Most portable speakers offer an audio experience that can be about as aurally rousing as slipping a pair of underpants over your head. Muffled, distorted, not suitable for public eye - or ears - and, well, just a bit silly really. Assuming that's not your kind of thing, and we really hope it's not, then there are better options out there. The Pasce Minirig is a mini industrial-looking cylinder speaker which has the aim of delivering big sound for a relatively small price. But is it any good?
The Minirig is available for £89 which is one of its significant selling points. That's less than many pairs of current headphones, but has a wider, more social use - whether at picnics, parties in the park, festivals and so forth. Or, as desk-on-the-go workers we've used it as a portable speaker system laptop side and when away working.
While we agree there are few things more annoying than a "yoot" on public transport belting out tinny pseudo hip-hop - we're all about the golden era thanks - from their godawful smartphone, it's more the crushed-to-bits pots-and-pans sound that's the irritation. The Minirig has no such issues. Far from being an irksome devil, instead it delivers some significant punch for its price point. It's really rather loud.
Loud and proud
Not only is the Minirig's 3-inch driver powerful, it sounds rather good to the ears too. Now don't anticipate audible perfection by any means, but for under ninety quid it's a triumph. Crank the volume right up and there's some subtle distortion but, still, it gives music plenty of welly without any crunches to a serious level of volume.
The speaker is designed to launch audio upwards through its coarse mesh top, so by the nature of the way it sits the best listening experience comes from being fairly direct line of fire. If not there's a more muted sensation - you'll notice it when standing up, sitting down or wandering around a room that the Minirig fills certain positions better than other.
While ultra-low-frequencies aren't quite catered for, there's still some presence of bass from the 100Hz-20kHz frequency range, enough to pump out some rumbles to whichever surface the 'Rig is sat on. If you want more then there's a Minirig subwoofer that Pasce has confirmed to Pocket-lint will be available from summer 2013, with an approximate price around the £150 mark.
The Minirig also dishes out suitable top-end sparkle, although the overall sound does feel a little central and almost compressed overall. But we're being critical here - crank the Minirig up and you won't quite believe that this little cylinder delivers such big sound for under £100. That's the crux of it - it's quality for the price.
Charge and go
Plug in the Brit-made speaker - yup, this one's not shipped half way around the world, so wave those Union flags one and all - via USB to charge its interior battery and it'll last for up to an alleged 60 hours depending on the volume. We've been using it over a week and it's held up very well indeed.
There are two 3.5mm jack inputs, equivalent of phono and auxiliary ports as the former will further amplify the sound from quieter sources. We've run sound out from smartphones, laptops and found the included cable has held up well.
But here's a point that many tech savvy users will be wondering: why no wireless connectivity? The Minirig is all about the hard-wired connections which, while fine enough, might not scream and shout in the most current "this is 2013" kind of way. However if it was a wireless system then it would not only cost more but it would also eat away at the battery life at a faster rate. Minirig does a fine job just as it is.
One feature we were unable to test was the Minirig's daisy-chain connectivity. It's possible to string multiple 'Rigs together for stereo support. A splitter cable is all that's required. Sure lives up to its name then - a true modular, riggable system.
The Minirig's industrial-like design is functional, and while that minimal look may not suit all, we can't argue with the hard-as-nails aluminium build quality. In fact we can't argue with much else; we have few qualms about the Minirig.
It's really loud, pumps out good audio quality considering the £89 price point and will be the perfect accompaniment to this Pocket-linter's summer festival jaunts. There's no excuse to not pack it considering it weighs a mere 426g and is small at roughly 10cm in each direction.
There may not be wireless connectivity, but take it for what it is as the Minirig is the best budget portable speaker we've wrapped our ears around. It's quality for the amount of money.