Cambridge Audio Minx S215 5.1 Channel Speaker System

Cambridge Audio Minx S215 5.1 Channel Speaker System
Cambridge Audio Minx S215 5.1 Channel Speaker System. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

One reason consumers shy away from home theater is all the speakers, and the space they take up. As a result, consumers get seduced by speaker systems that tout great sounding "tiny" speakers. Some of these systems are cheaply priced and sound cheap, and some are very expensive, but still don't deliver. How do you strike a balance? I have reviewed several good sounding compact speaker systems, but the Minx S215 5.1 channel speaker system perked my ears up.

Product Overview - Minx Min10 Satellite Speakers

  • Driver: 1 x 2.25-inches BMR (Balanced Mode Radiator)
  • Frequency Response: 140Hz-20kHz.
  • Sensitivity: 85db, Impedance: 8 ohms.
  • Power Handling: 15-50 Watts Recommended (RMS)
  • Weight: 0.95lbs (0.43kg), Dimensions (H x W x D): 3.1 x 3.1 x 3.3-inches (78 x 78 x 85mm)
  • Mounting options: Counter/Shelf/Table or On Wall.
  • Finish Options: Black or White

Product Overview - Minx X200 Powered Subwoofer

  • Driver: Front Firing 6.5-inch main driver supported by 2 side mounted 6.5-inch passive radiators. The Passive radiators extend the low frequency extension of the subwoofer by adding additional surface area for the sound to disperse.
  • Frequency Response: 39Hz (-6dB) to 200Hz, Power Output: 200 watts RMS
  • Phase: 0 to 180 degrees (continuously adjustable).
  • Crossover: Active Adjustable - 50Hz-200Hz
  • Connections: RCA Line input (LFE), AC power receptacle, Power On/Off: Two-way toggle.
  • Dimensions: (H x W x D) 8.6 x 8.3 x 8.7-inches (219 x 210 x 222mm).
  • Weight: 11.0lbs (5.0K)
  • Available in Black or White

When picking up or moving the subwoofer, be careful not to damage the side mounted passive radiators.

For a look at the speakers, subwoofer, and their connections and control options, check out my supplementary Cambridge Audio Minx S215 5.1 Channel Speaker System Photo Profile.

Minx BMR Technology

Cambridge Audio's Minx series speakers are more than just compact, they also house an innovative speaker design, referred to as a Balanced Mode Radiator.

Instead of a traditional speaker cone, BMR technology combines a flat panel radiating surface with the piston motion of a traditional loudspeaker. This results in extended frequency response and very wide sound dispersion. As a result, the Minx series speakers produces room filling sound from a very small physical footprint.

Also, unlike most traditional cone speakers, BMR technology not only facilitates wide dispersion in the horizontal plane, but also in the vertical plane. What this means to the listener is that the Min10s project sound well beyond the confines of its small physical footprint.

So how did the Minx S215 system perform? First, take a look at the additional components I used to test the system and then proceed through the rest of the review.

Audio Performance - Min10 Satellite Speakers

Whether listening at low or high volume levels, I found that the Min10's delivered clear sound, that was lively and surprising well dispersed.

For music vocals were distinctive and detailed. I would say the only complaint with that sound was a little thin in the lower midrange, but compared very well with the Klipsch Quintet speaker system used for comparison.

In fact, in terms of vertical sound dispersion, the Min10s faired better than the Quintets.

For movies and other video programming, the satellite speaker assigned to the left, right, and surround channels performed very well with the same characteristics as the Min10 assigned to the center channel.

With Dolby and DTS-related movie soundtracks, the satellite speakers not only did a great job reproducing a widely dispersed sound image that filled the room, with very little gap as sounds moved from channel to channel, but Min10's also produced good detail for their small size as well providing a sense of direction.

Good examples of this are provided by the "Echo Game" scene in House of the Flying Daggers the "Blue Room" scene in Hero, and the first "Battle Scene" from Master and Commander. Also, another great test for the Min10's was Disney's Tangled, which contained a good cross section of music and surround action sequences.

On music-based material, the system faired better than I was expecting and did well with Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, and Dave Matthews/Blue Man Group's Sing Along, and the orchestral sound field in Joshua Bell's performance of the The West Side Story Suite.

On the other hand, I found that the Min10's are somewhat subdued in the lower midrange tones and harmonics produced by pianos and other acoustical musical instruments. This was evident in the Norah Jones album, Come Away With Me. Although on par with the Klispch Quintet's performace in this area, the Min10's couldn't do the job that the much larger EMP system that I also used for this review. However, we are talking apples and oranges, especially in speaker size and power handling capability.

Audio Performance - X200 Powered Subwoofer

Despite its compact size, the subwoofer had adequate power output for the system. One thing that is to the X200's advantage, is that is not only has a main driver, but two additional passive radiators mounted on the left and right side of the enclosure. This provides a much larger surface area for the low frequencies to be reproduced in relation to the cabinet size.

This also helps to to provide more dispersion of low frequencies throughout the room.

I found the subwoofer to be a very good match for the rest of the speakers, which straightforward settings that actually provide indicators as to the best crossover setting to use when using either the Min10 or larger Min20 satellite speakers. Of course, settings can be tailored to your specific room or listening preferences.

With soundtracks with prominent LFE effects, the X200 did well with most films such as Master and Commander, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and U571. However, the X200 did exhibit some drop-off at very low frequencies and loss of texture.

In addition, for music, the subwoofer came up a little short in reproducing the famous sliding bass riff on Heart's Magic Man as well as the extreme low bass of Sade's Soldier of Love accurately. Both cuts are an examples of extreme low frequency bass not typical in most music performances. On the other hand, the X200 did well with the mid and lower bass of Dave Mathews/Blue Man Group recording of Sing Along.

On the other hand, despite the above examples, based on its design and power output, the X200 subwoofer provided a satisfying experience subwoofer experience overall, without being overly boomy in the mid or upper bass. In addition, the crossover transition between the X200 subwoofer and the Min10's was fairly seamless.

For a look at the frequency response curves of both Min10 satellite speakers and X200 subwoofer in relation to db output and room used for testing, as measured and corrected by the Anthem Room Correction System, check out my supplementary photo.

What I Liked

1. Very innovative speaker design that really extends the limits on how much air a compact speaker can really push.

2. Great sounding compact speaker system. Despite the extremely small size of the Min10 satellite speaker, they easily fill an average size room (in this case a 13x15 foot space) with satisfying sound when paired with a home theater receiver.

3. Easy to set up and use. Since both the Min10 satellite speakers and X200 subwoofer are extremely compact, they are easy to place and connect to your home theater receiver.

4. Variety of speaker mounting options. The satellite speakers can be placed on a shelf, mounted on stands, or on a wall. Since the subwoofer is so compact, it is easy to find a spot for it that doesn't intrude on the room.

5. Basic speaker wall mounting hardware is provided, with additional stand and wall mounting hardware available as options.

6. Very affordable. At a suggested price of $799, the combination of price and performance make this system a good value.

What I Didn't Like

1. The Min10s are somewhat subdued in the lower midrange tones and harmonics produced by pianos and other acoustical musical instruments.

2. Low power handling capability for the Min10s.

3. I would have preferred less low frequency drop off on the deepest bass frequencies - However, for its size and power output, the X200 subwoofer provided a good match for the rest of the system. Cambridge Audio does offer two larger subwoofers (X300 and X500) that might be a better fit for larger rooms.

4. Line audio inputs only for the X200 subwoofer, no standard high level speaker connections.

Final Take

I found that the the Cambridge Audio Minx S215 5.1 channel speaker system delivered clear sound across a wide range of frequencies and well-dispersion, yet very directional, surround sound image.

The center channel sounded better than I would have expected, especially since the speaker design is so much smaller than any center channel speaker I have used. On the other hand, the diminutive size of the Min10 speaker does contribute to slight thinness in vocals and acoustical instruments. However, considering the extreme compactness of the speakers, they sound very good, especially for an asking price of $799. This system is a real value, especially when compared to some much more expensive better-known brand compact systems that tout great performance but don't really deliver.

Whether you are looking for a compact speaker system to "hide" in your main room or someone that already has a main system with large speakers, but wants something more modest, but with great performance, for a secondary room, the Cambridge Audio Minx S215 5.1 channel speaker system is definitely worth consideration.

For a closer look at the Cambridge Audio Minx S215 5.1 channel compact speaker system, also check out my supplementary Photo Profile.

Cambridge Audio also offers other Minx Speaker System configurations, such as the S325 (compare prices) and S325 5.1 channel systems, as well as the S212 2.1 channel system (compare prices).

In addition, you can also create your own system by mixing and matching Minx speakers. Compare Prices for the Min10 and Min20 satellite speakers, as well as the X200, X300, and X500 Subwoofers

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

Additional Hardware Used in This Review

Home Theater Receivers Harman Kardon AVR147, Anthem MRX700 (on review loan). NOTE: Both receivers were used in 5.1 channel operating mode for this review.

Source Components:

Blu-ray Disc Player: OPPO BDP-93 used to play Blu-ray, CD, SACD, and DVD-Audio Discs.

CD-only Player sources included: Technics SL-PD888 and Denon DCM-370 5-disc CD Changers.

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer Systems Used for Comparison:

System #1: Klipsch Quintet III in combination with Polk PSW10 Subwoofer.

System #2: Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System 2: EMP Tek E5Ci center channel speaker, four E5Bi compact bookshelf speakers for left and right main and surrounds, and an ES10i 100 watt powered subwoofer.

TV/Monitor: A Westinghouse Digital LVM-37w3 1080p LCD Monitor

Audio/Video connections made with Accell, and AR Interconnect cables. 16 Gauge Speaker Wire used.

Level checks made using a Radio Shack Sound Level Meter

Additional Software Used in This Review

3D Blu-ray Discs: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Despicable Me, Disney's A Christmas Carol, Goldberg Variations Acoustica, and Resident Evil: Afterlife.

2D Blu-ray Discs: Across The Universe, Avatar (2D), Hairspray, Iron Man 1&2, Kick Ass, Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Shakira - Oral Fixation Tour, Sherlock Holmes, Tangled, and The Dark Knight.

Standard DVDs: Hero, House of the Flying Daggers, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, and U571

CDs: Al Stewart - Uncorked, Beatles - LOVE, Blue Man Group - The Complex, Joshua Bell - Bernstein - West Side Story Suite, Eric Kunzel - 1812 Overture, HEART - Dreamboat Annie, Nora Jones - Come Away With Me, Sade - Soldier of Love.

DVD-Audio discs included: Queen - Night At The Opera/The Game, Eagles - Hotel California, and Medeski, Martin, and Wood - Uninvisible, Sheila Nicholls - Wake.

SACD discs used included: Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon, Steely Dan - Gaucho, The Who - Tommy.