X-mini’s latest foray into the portable audio scene includes a slew of products for every budget and every need – including the mass-premium bracket. Yet this is a landscape that X-mini is not known to tread. Does the X-mini SUPA have any of the proverbial brains and brawns to take on its competition? Let’s find out!
Build Quality and Design
The SUPA’s edginess kind of harks back to the vintage Japanese radios that were prevalent the 80s (without the gaudy chrome). Like its siblings, the SUPA’s constructed in aluminium, and sports a solid front grill and a swivel dial on top.
The power button, MicroUSB, 3.5mm Mini Jack and the Micro SD Card reader slot is accessed from the back, keeping them out of sight till you need them. That one swivel dial will take care of skipping tracks, pause/play and volume – making the music controls a simple affair.
As far as its design goes, I wouldn’t call it ‘sleek’ or ‘stylish’, but it certainly is functional, the way Sony’s original WALKMAN was. The SUPA might actually make a decent travelling speaker. It may look like a brick but it’s far from heavy, weighing at a paltry 960g!
Performance and Features
So far, the speaker has managed to avoid some cardinal sins here. Calling up ‘7 Years’ from Grammy Award-winning Lukas Graham, his coarse vocals sounded fairly bright and crisp; while the SUPA tackled the youthful radiance and punchy tempo from Meghan Trainor’s ‘Me Too’ with clarity and flair. The SUPA could also manage some degree of stereo separation despite its compact size.
Its mid-register vocals (in the 512Hz region) may sound a tad muffled at times (especially when the speaker is played very loud), but as a whole, the SUPA sounded nearly as balanced and dynamic as its competitors. But, as with most speakers of its size, the SUPA will distort heavily at higher volume levels.
TIP: The SUPA packs two audio modes here to tackle various placement options – either enhanced Treble or Bass modes. Bass mode offers (nearly) as much oomph as competitors with passive radiators when you place the SUPA on an open surface. Slotting the SUPA in a shelf? You’ll need to toggle Treble mode to negate any unruly bass bloat that may result from your shelf’s internal resonance.
Overall the SUPA had such decent volume, clarity and dynamics for its class that I didn’t mind letting it pipe all day. And all day it can! Its advertised battery life of 8 hours is modest compared to the 19 hours that I actually got – way beyond its stated reading! (As per standard practice, I got that while having the speaker loop various albums at 50% volume.)
From a brand that makes budget speakers, should we expect anything more than unreliable Bluetooth? Not here! The SUPA’s Bluetooth 4.2 connection is excellent in range and reliability. It could stay tethered, even beyond the standard 10 meters! It never dropped its link with my phone, nor was I plagued by AV syncing issues. Nice!
The X-mini SUPA’s price of S$209.90 is obviously a competitive advantage against staples like the UE BOOM 2 and the JBL Charge 3. The lower price point is completely justified here given its basic functions, lack of weatherproofing and very plain looks. But if we take into account the SUPA’s best-in-class battery, decent audio performance and very reliable Bluetooth, what we’re seeing is a worthy contender for our dough.