Cambridge Audio has been a household name for multiple decades. And over the years as theyâ€™ve grown to include various different markets in their audio range, one thing has always remained constant: the quest to provide a stylish and well sounding piece of audio equipment. The Minx M5 is the companyâ€™s attempt at computer audio systems. A small footprint doesnâ€™t immediately give one the impression of big sound. But then again, seasoned veterans will know that big doesnâ€™t always equal better. Is Cambridge Audioâ€™s Minx M5 worth the $229 asking price?
Design & Construction
To the naked eye, the Minx M5 arenâ€™t exactly screaming for attention. But truth be told, Cambridge Audio isnâ€™t about shock value. The real goal is a well designed, sophisticated look that entices potential buyers with itâ€™s minimalistic characteristics.
The 3-piece 2:1 system features two small satellite cubes with 2-inch drivers and a small(ish) subwoofer. The satellites provide 15W of power each with the subwoofer bringing 30W itself, totalling 60W with everything factored in.
The piano black, glossy finish will certainly look slick on your desk. It will also show you each and every place youâ€™ve touched the satellite speakers in weeks past. Itâ€™s the nature of the beast as far as glossy finishes go. That said, for what Cambridge Audio is going after with the M5, we think the fingerprint issue is pretty minimal and therefore trumped by the presentation factor. Unlike the satellites, the subwoofer unit is in a matte black finish.
Finally, Cambridge Audio has designed the Minx M5 with a handy little hockey puck sized controller. Push the big, spinning dial in like a button to turn on/off the M5. Naturally, the spinning dial controls volume up and down. On the front of the controller is a headphone jack so that plugging in your own pair of cans requires a lot less wire running to your computerâ€™s audio jack(s). The added bonus here of course is that this headphone jack runs through Cambrdige Audioâ€™s DAC in the M5, which should be significantly better than the vast majority of onboard audio chips on most peoplesâ€™ motherboards.
While design is certainly something to consider in the more general sense since these things will be sitting on your desktop, within eyesight of yourself and others every day, sound quality is still what ultimately clinches the deal (or pushes you to some other product).
After a couple weeks of many hours of testing between video, music and gaming, we can say that the Minx M5 is something worth noting, though, we honestly expected a bit more from something carrying the Cambridge Audio name. For the price and (especially) size, the M5â€™s produce some pretty decent audio quality. Mid ranges are forward, loud and well detailed. Likewise, the subwoofer is pretty capable in the low end. As long as your placement of the sub is ideal, the reward will be bass that both extends fairly deep and audibly. The biggest fault we can find with the M5 is that highs are quite reserved and rolled off. Even with some EQ work it’s not ideal. If you listen to a lot of music that’s fairly detailed in the upper ranges, you might find yourself missing parts of it more than you’d like.
One thing that audio junkies want to know given a specific speaker or system is what is it geared towards: movies, music or gaming. With the M5 weâ€™d have to say gaming and movies are a bit more in focus with music taking a 2nd place position. Still, that doesnâ€™t mean music quality is by any means bad. Itâ€™s quite good, actually. But the sound characteristics that we observed during our last couple of weeks means music playback will tend to sound a bit darker and less detailed.
Now, remember, the M5 is a pretty tiny speaker set. Even with an audio company as renowned and successful as Cambridge Audio canâ€™t perform magic. Thereâ€™s only so much you can get out of a system of a given size. With the Minx M5, Cambridge Audio has done a fantastic job of wringing out every last bit of sound quality possible. Thankfully, getting so much out of something so little doesn’t cost an arm and a leg this time around. $200+ for desktop speakers may seem like too much to many people. But for those who appreciate audio, theyâ€™ll probably come to realize that the combination of size, performance and price are a pretty good deal.
All that said, if youâ€™re willing to part with $229 for desktop audio, we think the Cambridge Audio Minx M5 are worth the consideration. Otherwise, you can get ~90% of the audio performance for less.
Big sound for the size but an MIA upper range keep the M5 from getting top honors.