With many people working from home, it is a time when you can enjoy some of the benefits of working from your own home for some personal expression. And, aside from casual clothing, another way to express your personal freedom in your own home office is listening to music. While some people have been forced to wear headphones in the work office, they can now freely listen to music throughout the office. I had the opportunity to test a premium compact, powered speaker that had excellent sound, but still in a portable size. I ran it though an array of music and tried it in different rooms in my house.

The BlueSound Mini 2i feels relatively heavy for its compact size and yet it delivers room filling sound. I compared this speaker in various rooms in my house and the speaker filled each room with crisp and pleasing sound. This is a premium compact speaker with a price tag of $499 (USD), which is considerably more than the popular smart speakers like Amazon Echo Studio ($199) and the Apple Homepod ($299). Sonos may be the most direct comparison and both companies offer similar features, but I did not have a Sonos speaker, like the Five, to compare with. The look of the speaker is functional and tasteful. It fit in nicely in the office.

As the name might imply BlueSound does supports Bluetooth, but the primary connection to streaming services is through Wi-Fi. The unit is controlled by a smartphone app as many modern intelligent home devices are. The company does offer the RC1 remote control if more manual controls are required and there are some basic manual controls on the top of the speaker. I tested using Amazon Prime Music HD service. I also tested by connecting this Bluetooth speaker to my Sony Walkman digital player.

With the speaker’s BluOS application I can control the Mini 2i, selecting from my music service (Amazon Music HD) or Bluetooth devices (Sony). I can control it with an Alexa skill, but the Mini 2i is not a smart speaker. The Bluetooth connection for the Mini 2i uses the Qualcomm AptX codec to Sony Model NW-A55 music player. AptX is one of the best Bluetooth codecs you can use for high quality sound.

All of my music on the Sony music player are high quality FLAC rips from our CD collection, but the most convenient way to listen to high quality music is with the Amazon Music HD streaming service.

Comparison To Other Speakers

I do not have an exhaustive array to speakers but I compared the Mini 2i with various types of speakers around the house. Luckily the Mini 2i is very transportable, with a convenient recess in the top that makes it easy to hold. I compared it with the Amazon Echo Studio in our bedroom. The Echo Studio lacked the crisp bass of the Mini 2i. Additionally, stereo separation was not as good as the Mini 2i, and vocals sounded clear but not full. For example, I found that with the 2016 remastered Phil Collins In the Air Tonight his voice in the Echo Studio sounded thin, while the Mini 2i had a lot more depth.

In my office, I have an Amazon Echo Link connected to a Harman/Kardon analog AV receiver with a pair of KEF bookshelf speakers mounted to the wall and a Velodyne 12-inch sub-woofer. This setup is harder to control and not optimal, but the Velodyne does deliver more bass. The Mini 2i excelled with tracks that featured singers but could not compete with the Velodyne for bass. BlueSound does offer a sub-woofer, but it seems designed for home theater use.

As previously mentioned, for streaming music, I used my Amazon Music HD music and connected via WiFi to maximize bit rate.

I have a lot of remastered versions of classic rock songs on my Amazon Music. For example, King Crimson In The Court of the Crimson King sounded fresh with great sonic density and crisp drums. The classic Kraftwerk Autobahn exhibited a pristine sound. Another old rock track remastered was Hocus Pocus by Focus which still had such great crunchy guitar work and nice clear yodeling. The Mini 2i really made these classic songs sound fresh and new.

The jazz music on the Amazon Music station exhibited a nice intimate feel. For more modern music, Billie Eilish song Bad Guy has nice voice presence and enough thump on the bass lines (although here a subwoofer would have helped). The more mellow music like on Jack Johnson’s In Between Dream album pop with great vocals presence like on Better Together. The sound of classic Steely Dan was well balanced.

A more aggressive sound is Super Soul Bros’ Stritches Brew and the speaker handled it well. I particularly like the Mini 2i for vocal driven music like Johnny Cash’s Hurt and The Man Comes Around and Suzanne Vega’s Tom Diner (acapella version), which all sounded clean, full and clear.

In my living room/great room the volume could fill the room without distortion. The lack of a subwoofer was apparent though when compared with my LG soundbar with a subwoofer. Music like Suzanne Vega’s Tom Diner (acapella version) really shined still. For hard rock, like Metallica Enter Sandman, there was plenty of range and power, but I didn’t crank it up in deference to my neighbors.

I did feel less than enthused about orchestral music on the Mini 2i – there seemed some depth and range missing. Any kind of house music went well with the Mini 2i, unless you wanted very deep bass.

Conclusion

Every once in a while, I get an audio product to review and in the past I’ve had the opportunity to test headphones (with more to come soon), a Moog synthesizer, and I’m in the process of testing a portable headphone amplifier, but this speaker was particularly rewarding to test. I didn’t want to stop listening to this speaker – as you can tell by all the music I tested it on. The clean crisp sound was a pleasure to listen to. There was great presence and stereo imaging from a relatively small speaker.

MORE FROM FORBESHands On Sennheiser Classic HD 25 Headphones

If I had to nitpick, I prefer the Mini 2i would power down to a lower-power sleep state when not playing music, even at the expense of a bit more time to activate. It draws a nominal 5W when in active standby. For some music, you may miss the deeper bass, but for its size, the sound is exceptional.

The portability of the Mini 2i meant it was easy to take around the house, but it is AC power – no batteries. And it is bulky enough that I would not pack it in my suitcase for a vacation. There is the question of the $499 price point when so many smart speakers cost less money. That is a value decision – how much is better sound worth to you?

Note: BlueSound loaned me the Mini 2i to try out. I was not paid for this review.

Source Article