Minx Air 100 Speaker vs. Sonos
The Bluetooth capability of the Minx Air adds to its versatility, making it a good choice to connect to Android phones and tablets. Easily paired by pressing the Bluetooth button on top of the Minx Air, it instantly streams any music—including saved music, Google Play Music, audio books, movie soundtracks—from iPhones/iPads, Android, or any Bluetooth-enabled device. As with most Bluetooth connections, your device should be no more than about 30 feet from the speaker. If you have an Apple device, this is where you can switch to use AirPlay.
AirPlay, Apple's wireless streaming standard, works over your home network. As long as both the device and the speaker are connected to the same Wi-Fi network, you can stream most any music from your iPhone/iPad/iPod—from Spotify, to your local radio stations on the Internet with Wunder Radio—or from iTunes on your computer. That means you can leave your phone in the bedroom and stream to the living room. Note that unlike many Bluetooth speakers, the Minx Air 100 does not have playback controls to pause, skip, or replay music, so you may want to keep your phone or tablet near you.
It is more difficult to initially connect the Minx Air to your home network, than it is to set up a Sonos system. Still, Cambridge's step-by-step instructions are easy to follow. Initially the Minx Air creates a peer-to-peer Wi-Fi connection. Choose the Minx on your computer, phone, or tablet's list of local WiFi networks. Open a web browser, type in "192.168.1.1" in the address (URL) line, and choose to connect the Minx Air to your home network. Switch your device's Wi-Fi connection back to your home network and it's ready for AirPlay from any of your Apple devices or iTunes on a PC. Compare that to setting up a Sonos speaker/device that only requires two buttons be pushed simultaneously to connect it to the network. Nonetheless, once the Minx Air is set up, streaming via AirPlay is as easy as tapping the AirPlay icon and choosing the Minx Air 100 as your speaker output.
Along with its wireless capabilities, the Minx Air has a 3.5mm auxiliary input and an analog RCA stereo input. A knob on the back of the speaker controls bass and a volume control plus five buttons to tune to preset Internet stations line the top.
The Minx Air 100 can be controlled by the Minx Air app for Android and iPhone at the speaker or via a small included remote. The remote control adds five more station presets (total of ten) and has all of the controls found on the speaker, including Bluetooth pairing. Using the Minx Air app you can assign Internet radio stations to the preset buttons on the remote and the speaker, or access up to ten stations directly. To step up to high-resolution music, you can search for stations with bit rates of 192, 256, or 320 Kbps. Tapping the equalizer button brings up a slider with preset curves for Jazz, Classical, Lounge, Electronic, Spoken Word, and Rock.
Still, the Minx Air 100 is a single speaker whereas Sonos is a whole-home system. Sonos speakers can also be paired to create stereo in a room and music can be streamed from your computer to more than one room at a time. The Sonos Connect device can stream music to your A/V receiver and the Connect Amp can be connected to your choice of speakers. Despite all of this flexibility, streaming music choices are limited to what is available in the Sonos app controller, whereas the Minx can stream anything you can play on your phone, tablet, and other Bluetooth devices.
The Minx Air 100 is a bit pricey at $449. At low volumes, the music is indistinct but not bad. Cambridge claims to use advanced algorithms in their digital signal processing. However, it performs amazingly well when you crank it up—there is no distortion, tinny sound, or rattling you often find with other Bluetooth speakers. It isn't portable and is meant to be tucked onto a shelf in any room of your house but if you have an Android phone or tablet, and, like me, want to blast Google Play Music at home, the Minx Air 100 will serve you well. For bigger sound, Cambridge makes the Minx Air 200 ($699)