Minx Air 100 Speaker vs. Sonos

Until I recently received Cambridge Audio's Minx Air 100 all-in-one speaker, I've been streaming music at home using a Sonos system. As much as I've enjoyed the great sound of the Sonos and its ability to create a song queue from a variety of services—music from Rhapsody mixed with Spotify and my own music—it's often a hassle to search for songs and create the queue. Sometimes, I just want to walk into the house, start a playlist on my phone and get great sound. Plus, Google Play Music is not available on Sonos. The Minx Air is both AirPlay- and Bluetooth-enabled so I can instantly stream from my iPhone or Android Samsung Galaxy IIIs.

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)

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COMMENTS
jnemesh's picture

Avoid these speakers completely. They are simple, yes, convenient, yes, but in no way reproduce the music the way a good system will!

Buy a $300 pair of bookshelf speakers...there are lots of good choices out there from Klipsch, Polk Audio, Paradigm or a thousand others. Then get a good integrated amp for $300-$500, NAD makes a really nice budget integrated, or look at the Marantz. Then hook up your smartphone with a mini to RCA cable. (use an old smartphone on wifi...doesnt need to be activated, and you can run Pandora, Spotify, Google Play [or iTunes, if you swing that way], and you can just leave it hooked up...if you are on android, you can even run an app that gives you remote control from another device!)

Another consideration is how long these will last you compared to standard speakers. A good pair of speakers will last you 7, 10, 15, even 20 years! These things will be in a recycle bin in 5.

This will sound an order of MAGNITUDE better than these plastic toys! If you love music, put some effort (and maybe a little money) into a QUALITY music system. You won't regret spending the time or money once you start listening!

trae73's picture

This Minx seems to be just another "higher end" blue tooth speaker. The beauty of SONOS is its flexibility for a multi-zone or whole home solution. Does SONOS sound as good as my B&W Nautilus speakers on a dedicated 2 channel amp/pre-amp? Absolutely NOT! But its more than sufficient for most ears - especially when streaming music throughout the house. And the flexibility of beefing up your music collection with Rhapsody and Pandora make it a great solution. We run seven zones in my house right now and I'll have two more by year's end.

I have friends who live in big houses all wired with Niles and Control4 systems (that cost thousands and more). I'm always entertained when they try out our sonos and comment about how much nicer it is than their systems (and they paid 4-5x as much or more).

s14brown's picture

While I totally agree with you, jnemesh, we're not talking apples to apples here. These are portable systems and aren't intended to sound like traditional speakers. They're today's version of the boom box.

Jonasandezekiel's picture

Wait a minute. When did turning on your receiver/amp/preamp and putting in a CD or a record become so difficult?? Streaming, by any name, simply sucks. I just don't get it.

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