 worked wonders in my room, I could see a scenario that those with larger rooms or a propensity for kick-ass bass could need more. Apparently I wasn't alone, for Cambridge offers a larger subwoofer in the X500 for such an occasion. They also make it easy to daisy chain two X-Series subwoofers together if your AV receiver or preamp doesn't have multiple subwoofer outs.
Lastly, the entire Minx S325 system does take some time to break in and sound its best. I say this because it took a lot longer than even I was expecting. Stick with it and give the Minx S325 time to mature, for the results are well worth it.
Competition and Comparison
There are a number of fine sounding 5.1 channel systems utilizing small satellite speakers and a small subwoofer available today. One that immediately comes to mind is Focal's Dome 5.1 Surround Sound Speaker System, which at $2,595 does cost more than the Minx S325 but is also larger and capable of filling larger rooms with ease, not to mention it comes in more finish options than the Minx system.
Another contender would have to be Orb Audio's Mod1 Speaker System, which at $798 is more affordable than the Minx S325 but also only features satellite speakers with a single, three-inch driver compared to the Mini 20's two, two and a quarter inch drivers. Also, the Minx S325's subwoofer, the X300, is a bit more robust and capable of lower output compared to the Mod1 subwoofer.
Lastly there's Definitive Technology's ProCinema 1000 system, which at $1,595 is probably the most closely matched in terms of price and performance to the Minx S325 system, though if looks are at all important to you the Minx S325 system wins this contest in a landslide.
For more information on 5.1 speaker systems including the latest news and reviews please visit Home Theater Review's Bookshelf Loudspeaker page.
The Minx S325 5.1 speaker system from Cambridge Audio is one of the finest satellite subwoofer speaker systems I've ever heard. The combination of the Mini 20s and X300 subwoofer was a match made in both audiophile and home theater heaven for their combined sound was spacious and airy with all the dynamic punch one would expect from a larger system. The Minx S325 system had electrostatic-like levels of detail and imaging capabilities I've rarely encountered, all the while never sounding harsh or bright. If you're looking for speakers with tremendous form factor that are uber lifestyle and décor friendly, then look no further than Cambridge Audio's Minx S325 speaker system.
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