Provides: High fidelity wireless audio from your computer, iPod audio/charging
Developer: Digital Signature, Inc.
Minimum Requirements: USB port for wireless streaming from computer, Dock compatible iPod for direct connection/charging, headphone/line-out for connection of other audio devices
Retail Price: $179.99
Availability: Out now
Reviewing speaker systems is a bit tricky for me for two reasons. First, I know little about the science of sound. Numbers and fancy symbols and awkward abbreviations mean as much to me now as they did when I wasn’t paying attention in junior high science class. I’ll display all those numbers and abbreviations later in this review, but it’s up to you to decipher them.
Second, although I can tell you whether something sounds good and why, I can’t tell you how good it sounds compared to the competition. At the electronics stores, I can sample four or five systems next to each other, determine what I like best, and make my purchase. Here, I’ve just got one unit standing alone, doing its thing, and I have to judge it on that alone.
I can tell you, though, that the Mint 220 wireless speaker system, does its thing very, very well.
This bookshelf system from Digital Signature, Inc. measures about 12″ long, 7″ deep and 4.3″ high. The gloss black finish looks great sitting amongst your books, CDs or DVDs on a bookshelf, but I was quite happy with it resting on my computer desk, as well. The two 3.5″ full-range speakers frame an iPod dock that accommodates most Dock compatible iPods, and charges them when they’re hooked up. The benefit here, obviously, is that you can play your iPod directly through the speakers, bypassing the need for a computer.
With this set-up, the included remote gives you some ability to control the iPod. You can pause, play, stop, fast forward and rewind, but you can’t cycle through your music. This isn’t a problem if you’re on your own near the system, but if the Mint 220 is supplying the music for a party or other such event, you’ll want to have your playlist set up ahead of time.
The press kit that came with my review unit stated that specific iPod adapters are available for the Mint 220’s universal iPod dock, but there were none in nor mentioned on the box, and there’s nothing about them on the website. Perhaps they mean that Apple’s adapters fit, but I didn’t have any around to test this theory. Without them, the Dock connector is the only support for your iPod, so be careful. On the plus side, the Mint 220’s dock was wide enough that I could connect my iPod classic without having to first remove it from the case.
Even with the iPod connected, you can use the remote to cycle through the speaker system’s three inputs: iPod, line in and wireless. If you’re near the system and don’t want to bother with the remote, there’s an input button next to the power button on the left of the dock (volume buttons are on the right).
Using the line in option, you can connect any device with a line out or headphone jack. This is great for iPods that aren’t Dock compatible, but I actually tested it with my Nintendo DS. Man. What a difference that makes beyond the DS’s built-in speakers. Impressed by this, I ran an 1/8″ patch chord from my iPod’s headphone jack to the Mint 220 to play the iPod games, and was surprised by the sound there, too. It’s maybe not practical if you have your speaker system sitting anywhere other than on a coffee table or computer desk, but it does show off the Mint 220’s capabilities to handle bass-heavy gaming audio.
This can also be illustrated when using the wireless connection. To stream any audio from your Mac to the Mint 220 is a simple matter of plugging the included USB Transmitter into a USB port, opening Sound in your System Preferences, and selecting Mint Wireless USB Audio in the Output tab. You’ll have to switch this back if you want to go back to your Mac’s speakers or headphones, but that’s no big deal. The wireless USB unit has a range of 45 feet (I didn’t test this beyond about 20) and an operating frequency of 2.4 GHz unlicensed ISM band.
Now, how does all of this sound? Full. When I first set it up at the office and started to turn it up, we were all pretty impressed with how well the sound filled up the room. It’s a little heavy on the high end, but the included EQ (turned on and off via the remote, and not adjustable) helped. Plus, the sound seemed to get better the louder we turned it up. This makes the system perfect for placement in large rooms where you’ll have plenty of activity, but not so practical for office settings. This is fine, though, because you wouldn’t want to use the Mint 220 for computer audio; the speakers aren’t detachable, after all, so they’d both have to rest to the right or left of your monitor, keeping the audio off center. Best to set it up away from the listener, allowing the audio to just fill up the room.
Now, I promised audio specifications. Here you go:
- 2 channel class-D high efficiency amplifier
- Total 30W RMS at 8 ohm
- Digital equalization
- Two 3.5″ full range speakers
- Frequency range: 60 Hz – 26 KHz
Overall, I’m quite pleased with the Mint 220 Digital Speaker System. It gets great sound at higher volumes, and the ability to both stream audio wirelessly from your computer and to completely bypass the computer when playing from your iPod is great. I think the price is a bit high (I’d like to see the unit sell for around $149), but you can get the same unit minus the wireless capabilities for only $119.99 with the Mint 200. Are there better sounding speaker systems out there? Maybe, but when you jack up the volume of the Mint 220 at your next house party, neither you nor your guests will be thinking about them.