X-mini II Capsule and MAX II Capsule Speaker Review

In my X-mini KAI Capsule Speaker review I mentioned two things that I considered might be worth pointing out.  The first was the price. When I reviewed the KAI  I showed it around to a lot of my mates. The universal opinion was ” Oooh I love the size! Oooh I love the sound! Oooh, the price….I don’t love it that much!”. Second was the fact that the mono speaker might not be enough for stereo “purists”. When X-mini saw this they offered to send me review units of two others of their speakers, the II Capsule Speaker and the MAX II Capsule Speaker from their range that addressed these concerns.  Will they meet the grade ? Read on…….

A quick comparison

KAI, II Capsule, MAX II

Above you can see the differences in size between the three models.  The II Capsule  is slightly smaller than the KAI while each MAX II is the largest in the series.

X-mini II Capsule Speaker

The X-mini II Capsule Speaker is the predecessor of the Kai without the Bluetooth connectivity. The same 40mm speaker, the same 2.5W of power and the same Bass Xpansion System.  It’s slightly lighter at 83.5g , and smaller at 60 mm×44mm (closed resonator), and is rated at a higher 12 hours of music, though from my experience if running “conservatively”,  the built in battery lasts quite a bit longer. And the price……..well it’s SGD$49.90 ($29.90US), compared with SGD$139 ($99US) – so over 2/3rds less than the KAI. And for all you fashionistas out there, it’s available in 9 different colours so you can accessorize (black, blue, orange, pink, purple, red, green, silver and white). :)

Just like the KAI, it has the integrated (albeit short 11.5cm) 3.5mm stereo connector, Buddyjack port (more on that later), and a USB port for charging, and the longer stereo cable (58cm),  but other than that, there’s only an on/off switch and a rotary volume dial. The II Capsule is made of a painted plastic whereas the KAI is has a much nicer matte rubberised finish.

Once again running this from a variety of devices, with many different genres of music, the II Capsule demonstrated the same aural qualities as the KAI.  Crisp and clear with a bass that certainly exceeds what you expect from something this small. If you don’t need Bluetooth connectivity (which in the X-mini range certainly comes at a price) and want a tiny and portable mono sound solution, then the II Capsule is definitely worth considering.

The only concern I have is the open driver unit like with the Kai.  I’m still really scared that something’s going to get in and pierce the cone even when it’s stored in its supplied pouch.

X-Mini MAX II Capsule Speaker

For those stereo “purists”, the MAX II Capsule may be the answer. One of the trade-offs you’ll have with stereo is having to carry two speakers with you so you’ll have additional size and weight and also the associated cables. The neat thing about the MAX II is that the speakers connect together for storage and transport via a couple of small magnets in the bottom.  Available in black, red or white, at 65.8mm×53.4 mm (closed resonator) and weighing in at 178g, they’re not going to take up too much space or add too much weight in your gadget bag. Like the capsule speaker above , each speaker independently puts out 2.5W and is rated for 12 hours of music (again  conservative as I’ve been running these 9 hours a day for the last week). Pricing is SGD$74.90 (approx $50US).

A single cable gives you all the connectors you’ll need: 1 X USB, 2 X miniUSB, and a 3.5mm audio. The cable is around 75cm in length and includes a rotary volume knob built in. The cable itself might be the “weak point” of the MAX II. It’s a fairly specific cable and while you can get replacement cables from X-mini, if it dies on  you there’s not a lot you can do to jury rig up a replacement. Note too that there’s a left and right plug on the multi-cable and I’ve actually rigged them up incorrectly above. :)  The cable is easy to set up but a bit unwielding and messy, though in the picture above I have everything pretty close together, something you’re not going to do if you separate everything out for stereo sound. Also supplied is a soft pouch to fit all this equipment into when you’re on the move.

Rather than a “flat” speaker like the two mono offerings, the MAX IIs have an angled driver in them.  It’s not a big angle and is designed to assist in directing the sound out towards the listener. Not surprisingly, each speaker in the stereo pair performs very similarly to an individual II Capsule speaker or KAI.  So you can expect clear, bright, and distinct mids and highs with sufficient bass for most genres of music or movie soundtracks.  If you crank it up enough, you can get those speakers “dancing”. Low’s appeared to be deeper than the II Capsule; however, this may be because you’re getting double the bass with two speakers. The stereo sounds fatter and fuller than the mono offerings, but I suppose this is really to be expected running in stereo.

Once again, and perhaps it’s just me as I haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere else, but the MAX IIs have even less (no) protection of the speaker – the cones are completely exposed. A ripped or torn cone can’t be a good thing, can it?

Buddy Jack

Buddy Jacking is the capability to connect one X-mini speaker to another whether it be a mono or stereo speaker.  Connecting two mono speakers  still gives you two mono signals, but it’s amazing how much difference it makes to the volume and fullness of the sound.  In the above example, I can still use Bluetooth to remotely control my music player via the KAI.

Similarly I can connect the MAX IIs to the KAI.  Buddy Jacking this way results in the  MAX IIs outputting stereo but the KAI was still putting out mono sound.  If you want true stereo sound you don’t really want a mixed mono sound in the middle to “muddy” the separation.  Again though, the addition of two sets of speakers made the output volume substantially fuller. This function can also be used to connect your Bluetooth device to a home stereo or something similar.

Stereo separation aside (especially given that it’s not really what this function is about), if you had multiple X-minis and want to pump up the volume at a gathering, this feature is very handy to fill that space with a “bigger” and “fuller” sound.

The last option is to connect them all together for 4 X the sound and because the MAX IIs are the master I’m getting full stereo sound. :)

In summary

Both sets of speakers met my expectations built from my review of the KAI.  Clear and crisp mids and highs, sufficient bass to let you know it’s there, and certainly more prominent than you’d expect from such a small driver.  My mates are all blown away (not quite literally :)) by the sound quality that comes out of all the X-mini range. Okay, they’re not going to satisfy a high-fidelity fanatic, and the bass isn’t going to rattle your teeth or burst your eardrums, but if that’s what you’re after you won’t be looking at these anyway. They’re aimed at the on the move sound enthusiast who wants a good balance between size, weight, and sound. If you need to share some tunes, or need to pump out more volume than the built-in speaker in your player, phone, or tablet currently puts out, then they certainly fit the bill.  If you’re in the market for this sort of speaker, either of these speakers is a really good option. If  Bluetooth isn’t important to you, they definitely come at a better price point than the KAI but with the same great quality and sound. If you need to fill a space with sound and you (or your mates) have multiple units, the Buddy Jack system works extremely well to further pump up the volume and “enhance” the sound.

Be warned though, like all market-leading and “trendy” products, there  are many reports of pirated and counterfeit versions of these out there with varying build and sound quality. Ensure you purchase either directly from X-mini or from an authorised distributor/reseller.

“Sound beyond size”…….you betcha.

Both speakers are available from the X-mini Estore

 

Product Information

Price:see review
Manufacturer:X-mini
Pros:
  • Small and portable
  • Fantastic sound for their size
  • Great battery life
  • Easy operation
  • Buddyjack function adds volume + fullness to sound
  • Good price point (compared with KAI)
Cons:
  • Exposed drivers
  • Cable on Max II a bit messy
Posted in: Audio, Video, TV Gear, Bluetooth Gear, Reviews

{ 9 comments… add one }

  • Annette Day August 5, 2012, 4:49 pm

    How do I get a replacement cable for my X-mini capsule (white)?

    Annette

    1
  • Ian Lim August 5, 2012, 6:59 pm

    @Annette – Suggest you contact X-Mini at http://x-mini.com/contact-us.aspx

    p.s. for privacy I removed you telephone number from your post.

    2
  • Max Chew August 30, 2012, 5:49 am

    Hi, I recently bought a X-mini 2 and I must say the sound quality is great when connected to Galaxy S2. However I find that voulume of the sound does not increase or amplify at all if connected to my I-Pad 2 or Samsung Galaxy tablet 7.7. In fact the volume of the sound coming from the X-mine 2 after connected to the any of the two devices is lower than when it is not connected.
    Is this X-Mini 2 not meant for these said devices?

    3
  • Ian Lim August 30, 2012, 6:41 am

    @Max works fine on my ThinkPad tablet and my son’s iPad. are you sure that the volume knob is turned all the way up ? Otherwise I’d contact x-mini

    4
  • Sylvie November 3, 2012, 8:20 am

    Considering purchasing one of the x mini speakers for a trip I’ll be making in a month’s time. However, I’m wondering if they work just as well on soft surfaces as on hard surfaces? For example, I’d like to know how much having the speakers on the bed instead of a table would affect the sound quality produced. It seems to me that x minis are quite dependent on having hard surfaces to ‘project’ their bass. Thanks in advance!

    5
  • Ian Lim November 3, 2012, 8:37 am

    Hey Sylvie, I suppose it really depends on what you’ll be listening to. I’ll often use my Xmini ii to watch a movie or tellie show in bed and have the Xmini sitting on a pillow or on top of my wheat shell filled Laplog for pumping the volume from my volume challenged tablet. It’s fine for vocals and special effects. I’ve even caught the wife watching shows with the Xmini dangling in mid air via its short cable. If it’s for music I’d just put it on the bedside table instead. Yes the bass isn’t as prominent when on a soft surface but it’s definitely better than the sound and bass from the tiny speakers in my tablet or even my Toshiba notebook.

    6
  • Peter November 8, 2012, 10:06 am

    The wholesale price?

    7
  • Janet Cloninger November 8, 2012, 10:17 am

    @Peter The Gadgeteer is a news and product review site. We aren’t a retailer or a wholesaler of these products.

    8
  • jonilyn October 23, 2013, 7:06 pm

    Hi! You said there’s a lot of fake or counterfeit of xmini. How will i know if it fake or not? Aside from i should buy it from authorized retailer. Any sign or symbols that i can look in to it?

    9

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