When I was a wee lad, my passion for tech was already blooming. I bought an issue of a magazine on technology (for the life of me, I cannot remember which) and my parents, upon seeing me pore over the contents of it voraciously, asked me if I wanted to subscribe to it. And I did.
Along with it came a freebie, the X-mini II capsule speaker. So small, it was. So diminutive its size.
Yet so loud its sound.
It was extremely light. It was extremely convenient, and let me hear my videos and music. It was also pretty cheap, coming in at around 50 bucks, give or take 10 bucks.
What it offered despite its small stature, was sound beyond size, which is, in fact, the company’s slogan.
It was brilliantly designed, blew me away, and I loved it.
It was also the first time I had ever heard of X-mini. After several years of usage, it spoilt, due to wear and tear of the cable. I did not replace it, and in its absence, I forgot about X-mini entirely.
Yet it was not the last I’d hear about X-mini. Just recently, I received a review unit of the X-mini Clear. It was nothing like the X-mini I once knew. It was different. It was… big. Not huge, mind you. But its size, its volume, to be specific, was easily 10 times that of the capsule speaker I used to have. It is 22cm in length and and weighs near a kilogram at 920g.
The X-mini Clear has a huge 70mm diameter long-throw subwoofer mounted centrally in 22cm clear-backed housing, backed up by a pair of 40mm ceramic drivers. It is a 2.1 audio system – stereo, unlike the old capsules.
It has also been upgraded to suit the times. With Bluetooth, NFC (for easy Bluetooth connection) and an option to play your music over a cable that can be detached, it reflects our wireless age. It can even charge your smartphone using a USB cable.
The design was a clean, pill-like aesthetic.
It looked good, though I’m not a fan of the colour being brown/bronze. There is a dust cover though, so it is likely you won’t be seeing the speakers most of the time.
If you notice, it’s got this blue hint visible through the plastic. It’s supposed to beat rhythmically to the music, and there are two modes, slow and fast. I didn’t find it added much value to the music, because the light was simply not bright enough, and it was behind the speaker. It didn’t even illuminate the wall it was placed in front of in the day, and at night, it only just barely did, but hardly enough.
Does it live up to the brand slogan of “sound beyond size” though? It is loud enough for a party of about 15 to 20, and at highest volume, it doesn’t distort, but I cannot say that I am impressed with the “sound per unit volume” as it were. It can go loud, and most of the time, you won’t need to blast it at full volume, but it isn’t as impressive as one of their capsule designs.
But that’s okay, because what it sacrifices in loudness (not much of a sacrifice as it is still loud), it makes up for in terms of sound quality. Its audio quality is good for a speaker this size. Generally, at this size, speakers aim to be loud enough to satisfy. This manages to do that, while also ensuring that sound quality is good. Bass is decent, but not very powerful, but the sound is distinct and quite clear, with well separated instruments.
Battery life is rated at 10 hours, and I have no reason to doubt that. With a 6600 mAh battery, it should last you quite a while, but if you charge your phone even once (most Android phones have 2500 mAh, flagships have around 3000 mAh, iPhone 6 has 1810 mAh and iPhone 6 Plus has 2915 mAh) , then you’re not gonna get it to last much more than 6 hours.
One thing that I wish it included was a built in handle. It would be great to be able to carry this with one hand without worrying that it would fall, especially since it is meant to be portable. I could certainly imagine a family having a picnic at a beach while listening to music through this.
At the end, though, it comes down to price. The X-mini Clear retails at S$299. It is hardly cheap, and I would hesitate to say that it is worth it without comparing between other portable speakers, but the sound quality is good. Whether you are the type to care if the sound quality in speakers is that good, though, is a question that you will have to answer yourself.
The X-mini Clear is available now from Harvey Norman, Best Denki, Popular, many other authorised dealers.
For more details, visit the X-mini CLEAR Product Page (http://x-mini.com/product/x-mini-clear-custom-2.1-audio-system) or the X-mini Store (http://store.x-mini.com/product.aspx?id=c60ccbb4-3d45-4420-a95b-071aba976ac2).