Gone are the days when vintage speakers would bear a certain grace and superlative sound over modern stereo speakers and audio equipment. But we cannot deny the fact that with technology steeply climbing the ladder, at a very high pace. This is now churning out smart speakers, directional speakers, capsule-sized miniatures, and a lot more, giving users an incredible experience ahead.
2017 has been the year of audio innovation. With rising competition, it is creating a difficult road for companies to stay ahead of the race. And with thousands of brands adding into the existing audio market, here's another one coming in hot with a new zing — the X-Mini Xoundbar. X-Mini, a brand unknown to the Indian continent, is well-known for its ultra-compact, portable Bluetooth speakers overseas — in Singapore. Let’s dig a bit deeper and find out if this miniature audio speaker can truly match its giant step-cousins.
Build, aesthetics, design
At first glance, the Xoundbar resembles a French harp — like a free reed wind instrument. It's hard to not fall in love with the cute looks of this little Bluetooth speaker. It is compact and quite impressive. Wrapped around in a plastic frame and metal grilles on both front and rear, the X-mini Bluetooth Speaker looks very classy. The speaker gives an impression of being rugged and solid, and the small and sleek profile makes it highly portable. You can carry this pocket-sized speaker anywhere — short travels, or on a camping trip, this little sound box can entertain you and a small crowd with great ease. At just 128g, you won't even find it a burden on your luggage.
The front features a metallic mesh (grille) that protects the drivers, with an X-mini logo towards the bottom. The rear panel houses a micro-USB port to charge the internal battery but doesn't feature an auxiliary port. There is also an LED indicator beside the micro USB port, which gleams blue when the speaker is on and it turns red during charge.
On the top, the speaker houses power button, volume and track navigation controls. The audio control buttons on the Xoundbar are not very user-friendly, it is complicated as you get confused. They are small and you need to press them hard and deep with your fingertips to get the job done. Also, there is no dedicated button for next/previous audio control. Moreover, a rubber footrail on the bottom does a job to prevent the speaker from slipping or sliding off the table. The Xoundbar is splash-proof; however, it's not certified for a dip in the water.
The only qualm we have with the speaker is that it doesn’t come bundled with a pouch or protective case — bundling a case would help protect it from scratches when tossed into your backpack. Also, an inclusion of a lanyard slot would have made it handy for additional portability.
Finally, what good is a speaker if it does not have a sound performance? The X-mini Xoundbar packs a fairly impressive sound in the tiny package; however, the audio output depends on the genre of music, and the volume at which you listen to. Tiny speakers cannot deliver deep bass as the low-frequency drivers need to move a distance to deliver a good punch. Surprisingly, X-Mini has done a fair job in delivering a decent amount of low-frequency audio from the Xoundbar's speakers. However, don't expect deep, punchy music, as this little one is not meant for thumps and thuds. The speaker pumps a total output of 6W with 3W from each channel and has a frequency response range of 160Hz to 16kHz.
Interestingly, when you kick-start the speaker and gradually raise the volume levels up, the little bass kicks in without drowning out the rest of the frequencies. However, the speaker tends to distort a tad bit during higher volumes — but this can be totally ignored. Overall, the speaker is pretty loud, which will surprise anyone around that it is performed by such a tiny device.
The Xoundbar houses two 36mm drivers that deliver the quality audio. Talking about highs, the X-mini Xoundbar can get pretty loud. The mids and highs are pretty much detailed too. And if you are not happy with one, you can also pair two Xoundbars together for a stereo output. It won't replace your home audio system, but will surely keep the party going on.
The Xoundbar works best for watching movies on your laptop, smartphone or tablet. A built-in microphone helps you answer phone calls, but in our test, we found that the audio was a bit distorted and muffled. The microphone is not sensitive enough and the person on the opposite end is unable to hear the conversations well enough. Overall, the X-mini Xoundbar does a fair job to deliver quality audio, that is suitable for enjoying movies and music on the go.
As for the Bluetooth (v4.2) connectivity, we faced absolutely no issues with the network. The speaker works seamlessly within 10 feet range (as claimed). Pairing the speaker is quick and flawless — we never witnessed any lag in connecting nor any moments of disconnection. The speaker features A2DP, AVRCP which allows the user a complete control over the music playback. This includes play/pause, forward/reverse and next/previous tracks.
Lastly, the battery life — of course, no one wants a speaker that can hardly entertain you with just a music album or two. The device is said to offer up to 5 hours of continuous music playback and the X-mini Xoundbar speaker keeps that promise. However, it totally depends on the music that you play, the audio levels that you listen to, and the distance from the smartphone you keep could have an impact on how long the battery would last. The speaker draws its power from a tiny 700mAh battery, which sadly takes around two and a half hours to juice up completely. X-Mini should look into the charging speed for its next iteration ahead.
Should You buy it?
If you are looking for a highly portable speaker that can deliver a decent bass and good highs, the X-mini Xoundbar is a great option to consider. At X-mini Xoundbar, the price of Rs 3,790 makes it a good value for money considering the compact size and the audio delivery. It is also available on Amazon India at a price of Rs 2,720. The price can definitely justify its IPX4 certification, the long playback, the above average audio quality, good looks and definitely the highly compact design, that stands in its stride. If you are looking for something that can fit your budget, there are other speakers you can consider from brands such as JBL, Xiaomi, and a few others. But if compact and portability is your concern, the Xoundbar from X-mini wins hands down....