1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

    Dismiss Notice

Generic Original Xiaomi Square Box Stereo Wireless Bluetooth Speaker for Apple Phones, Xiaomi Mi Pad, all Xiaomi Mobile Phones, etc(Black)

Rating:
4.5/5,
  1. HiFiChris
    Xiaomi Mi Square Box Bluetooth Speaker Black: Powerful Sound in a Tiny Elegant Package
    Written by HiFiChris
    Published Nov 4, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - value, sound quality for the price & size, tonal balance, multi-functional button, premium design & build, small footprint, used materials
    Cons - general limitations of speakers of this type (e.g. no soundstage), no inputs and buttons besides Bluetooth and a multi-functional power button
    IMG_20161020_2145282-2.jpg
     

     ​
     
     
     
     
    Preamble:

    Wireless/portable/small all-in-one speakers have really experienced a boom in the past few years. It all started with (mainly stationary) speakers with integrated 30-pin docks for Apple’s iDevices and evolved to truly portable and wireless and even more premium and rather stationary devices that are now mainly connected to the source device using Bluetooth.
    I really was looking for one of those speakers some years ago – precisely speaking, I was looking for a 30-pin docking speaker for use at home to replace a small bookshelf stereo system (the small semi-portable speakers were never meant to replace my main system with the Swans M1 speakers (that I have meanwhile more or less abandoned though)). So I tested many models in the price range between €200 and €1000, however I came to the conclusion that a small two- or three-component stereo system with dedicated speakers was obviously performing better than the docking speakers (there were only two large models around €1000 that could halfway convince me and the rest quite badly failed my personal standards – maybe I just had too high expectations though).
    Now some years have gone since then and not only the DSP integration has improved but the 30-pin connector has been abandoned in favour of a fully wireless experience, including the fact that there are now so many more wireless speakers than some years ago (when I was looking for one about six years ago, there were only two battery-driven devices on the market), shifting the focus from a semi-stationary to a portable field use for those speakers.
    And while those speakers are not really meant to replace a small bookshelf stereo system, they can indeed be useful (on holidays, while traveling or in the garden).

    Also the budget range seems to have improved since then, as there are some models that sound acceptable and will at least improve the sound and extension of a smartphone, tablet or laptop computer.
    The Chinese smartphone and electronic device manufacturer Xiaomi has also got a really inexpensive portable Bluetooth speaker in their product portfolio (http://www.gearbest.com/speakers/pp_259606.html), and I will take a closer look and listen at it in this review. On the Xiaomi Mi website, it is listed as “Xiaomi Mi Square Box Bluetooth Speaker Black”.


    Before I go on, I want to thank George from GearBest for providing me with a sample of the Xiaomi Bluetooth speaker (after telling him that I am really interested in it) free of charge for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.


    Technical Specifications:

    Price: $19.97 (http://www.gearbest.com/speakers/pp_259606.html)
    Power Output: 2.5 W x2
    S/N: 80 dB
    Bluetooth Version: 4.0 + EDR
    Bluetooth Protocol: A2DP, AVRCP
    Battery: 1200 mAh, up to 10 hours play time


    Delivery Content:

    You don’t get more than a simple white cardboard box that solely contains the speaker as well as some writing in Chinese. A charging cable is not included.
     

    IMG_2214.jpg   IMG_2217.jpg

     

     
    Looks, Feels, Build Quality:

    You wouldn’t really believe that the speaker costs this little by looking at it – its chassis/frame is made of solid aluminium with shiny deburred edges and sturdy plastic covers on the front and back along with a nice honeycomb pattern (the front is a speaker grille whereas the rear is just a cover). There is also an unobtrusive “Mi” Logo on the front. On the bottom, there are two rubber feet.
    I would indeed say that I really like the plain, elegant and premium looks of this speaker.
     

    IMG_2218.jpg   IMG_2219.jpg
    IMG_2221.jpg   IMG_2222.jpg
    IMG_2223.jpg   IMG_2224.jpg

     
     
    By the way, the speaker is also really small and pocket-friendly with about the dimensions of the iPhone 5 (which is only a bit shorter) and just slightly more than the thickness of the iBasso DX80 with installed DIGNIS leather case.
     

    IMG_2226.jpg   IMG_2228.jpg

     

     
    Buttons, Connections, Features:

    The speaker is very simple and besides a micro USB charging port, a status LED and a small multi-functional button, there is really nothing – no AUX input, and no volume buttons either.
    A long press on the single button turns the speaker on, followed by a powerful uplift jingle, and automatically sets it into pairing mode, so you can directly connect a Bluetooth source to it (followed by a short beep). The Xiaomi Mi speaker does by the way not support automatic connection. Another long press on the button turns the speaker off, followed by a down-lift jingle.
    What is quite nice is that a short press on the button acts as a remote play/pause command together with the source device.
     

    IMG_2220.jpg   IMG_2227.jpg



    Sound:

    Wireless source devices used for the test were the Hidizs AP60 as well as my Asus Google Nexus 7 2nd generation and Apple iPhone 4.

    It is really not a given thing that a speaker of this size can output a true stereo signal or has got a passive radiator to extend the lower note range – however the Xiaomi really has two separate speakers to (try to) create a stereo sound and an oval passive radiator that is sitting right between them.

    Out of the Nexus tablet, the Xiaomi speaker is really loud and powerful with quiet listening being impossible, however out of the iPhone it features a fine-grained volume control and the ability to listen at low volume levels. With the AP60, the volume-control is fine-grained too and low volume listening is also possible, however there are occasional short drop-outs and the pause-feature doesn’t work through the multi-functional button. Connection stability is however excellent with the iPhone and Nexus tablet and the speaker doesn’t hiss even when nothing is playing and one is less than the length of a hand away from it (only when it is held directly to one’s ears, there is some very faint hissing).

    Tonality:

    The speaker’s sound is natural and very well balanced overall and despite the size, vocals do not sound hollow or canny at all.
    The amount of bass will depend on the surface and surrounding of the speaker (just as with every speaker) – playing with not much behind and to the sides of the speaker and in free-air, it sounds really balanced and just with a probably slight boost in the lower root. Vocals are only slightly on the warmer side however without a disadvantage for female vocals that still sound clear and clean.

    Xiaomi and their parent companies have already positively surprised me with some of their headphones, and this speaker is definitely no exception and I am really surprised about the tonal balance and quite good evenness in the sound despite the small price tag.

    Listening to sine sweeps (in free-air), I can hear an overall pretty neutral and flat treble with a slight dip in the upper mids between 1 and 2 kHz. I can also hear a very slight emphasis between 400 and 150 Hz with the climax being at 200 Hz. The speaker does really well down to 70 Hz and I guess that the -6 dB point is at ca. 90 Hz. For a speaker of this small size, this is quite remarkable, and the passive radiator (and probably some DSP technology that could be involved, but I am not 100% sure whether or not there really is already a DSP built into a speaker in this price range) does a great job getting a good lows’ extension out of the limited inner volume.

    Resolution:

    One should of course not expect the Xiaomi to perform like a large portable speaker in the three-digit price range with separated midrange drivers, a woofer and tweeters, but given the size, price and that there are only two small fullrange speakers with one passive radiator, it is quite remarkable what is coming out from behind of the honeycomb-shaped plastic grille.
    The amount of details doesn’t reach audiophile levels and doesn’t precisely unveil the tiniest micro details (which is not really not that surprising though) but the bass stays well behaved and is quite clean and fast with good control, and the mids sound reasonably detailed and speech intelligibility is good, too. The overall sound is really clean and nothing I would have expected below $50. If something, then I wouldn’t mind a slightly better separation of the treble but compared to the TDK Trek Micro which really is a really good small speaker in the same price range, the Xiaomi sounds audibly better separated and single notes are easier distinguishable.

    Increasing the volume to really high levels, distortion increases too and the sound gets somewhat less clean, however the lows remain quick and don’t appear overpowered or stressed. The chassis then also resonates with frequencies below 300 Hz which can be felt when touching it, but this is quite normal for the size and fortunately the vibrations are dampened enough so that they don’t make the surface the speaker sounds on resonate or vibrate.

    Soundstage:

    Although the Xiaomi has got two speakers that are playing in stereo, there is pretty much no soundstage, which however doesn’t really come surprising to me as not even much larger and expensive (stationary and portable) Bluetooth/docking speakers were able to give me a real impression of even a small soundstage. Nope, no unexpected magic is happening here and when correctly positioned, two small and cheap PC speakers can create a much much better soundstage compared to the one-dimensional something of the Xiaomi and other speakers of this kind. Only very rarely there is a very slight hint of a left-right direction with the expansion of nothing more than the speaker’s width (unless you are holding the speaker ca. 10 cm away from your forehead – then there really is a small soundstage with hints of spatiality and instrument placement).

    ---------

    In Comparison with the TDK Trek Micro:

    The Trek Micro is only a mono speaker with a rear-facing passive radiator but can be used in bridged Bluetooth mode with another Trek Micro to create a true stereo sound (many small speakers that allow bridging over Bluetooth/cable cannot output a stereo signal but only mono with the only benefit being a volume gain of 3 dB with every reduplication of the number of speakers – the Trek Micro IMG_2225.jpg
    however supports true stereo when bridging two devices over Bluetooth), which can of course be used to create a decent soundstage and imaging when the speakers are correctly placed. This is a potential advantage over the Xiaomi Mi speaker (but only when one has got two Trek Micro speakers). The Trek Micro has also got more features and connectors: besides the stereo bridging over Bluetooth, it has got volume buttons, a 3.5 mm AUX input (that only works when the speaker is turned on) and a 3.5 mm AUX output (to use the speaker as a Bluetooth receiver).

    The Xiaomi speaker has got a frame that is made of aluminium with sturdy plastic speaker and rear covers whereas the TDK features a (really sturdy) plastic frame with metal grilles for the speaker and rear-facing passive radiator. Out of the two, the Mi speaker looks definitely more elegant and premium whereas the TDK looks more to be made for tough outdoor use (like a CAT mobile phone) with the snap hook and waterproof certification as well as the name being a strong indicator for this.

    Tonally, the TDK is a little warmer and darker with the fuller lower root and somewhat inferior extension, and the lift in the lower root is there to make it appear like a larger speaker and to mask that not that much is happening anymore below 200 Hz.
    The Xiaomi sounds more balanced and has got an audibly lesser lift in the root, making it sound more natural. In terms of extension, the Xiaomi is the winner, too.

    Out of the two, the Xiaomi Mi has also got the better note separation, higher control and resolves better. This is even better audible at higher volumes where the Xiaomi distorts less than the TDK and stays clean for a longer time. Level stability is also better with the Xiaomi as the TDK’s passive radiator is occasionally excursing too much at higher volume levels and if really low notes are being played, so the Trek Micro’s passive radiator reaches its limits which sounds a bit like if it hits something. This doesn’t really happen with the Xiaomi’s passive radiator that remains better controlled, also at higher listening levels.

    The Trek Micro is already a good speaker given its price and size, but the Xiaomi is somewhat better in about everything, sounds cleaner and distorts less at high volume levels.


    Conclusion:

    The “Xiaomi Mi Square Box Bluetooth Speaker Black” is a small, very elegant and premium looking speaker that sounds really good as well as clean despite its little price tag and has got a pretty good extension for its size. There are pretty much no flaws when it comes to sound and it is surprising what is coming out of the small inner chassis volume.
    If you are looking for a Bluetooth speaker on a budget, the Xiaomi gets a high recommendation from me.

    Limitations are that there is pretty much no soundstage (not much surprising given that even large and much more expensive stationary as well as portable Bluetooth and docking speakers couldn’t convince me in this regard) and that there is nothing more in terms of connectors and features than Bluetooth, a single button and a micro USB charging socket which is also why I need to subtract half of a star despite the great value and clean, clear and balanced sound as well as great build quality and visual appearance for little money.
      vapman, s4tch and peter123 like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. HiFiChris
      I'm usually listening at low volume levels so fortunately there are not that many vibrations. I'm using it for some weeks now and really love this speaker. Sure, it's no high-er end stuff but I doubt that anything better can be found for less than $60 minimum. And it's damn small,
      Yeah, I genuinely love this speaker - it's cheap, it's tonally balanced, it is built really well and it sounds very very decent for its price (buts starts to distort somewhat at high-ish volume levels, like about all of the BT speakers of this size).
      HiFiChris, Nov 4, 2016
    3. vapman
      Yes for lower listening levels it's indeed great. And if you lay it down on its back on a table, not only are the vibrations more under control, but the surface you put it on becomes resonant as well =) Try that next time you listen to it closer to high volume :wink:
      vapman, Nov 4, 2016
    4. hoerlurar
      i received this speaker this week, and compared it a bit to my previous xiaomi bluetooth speaker, the round one (that seems to be sold out at both banggood and gearbest)
      i think the round might be a bit more v-shaped, but overall i thought the new boxy one sounded a bit dull compared to the older round speaker. I had hoped that this new speaker would be an upgrade to the older, but i'm not sure that's the case at all
      hoerlurar, Dec 3, 2016