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Podspeakers Minipods Bluetooth and Passive speakers review

Podspeakers MiniPod

€369
8.7

Build quality

8.5/10

Design

9.0/10

Ease of use

9.0/10

Performance

8.5/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • They look so cool
  • Connectivity options on the Bluetooth speaker
  • Loud and punchy
  • Clear presentation
  • Perfect for desks or bookshelves

Cons

  • Lacking in low-end warmth

minipod pairPodspeakers aim to bring some flare and design to the usual boxy Hi-Fi kit that we have come to expect. I have been using the MiniPods for a few weeks. Do they sound as good as they look though?

The Podspeaker brand might not sound familiar, but it’s been around since the early 90s. Its life starts with Danish manufacturer Scandyna and a collaboration with Hi-Fi veterans Bowers & Wilkins. In fact, it was Simon Ghahary and Lawrence Dickie, who were behind their design. Incidentally, these just happen to be the same guys who were also instrumental in the development of the well-known Nautilus series by Bowers & Wilkins.

The striking design really does catch the eye. If you agree, then you are in very good company as the MiniPod Podspeakers have even appeared in the New York MoMA Design Stores.

Podspeakers MiniPod design

minipod front and sideThe voluptuous shape is formed from injection molded ABS and is available in three colours. The ones I have been sent to review are matte red, but you can also get satin white or matte black.

I really do love how these look. Although they are modern they have a timeless classic style about them.

They are not as small as I thought they would be. However, measuring 210mm x 340mm x 200mm (WxHxD), they are about average for bookshelf speakers.

At the top you will find a 1-inch cloth cone tweeter with a 5.25-inch kevlar main driver taking up the mids and bass. Further low-end is produced by the front-firing air port.

Weight of the speakers are different as I have here one passive and one active with Bluetooth. The passive MiniPod tips the scales at 4.9kgs whereas the active speaker hits 5.6kgs.

Both speakers are fitted with regular speaker posts and, when sat on your desk or shelf are indistinguishable from each other. However, flip the MiniPod Bluetooth over and you’ll find an array of connectivity options.

minipod controlsHere you have AC Power input, USB input port, AUX-In (analogue, mini-jack) and OPT-In (toslink).

The Bluetooth active speaker also has a status light just below the bass port. This shows when it is on and which  connectivity option has been selected.

minipod tripod threadThe passive speaker is fitted with the standard tripod thread for mounting that way if you fancied.

Input source and volume is all controlled by the neat, bundled remote.

Furthermore, the Minipods are customisable. You can swap out the feet and the change the hoop around the bass driver in order to mix and match to suit their surroundings.

Podspeakers MiniPod BT and Passive performance

As well as their unusual styling, they also have different abilities depending on the combination of MiniPods you have. This actually makes them more flexible than standard loudspeakers.

For example, you can run two passive loudspeakers from your Hi-Fi amplifier. However you could also link a Bluetooth and a passive variant together in order to create a self-sufficient system. This is possible as the active loudspeaker has two 25 watt power stages. Furthermore, it even packs a subwoofer output for 2.1 shenanigans!

minipod side and bottomWhat if you want to go completely wireless though? Well, grab a pair of the MiniPod Bluetooth speakers and connect the two active MiniPods wirelessly. Nice.

I initially tested the MiniPod Bluetooth MK II and MiniPod MK IV pairing with my main system. These things are actually quite loud and love to be driven. The matte red fitted well with my living room’s red and white decor too. They would have looked even better there on some of the optional ‘Spikes’.

Audio is also clearer and better presented than I was expecting. However, it was with my PC system that these speakers were going to be tested most.

MiniPods in office system

minipod desktopMy PC system is what I spend a great deal of my life sat in front. Here are a pair of Q Acoustic 1010 speakers hooked up to a Musical Fidelity V90 stack of the amp, DAC and headphone amp.

I also have a pair of the Roth VA4 Bluetooth speakers which are used with the Elipson Alpha 100 RIAA BT turntable. My plan was/is to hook the Roths up to the MF stack but, I’ve actually had the 2 pairs stacked up on my desk.

The thing is that I get quite antsy about cable management. Also, having some good looking and sounding speakers that could take audio from my PC as well as Bluetooth-packing deck, would clear some desk space too.

Most of the time I’ll just select a Tidal playlist and hit shuffle. This enables me to get on with my work and know that, chances are, I won’t have to skip any tracks as these are playlists I’ve created.

If I’m feeling particularly saucy I might select albums from my NAS to play. The only downside is that some album tracks can be a tad, meh.

Music test

The first track to play on one of my randomised playlists was Chris Jones live playing ‘Soul Storm Comin’. Electro-acoustic guitar, vocals and harmonica. A great first track to test out the MiniPods.

At low volume it was a bit lackluster. But a few taps on the little black remote control and the song came alive. I have to add here that the speakers are connected to my PC directly by optical cable. There is no other DAC in the chain other than what’s in the MK II.

The harmonics played on the guitar are so lifelike. Also when the vocals go lower, the presentation is so rich.

minipod pairGrover Washington Jr’s ‘Winelight’ was up next and the instrument placement, even when using these speakers as near field monitors, is impressive. The groovy bassline sits near the back until the slap funk break where it steps up. Grover’s sax remains the star of the show though. However, it’s the keys, subtle guitar and percussion that are speaking to me the most.

A bit of David Bowie came up next. ‘Girl Who Loves Me’ from Bowie’s final album can prove taxing to poorly equipped speakers as there’s quite a lot going on. The claustrophobic mix of this track didn’t seem to confuse the MiniPods though.

To round things of, the ‘Young Dr Kirk’ from Boris Blank’s Electrified album and then The Prodigy’s ‘Diesel Power’. The electronica of Blank’s track is so well mixed that it really showed how good a range the MiniPods has. However, it was the dirty b-line of ‘Diesel Power’ that perhaps showed that, although taught and controlled, the MiniPods might lack a little bit of weight in the low end.

[amazon_link asins=’B01N2TTNRZ’ template=’ProductAd’ store=’gadgnews-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=”]So, hastily to one of my favourite bass test tracks, ‘The Package’ from A Perfect Circle’s Thirteenth Step album. Sure enough, the warm roundness of the bass line seems to have been removed. There does still seem to be some sub bass (the pictures on the wall rattled) but the audible thickness of the bass was not there. Perhaps this is why they have a sub out?
 
There is also a chance that the speakers haven’t quite loosened up yet. They have about 30 hours on them so far, I would estimate.
 
Pressing the Bluetooth pair button flicks you between the EQ modes: Optimal->FLAT->Boost. However, during the review, I left it at the default setting, Optimal.

Podspeakers MiniPod review conclusion

The MiniPods certainly make a statement in any room they are placed. I really like how they look, but I also realise those that tend to favour boxes but take some convincing.

They sound good, if a little lacking in rich bass, and are really punchy. I reckon pairing these with a decent sub and you’ll have quite a package. That said, listening to them in my office, I really do enjoy them.

MiniPod price and availability

The Podspeakers MiniPods are available to buy now.

The Bluetooth MKII costs 549,00 and the Passive MKIV retails at 369 direct from Podspeakers.co.

Amazon has them at £231 for the passive.

Technical data at a glance

  • Shape 2 way reflex, abs cabinet.
  • Applications stereo arrangement, AV, 5.1, multi media and web, near field monitoring for studios.
  • Frequency Range: (± 3 dB): 58Hz – 22.000Hz
  • Frequency Range: (± 6 dB): 48Hz – 22.000Hz
  • Sensivity: 86 dB
  • Nominal Impedance: 6 Ohm
  • Sound compatible with amplifiers from 10w – 100w output.
  • Drive units one 5-inch long throw bass/midrange feat. Kevlar piston and 25mm (1-inch) diameter free-mounted high frequency.
  • Dimensions
  • Width: 210mm.
  • Height: 340mm, 440mm with spikes.
  • Depth: 200mm.

Podspeakers Minipods Bluetooth and Passive speakers review

by Jay Garrett time to read: 6 min
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