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Minipod 5.1 Home Theater Speaker System Review

Is it a speaker or a conversation piece? When you first see the minipod speakers, you can’t be so sure. Well, of course they are speakers. The minipods offer contemporary styling and exceptional clarity in a compact speaker system which doesn’t look like a normal boxed speaker.

Cool, colorful speakers
When I first saw pictures of the minipods, I thought what a cool looking speaker. When my girlfriend saw them she loved the way they looked, and affectionately called them “little cute telletubbies”. We chose to get them in red, however they are available in 10 different colors.

Small and stylish
The shiny red speakers arrived in perfect condition — 4 minipods (mains and surrounds), 1 cinepod (center speaker) and 1 bass station. I initially thought the speakers were larger, but they really are small bookshelf sized speakers just over a foot tall. Please note these speakers should be placed on 26″-43″ stands or shelves and should not be placed on the floor. The minipods were also much lighter than I had expected, weighing only 5.5 lbs (2.37Kg). They come with three sputnik metal spikes, which basically provide an elevated 4-inch stand and add to the speakers futuristic, George Jetson cartoon-like appearance. The egg-shaped bass station is small in comparison to most subwoofers, and it resembles an old fashion outdoor charcoal grill. It features a 10-inch upward firing subwoofer and an internal 75-watt amplifier.

Odd connectors
Both the minipods/cinepods have less common spring loaded speaker wire binding posts, which will accept heavy guage (thick) bare wire, banana plugs or pin connectors. The cinepod has dual inputs for bi-wiring/amping, however the speaker terminals are so close together only bare wire can be securely connected and wedged into place.

4 ohm considerations
Both speakers are rated at 4 ohms / 90db sensitivity. However, even the budget priced Yamaha RX-V740 receiver had no problem powering the pods. The minipods are recommended to be used with amps rated 10-100 watt RMS. But I witnessed no problems from using a 200-watt per channel Sherbourn amp. The minipods seemed to utilize all the power they could get, revealing even more depth and dynamics. However, you still want to make sure your amp/receiver can handle a 4 ohm load without overheating.

Center speaker shines
Finally the most important part of any speaker system, the sound quality. I was continually amazed how well this system sounded for music and non-action movies. The cinepod center speaker offered exceptional detail and transparency with voices and musical segments. You don’t realize how much you are missing from a weak center speaker, until you hear a good one. The cinepod is just that! At $399, it is well worth the cost and one of the best I have heard at this price point. It almost made me wonder how a system of 5, or even 7 cinepods would sound together.

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Sweet sounding music
The minipods are nothing to scoff at either. They feature a single 5″ kevlar cone and 1″ neodymium tweeter, while the cinepod benefits from two 5″ kevlar cones. As main speakers (left/right), the minipods provided pin-point imaging, while maintaining a huge soundstage for stereo music. I was especially impressed how well they sounded for their size. The midrange was clean, tight, crisp and dare I say quick. The sound gave off an airy, relaxing quality I found quite pleasing while listening to Dave Brubeck and Dave Matthews. Although, you still need a subwoofer to complement the low-end bass.

No boom
The bass station is unfortunately the weakest part of the Minipod system. It doesn’t distort or draw attention to itself, but it just can’t create deep bass. To its credit, the bass is quick and tight and thankfully not boomy, even though I had it cranked almost all the way up. It is better suited for music listening and small rooms. I suppose your neighbors may thank you, but you will miss out room rocking explosions from movies and the pulsating beat from techno, hip-hop or rap music. Maybe I am overly critical of such a small subwoofer, with just a paltry 75-watt amp. At an MSRP of $699 you can find comparably priced subs that will do a much better job.

Surrounded by pods
Using direct radiating surround speakers, such as the minipods, ultimately comes down to personal preference. I find direct radiating speakers often sound better for multi-channel DVD-Audio or SACD. Although, for movies it is a toss-up and depends on the speakers and placement. I had the surround minipods placed at the sides of my 16-foot wide room on 48-inch stands. The minipods again performed well as spacious sounding, detailed surrounds, which also exceeded my expectations.

Identical speaker recommendation
The best part about using the same speakers as mains and surrounds, is that front to rear sound effects maintain the same timbre and tonal accuracy. This creates a seamless surround effect, which is much harder to equalize/calibrate with different types of speakers. Using different speaker brands even further complicates matters and usually leads to less realistic sound. This is just a couple of the reasons why I am a big advocate for using identical speakers for all channels, especially when the installation calls for small sized speakers.

Package it up
You could purchase 5 minipods ($250 each) as I have suggested above, however the cinepod ($399 each) is so good as a center speaker, it is worth the extra $149. The total package price of the system with bass station (subwoofer) I tested is priced at $1,899. All speakers can be purchased individually, so you can buy as many as you need. Therefore, you don’t have to purchase the bass station. Then again, they come with a 30-day money back guarantee so if you don’t like it you can always return it.

Flaunt your style
The bottom line is you have to like the look of these speakers to buy them. If so, you can have a home theater speaker system that doesn’t take up much space that looks and sounds incredible. Finally, style conscious consumers have a unique alternative to traditional speakers. So, if you need to replace the speakers your wife (or significant other) can’t stand, these could be the ticket. Just make sure you choose the right color. You will definitely want to show these off!

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Pros

  • Style and contemporary design
  • Excellent sound
  • Spacious soundstage
  • Pin-point accuracy
  • Detailed midrange and highs
  • Perfect timbre match for all channels
  • Center speaker detail

Cons

  • Subwoofer lacks low-end bass
  • Spring loaded speaker connection posts
  • Speaker grills extra

Availability
All podspeakers are now available at amazon.co.uk.

Test Equipment:
Sherbourn PT-7000 Preamplifier & 7/2100 Amplifier
Yamaha RX-V740 Receiver
Yamaha DVD-C920 Five Disc DVD Changer
Better Cables Audio/Video Cables
Eighth Nerve Acoustic Room Treatments
AVIA Guide to Home Theater Calibration DVD

Remember I am just one man with one opinion. If you own this product, or have a comment or question feel free to add your thoughts below.

Brian Mitchell
Founder & CEO
eCoustics.com

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