When “X-mini” is mentioned, most people will immediately think of the iconic capsule speaker which took Singapore by storm in 2007 and pioneered the portable speaker category. Although the brand has taken a back seat in recent years, X-mini is making an epic return to the portable wireless speaker market with not one, not two, but SEVEN new speakers – all promising sound larger than size, but each one unique in its own individual way.
X-mini was started in Singapore in 2007 by a duo of audiophiles who wanted to make good music accessible, portable and available for the everyday consumer – and their aspirations materialised in the form of the iconic capsule speaker that we all have come to know and love.
I personally saw this little beast of a speaker everywhere in my school days. It was commonly used by students, teachers and working professionals and was insanely popular – for a good reason too. At that time, no one could make something as small as the Capsule and make it pump out such loud, room-filling audio at the same time. Although the Capsule speaker had an excellent run – selling 8 million units by 2015 – it faded into obscurity in the face of more recent innovations such as the Bose SoundLink, JBL Charge, and waterproof UE Boom.
While these brands have been competing against each other for a bigger share of the portable speaker market, X-mini has been working hard behind the scenes to develop more products which suit the varied lifestyles of Singaporeans today. “Music is a big part of everyday life, from day-to-day routines to specially created moments. There are times we would like to amplify that feeling or mood through music with others and that’s why we have designed a wider range of speakers to cater to varying tastes in music, as each is fine-tuned to suit different genres,” said Mr. Ryan Lee, Co-founder and CEO of X-mini.
Ten years on, they’re ready to hit back at the audio giants with an arsenal of seven speakers: from tiny ones that fit in the palm of your hand, to a huge standing unit that’ll fill rooms with theatre-grade audio. We had an opportunity to take a look at them at X-mini’s launch event at Tippling Club – here’s what we’ve seen and what we think.
X-mini CLICK 2
The tiny CLICK 2 is the spiritual successor to the classic capsule speaker and the most basic of the range. Although it weighs just 85g, the X-mini CLICK 2 is packed with a 36mm (4Ω) driver which can go much louder than typical phone speakers. It even surpasses the speakers found on some laptops – it gets louder than my 2013 Macbook Pro. Audio quality on the CLICK 2 is basic but good for a speaker of this size – you’ll get relatively clear highs and mids, but very little bass.
The CLICK 2 lasts six hours on a single charge, and takes around two and a half hours to get to zero to 100% over microUSB. That’s not all – you can even wirelessly connect two X-mini CLICK 2s for stereo sound and an even louder audio experience. When paired with a smartphone, you can also use the single control button at the bottom of the speaker as a remote shutter for selfies. At S$39.90, it’s a very compelling buy.
Next in line is the XOUNDBAR – a 21.5mm thin speaker that fits in the footprint of a bar of Kit-Kat, and what X-mini claims to be the smallest stereo speakers ever made in the world. Its design is another take on the small form factor speaker – while the CLICK 2’s drivers push out mono audio upwards, the XOUNDBAR pushes out stereo sound sideways.
Sound signature and volume is similar to the CLICK 2. Although we noticed some distortion at high volumes, we found it handled most tracks quite well at 80% volume.
The XOUNDBAR is very petite and perfect for everyday carry.
There’s also a set of controls on top where you can increase/decrease volume, play/pause audio, and even pair two XOUNDBARs together for a louder stereo experience. The XOUNDBAR lasts five hours on a single charge and charges over MicroUSB. At a price of S$49.90, it’s a good buy and a flatter alternative to the rotund CLICK 2.
X-mini KAI X Series
The KAI X lineup is X-mini’s new signature series, engineered to deliver a portable, high-quality listening experience. Each KAI X speaker can be paired with one of the same type for stereo sound, and you can also pop in a microSD memory card if you want to play your music offline.
The KAI X1 is a small puck-shaped speaker that fits nicely in the palm of the hand, and the smallest out of the entire KAI X series – it’s great for everyday carry. Its 50mm drivers offer much better audio fidelity than the CLICK 2 and XOUNDBAR, pushing out more pronounced mids and strong bass than its smaller counterparts. Controls are found on the side of the speaker, and it lasts six hours on a single charge.
The little synthetic leather strap at the side of the KAI X1 reminds us a little of B&O’s portable speakers.
The middle sibling – the X-mini KAI X2
The KAI X2 is the middle sibling of the series, coming in taller and thicker than the puck-shaped X1. It’s 52mm drivers produce stronger bass than its little brother, making it an ideal speaker for listening to bassier music. It lasts 8 hours on a single charge.
The X2 is slightly taller than the X1, but still very portable.
The big brother – the X-mini KAI X3
The KAI X3 is the largest of the bunch – with a 66mm driver, it produces far stronger bass than any of X-mini’s smaller speakers and is fantastic for bass-heavy genres such as EDM and Funk. It delivers clear highs and mids, and very deep bass – rivalling the deep sound produced by the UE Boom and Wonderboom. Like the X2, it lasts 8 hours on a single charge.
The KAI X1, X2 and X3 are selling for S$69.90, S$99.90 and S$129.90 – very competitive prices when compared to similar speakers offered by UE, JBL and B&O.
The X-mini SUPA is a departure from the palm-sized audio the company is known for. It’s bigger than the rest of X-mini’s lineup, weighing 960g and measuring in at 214 x 104 x 66mm – slightly smaller than a tissue box.
The SUPA has a very sleek design inspired by vintage jukebox systems – we feel it looks like a piece of equipment used in home theatre systems of the mid 80’s. It’s controlled by a smooth, analog-looking one-swivel dial on top, with a few additional buttons and charging ports found on the back.
Don’t let its vintage looking exterior fool you though – the X-mini SUPA is decked out with two speakers, built-in Digital Signal Processing (DSP), and Dual Pressure Air Compression (DPAC) audio technologies with a signature tweeter-in-tweeter technology.
This collection of internal components help the SUPA retain original sound quality at high volumes with minimal distortion. Music aficionados will be pleased to hear that the SUPA comes with two pre-set equalisers – one to enhance the highs and mids, and one to pump up the bass.
The X-mini SUPA goes at S$209.90 – quite a reasonable price for a well-designed, speaker which looks great and produces a full, wholesome sound.
The X-mini INFINITI is the biggest speaker X-mini has made to date – measuring 60cm tall and weighing in at 4KG.
It moves away from the conventional directional audio system, housing four drivers and one dedicated subwoofer with built-in DSP and DPAC audio technologies. The INFINITI uses surrounding infrastructure, like walls, to create a very loud, full-sounding stereo experience.
Like the smaller portable speakers, you can pair two X-mini INFINITI speakers for stereo sound and position them in a room for the ultimate audio experience. They can get extremely loud – two of these speakers were more than enough to fill the second floor of a shophouse with very rich sounding audio.
The sound signature of the INFINITI is very wholesome – you get loud, clear highs and punchy mids. The bass, while very pronounced, isn’t overbearing and complements the higher frequencies, producing a very rich sound.
The X-mini INFINITI goes at S$569.90 – not cheap for a floor standing speaker, but definitely worth considering since it’s battery powered and lasts four hours on a single charge.
Loud sound, solid build quality, finicky controls?
Overall, we think that X-mini’s seven speakers are strong entries into the bluetooth speaker arena. These speakers are a great step up from the original plastic-clad capsule speaker of 2007 – build quality on every one of X-mini’s products has improved significantly and feels on par with high quality speakers made by top manufacturers in the market.
Unfortunately, one thing we don’t like about this new lineup is the built-in controls – specifically the ones on the XOUNDBAR, KAI X series and the SUPA. Most controls feel unintuitive and work the complete opposite of what you think they’d do – for instance, pressing the volume button on the XOUNDBAR goes to the next track instead of increasing the volume – likewise, to increase or decrease the volume, you have to hold down the respective volume button instead of pressing it.
Despite the unintuitive controls, we got used to how they worked after spending about ten minutes with each of the products. There’s very little negative points about X-mini’s new lineup save for the controls – they all look great, produce big sound for their size, and are relatively affordable for their class.
There's an X-mini for everyone!
Whether you’re a casual listener or a hardcore audiophile – there’s a X-mini speaker suited for you. Students, everyday listeners and light travellers will love the extreme portability and affordable pricing of the CLICK 2 and XOUNDBAR.
Listeners who want more bass and depth to their portable music experience can consider the KAI X series – the X1, X2 and X3 offer a richer audio experience than the CLICK 2 and XOUNDBAR, and get bassier as they get larger in size.
And finally, audiophiles who are interested in deeper, higher quality sound can find such fidelity in the SUPA and INFINITI.
Price and Availability
All seven of X-mini’s speakers can be purchased from www.x-mini.com or any X-mini authorised resellers, Best Denki, Courts, Challenger, Gain City, Harvey Norman and Popular from end June 2017.
We’ll be doing a more in-depth review of each of X-mini’s speakers in the near future, stay tuned to us for more tech news and reviews in Singapore.