X-mini CLEAR

Mac Format - - RATED | KIT - 218x89.5x112mm Con­nec­tiv­ity Blue­tooth and NFC 2x 40mm ce­ramic driv­ers, 1x 70mm ac­tive sub­woofer Ex­cel­lent sound USB port for iPhone charg­ing Quite ex­pen­sive

There was a time when Blue­tooth speak­ers had poor sound and cost too much. But things have im­proved and prices are now more rea­son­able. So where does the CLEAR fit in?

It’s a por­ta­ble Blue­tooth speaker that fea­tures three sep­a­rate am­pli­fiers, one for each of its two 40mm ce­ramic driv­ers and one for the in­ter­nal 70mm sub­woofer. Yes, it’s a por­ta­ble 2.1 sys­tem… and it’s got flashy lights on it, too.

Sound qual­ity is ex­cel­lent. The com­bi­na­tion of two full-range driv­ers and a sub­woofer pro­duce a more re­fined sound than the 2.0 speaker ar­range­ment that you’ll find in many other Blue­tooth speak­ers. Bass is deep but smooth, with­out ever go­ing over the top. Mid-range is whole­some and holds its own, while the highs fizz and pop with crisp­ness. It sounds good, then, but the size will al­ways be a lim­i­ta­tion – don’t ex­pect a big sound.

Pair­ing your de­vice to the speaker is as sim­ple as set­ting up any other Blue­tooth con­nec­tion. Once paired, your phone or tablet will re­mem­ber the speaker and hook up to it au­to­mat­i­cally. There’s also a 3.5mm line-in jack on the back for plug­ging straight into your de­vice if you want to go wired, and the USB port will charge your phone even when run­ning on bat­tery power. Sadly, the NFC op­tion for easy-pair­ing will go un­used with Ap­ple de­vices.

But the X-mini CLEAR is not with­out its draw­backs. For a start, it’s pos­si­bly twice the size of other popular speak­ers. It’s heavy too – 920g – and for a speaker that costs the best part of £170, it’s also lack­ing a bit of pre­mium sheen. The trans­par­ent look has been done be­fore, and while it can look great in the right en­vi­ron­ment – es­pe­cially with its three-mode mood light­ing set­tings – it’s still made of plas­tic and thus lacks that stylish edge.

This brings the cost of the pack­age into the spot­light. While most other Blue­tooth speak­ers out there are 2.0 sys­tems, there are some stun­ning prod­ucts avail­able for un­der £100. The right price seems to be around £80, mak­ing £169 hard to jus­tify. James Riv­ing­ton

Sounds great for its size, but its plas­tic build and high ask­ing price don’t jus­tify a strong rec­om­men­da­tion.

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