MINIRIG 3 - An audiophile's portable speaker

For those of you who are seeking good audio whilst on the move, perhaps check out the Minirig 3.

I just received one a couple of days ago and my jaw has planted firmly on the floor since.

The Minirig 3 is a non-descript cyinder around 100mm dia x 75mm high and has a single 70mm driver and an alleged 40w of RMS power, and 100hrs of battery life if used sparingly. One can also use 2 as a stereo pair and there’s a subwoofer option. It’s quite a hefty price at 140quid a pop.

I’d had my eye on one for a long while and read excellent things about it, but I was sceptical.

My main worry were, could a minirig be “that” good with only 1 small driver and in such a small enclosure? I’d enjoyed a Riva Turbo immensely until a year or so back when the battery fail on my 5 year old unit.

I’m a stickler for good sound as most are on these pages :slight_smile: and have a range of home speakers up to a decent level (Adam Audio, Kef, etc), and a range of DACs and decent DAPs and IEM’s and headphones. I’m not averse to a bit of critical listening.

I received the Minirig 3 yesterday and am simply blown away by the sound quality. This review is about the sound.

How to describe the sound of the M3…It’s literally like taking the treble, midrange and upper bass out of a decent full sized speaker and holding it your hand.

Will get another one for Xmas so I can have stereo. An absolute must, although one speaker pumps out the most remarkable sound which is entirely captivating.

Notably, this is a very fast speaker, with little or no overhang or bass bloat. It’s accurate, and very responsive, to sudden changes in dynamics.

Transients are just lighteningly quick, which means that there’s very little congestion in complex music even in mono. Timbre of acoustic instruments is great and the bass goes decidely deep for such a small box. On Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car there’s a bass guitar note at the start which is usually a whisper on bluetooth speakers but the Minirig will play that quite OK, a few DB’s down of course, but it plays it, and with definition. Moreover, generally, bass lines are tuneful as well as defined; it’s not a one-note bass.

Midrange as expected, is the defining feature. Vocals are very impressive as are guitars, acoustic and electric. There’s a definition within the notes which is unexpected. There’s texture to the notes themselves. Well recorded drums are brilliant. There’s a section at the beginning of the 2nd track of Billy Cobham’s Spectrum which has some amazing solo drumming leading into a very rhythmic track and the Minirig handles this as well as anything I’ve heard (on a small scale): timbre, definition, dynamics and rhythm and pace(PRAT) are all there.

Although this little marvel will go loud, it is just fine at low volumes. The sense ability, balance and accuracy are all there at lower levels which makes it a brilliant speaker for more intimate, perhaps late night sessions when you don’t want to raise the roof, or perhaps if you have to keep the volume down for neighbours etc. eg. I’m quite happy listening now at 71/120 on my Fiio M11 playing APTX out to the Minirig on low gain. In fact it can get a bit annoying having all that information firing in your face if you crank it up. Listening at higher volumes, rather like a big speaker setup, needs some space, and the M3 is no exception. The minirig sounds really good at about 10ft (3m) distance at higher volumes. Indeed, if I close my eyes and listen to some well-recorded music, the M3 disappears acoustically as any very good speaker should. It’s that good.

The unit is designed to be upward firing, that’s clear, but I find on-axis is clearer, more “referenence” sounding. The great zip-bag which comes with the unit can act as a speaker-stand for this, which is a nice touch.

Overall, I can’t recommend this enough to anyone who is seeking accuracy and definition. This is definitely NOT the standard boom-box, biggest bang for buck, speaker and some customers will be disillusioned or confused when they hear it, having been weaned on such muddy-sounding devices. People may confuse accuracy with a lean sound. I will add that I think the moniker of loudest small speaker is a bit of a misnomer. I think it detracts from the real strength of the Minirig 3 which is it’s almost audiophile potential. Put it on top of a “real” speaker and compare directly from a distance and the M3 will hold its own quite well which is no mean feat for a thing the size of a coffee cup.

The Minirig 3 is a speaker which has me going through my collection to see how things sound with fresh ears and insight. It’s that sort of speaker.

I just can’t wait to get a 2nd one for stereo :slight_smile:

ps…I’ve just set the Minirig 3 up against a single ADAM A5X and the M3, I would say, is comparable, if leaner sounding to the far larger A5X. There is extra bass weight with the A5X That the Minirig can’t compete with, but it’s not an awful difference, and the Minirig, dare I say it, is actually better in the mids? That this comparison is viable at all is just jaw dropping.

This is truly an exceptional device for its size (and price).

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I’d be curious to hear how it compares to the Bose Soundlink Revolve, which is what I’ve been using for very satisfying outdoor sound.

I have not heard the soundlink other than in brief dems in shops which don’t count for much, but I’m pretty sure it’s an excellent device too. I’ve heard some great B&W options too.

What I do know is that this little thing is entirely captivating. For me it goes way beyod its intended remit of being a great speaker you can plonk down and gives out some great audio (which was what I was buying it for in fact; just that, and I was sceptical even that it could do that) and into the the territory of “I must sit down at all opportunities and listen to this, digging deep into my music collection, and really concentrate on what I’m listening to and enjoy the music to the full”. I’ve not had that often with proper hifi and never with a portable speaker. Now it’s in a thing the size of my fist, listening in mono, i mean, really, what’s going on?

To get a taste of what a pair of minirig 3’s can do check this out with a good set of cans or iems on. It’s not a bad indication, considering its a miked setup playing through utube.

and for the whole review…

Z’s reviews are what sold me. He alludes to the fact that minirig allows you to play with sound alot, which is true. I haven’t put this down since I got it a few days ago. It’s made me laugh and cry for joy at times with its brilliance and musical insight.

The Minirig is designed to be upfiring as an allround device, but my personal experience for best sound has been to sit holding it in my hands facing me. It has the ability to create a one dimensional soundstage with separation and, if I’m not mad, a sense of depth. I think it’s due to the very high quality driver which seems quite long throw and very quick/light. Last three nights Ive just been sitting on the couch for a couple of hours picking out tracks and devouring them like this. It’s truly fascinating.

To give an example, I was listening to Brothers In Arms last night, like an idiot in the kitchen, listening deep into the mix and never noticed a sort of wood block note every 5 or so seconds in the percussive background later in the track which is in syncopation with the rest of the mix, this was made so clear with the Minirig, I was in awe that I was noticing stuff never heard before.

I’m using it wired with line output from a Fiio M11 for such listening. It seems to give me the best sound and control (so far). I am desperate to get the 2nd one for stereo paring. The soundstage it could create with proper siting must be amazing. I’m keen to make a pair of stands for them also, I have some ideas.

I would say there are probably better speakers for general purpose use but for critical listening, a personal hifi setup, which is battery powered, I don’t think there’d be anything to match this.

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