Firing up the Minx system is a bit like the moment in Men in Black when Will Smith fires the Noisy Cricket for the first time. We simply weren’t ready for the blast of rich, powerful sound that these dinky speakers are capable of kicking out. It seems inconceivable that such small cubes, which are virtually invisible when dotted around the room, can fill a room as easily as they do, but here’s the proof.
With our usual gamut of test discs the S315 really showed off its skills. The ferocious action scenes in Avatar and The Legends of the Guardians on Blu-ray beggar belief, firing out the brutal sounds of battle with the sort of composure and bite befitting a bigger, more voluminous set of speakers. Explosions and rattling machine guns during Avatar’s ‘Attack on Home Tree’ chapter sound fast and dynamic, making for one of the most thrilling renditions of this scene we’ve heard from a compact system.
The system’s impressive speed are power are backed up by excellent detail reproduction and top-drawer dialogue handling. High frequencies are crisply rendered, pulling plenty of subtle detail out of the mix during busy and subdued scenes. You never have to strain to hear speech no matter how frenetic the action.
Also impressive is how well the subwoofer and satellites meld together. They form a unified whole that seeps into every part of the room, and you can never really tell where the bass is emanating from. And if it’s punch, tautness and depth you’re after, the X300 is more than qualified.
If we’re being picky, they’re missing that extra sprinkling of fairy dust that separates serious full-size speakers from compromised compacts. With music for example, it doesn’t quite tease out every last microscopic detail – breaths, fingernails on strings, the dragging of a brush along a drum – but it’s still more refined than you’d expect. And after cranking the volume up high, some high frequencies strained a touch, but kept its poise a lot better than some compacts we’ve tested. On the whole this is an incredibly accomplished performance.
Jamo and Tannoy have already set the bar very high in the compact speaker system market, but Cambridge Audio’s Minx S315 sails right over it. The power on offer from such diminutive speakers defies physics, while the thrilling dynamics, clear detail and punchy, potent bass create the illusion that there are much larger speakers in the room. Build quality and design are also top-notch, but the only issue we have is the price compared with the competition – they cost twice as much as the Jamo A 101 HCS 5, and although build quality is superior, we wouldn’t say the performance is twice as good.