X-mini II capsule speaker
Distributed by New Age Trading (newagetrading.com.au), buy online from x-mini.com.au
Small; portable; good sound for the size; low price
Sound distorts at high volumes
I was sceptical of the X-mini II at first. I didn’t expect the tiny speaker to sound any better than my MacBook Pro speakers, and probably not all that much better than those in my iPad or iPhone. I was only partially right, so if you’re looking for a highly portable speaker that packs a decent punch for its size, then read on.
Featuring a 4cm speaker, the X-mini II is definitely mini. To put its size into perspective, it’s noticeably smaller than a tennis ball. It connects to your audio device via 3.5mm headphone out using the attached cable of approximately 10cm (so small because it snaps into a groove to hide away when in transport) or the combination 3.5mm audio and USB-charging cable (there’s no option for USB sound though) that’s about 50cm long. You may want to pick up an extender cable if you need the speaker further away from your device. The battery on the X-mini II is charged via USB, and boasts up to 11 hours of playback, which should be enough for most scenarios. All-in-all, it’s very portable. And you can link up multiple speakers via the attached cable (each one has an audio output for this purpose).
Considering its small size, the X-mini II performs admirably. It beats my MacBook Pro (13in) on volume, but unfortunately the sound gets muddy and the bass distorts at these high volumes. At lower levels, I’d say it just beats out the Mac. It provides a surprisingly rich sound, especially when extended (it pops up to reveal an accordion-folded plastic section that adds extra bass), but is still relatively tinny. Of course, it’s hard to expect much more from a speaker this size.
Simply holding the X-mini can alleviate some of the noise that occurs at high volumes. The vibrations of the music cause it to move around a bit when cranked, and this buzz against a desk or table is partly to blame. But you might get sick of the vibrations if you’re holding it for hours on end.
If you’re looking for a speaker to play your music while on the go, they don’t come much smaller than this. If portability is a priority over audio quality, then the X-mini II is ideal. I can imagine kids having a great time listening to music from their iPods on a school camp, for example.
Don’t expect the world from it in terms of sound quality, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
But there is an incredible use that I discovered for the X-mini II when I connected it to my iPad. If you regularly watch movies on an iPad (or indeed iPhone or iPod touch) with someone else, you’ll know that the audio from the in-built speaker is acceptable, but far from incredible. When I watched an episode of Mad Men with the X-mini II, I noticed far more detail than without it. Subtle background sounds became audible, with a surprisingly three-dimensional quality. Similarly, voices were richer, and the whole experience was generally more enjoyable. It’s not a surround sound home theatre, but it does the job for a TV show.
I wholeheartedly recommend the X-mini II as a bedside speaker (with an extension cable) for watching iPad movies under the comfort of your doona, or as a travel accompaniment to watch your own content in hotel rooms rather than paying $15 for a “new release” that you never remember seeing advertised at the cinema.
Australian Macworld’s buying advice
For fifty bucks, the X-mini II is a great buy for anyone wanting portable sound outside of their headphones. You won’t be blown away by the quality, but you’ll almost definitely be surprised by it. Especially if you pop it open to extend the bass.