Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Round Mi Bluetooth Speaker: Simplistic, Minimalistic and Powerful Enough

Xiaomi, often when mentioned people associate it with mobile phones and tablets, but those who follow closely with Xiaomi's development will know that they have an entire ecosystem of peripherals and home appliances. This Bluetooth Speaker, also known as the Cannon, is the second generation of their series of round bluetooth speakers. It's cheap at only RMB 129, or roughly USD $20, but is it any good? Let's find out.


Once again, this Bluetooth speaker comes in a cardboard box as per Xiaomi tradition. The only difference is that the box is white and top of the box has a dotted design (pointing at the product within being a speaker). The packaging itself is relatively simple and light, but promises a certain level of shock-resistance. 

Turning to the back, you'll see the list of tech specs as well as the serial number and barcode. The device comes packing a Tymphany speaker unit with a 4Ω resistance and 5W output as well as Bluetooth 4.1 and a 1200 mAH battery unit. You can also see an iF Design Award logo on the back, and Xiaomi is very proud of it. The packaging is simple, as you get only the speaker and user manual. No micro-USB cable was included but that's fine as many has a lot of micro-USB cables lying around.


The Cannon has an aluminium top, and a polycarbonate body. The combination gives a simplistic and minimalistic yet elegant design but the plastic body does make it feel cheap considering the first generation is clad in full aluminium. The weight is fine, not too heavy for portability and not too light to make it feel even cheaper than it already is. The speaker grill is covered in white fabric for better sound.

The top of the device is actually a turn knob for volume, and it has just the right rigidity to it. It's intuitive and accounts for lesser buttons and dials, but the knob is somehow wobbly. Thankfully the clicks for each stop are obvious, so the above problem is not really a deal breaker. However, the delay between a turn on the knob and the actual change in volume is a little too long, and I don't really like it.

The height of this device is increased while the width of it is decreased. This contributes to more portability, but the smaller base does make it feel unstable since the center of gravity is shifted upwards. This situation is especially obvious when pressing the power button, which is housed in the top part of the device and requires a certain amount of force to push it down. One thing worth mentioning is that the power button can be pushed from any position.

Xiaomi claims the new speaker has better clarity, treble and bass. According to tests, I do find the sound is clearer and treble is cleaner, but bass is definitely lacking and sometimes it's really weak. The soundstage is also much narrower than the first, and the volume is lower than the first generation. 

Having an upgrade to Bluetooth v4.1 certainly helped in cleaner and better audio trasmission, and the lower energy consumption of BLE helped to reduce power draw from the built-in 1200mAH non-removable battery. Xiaomi claims a 7 hour audio playback time, my tests yielded almost the same result but it was expected and similar to that of the previous generation model. The battery charges via micro-USB and takes a 5V 1A input.

Final Verdict
The Cannon is a pretty good Bluetooth speaker but it doesn't really stand out when the market today is filled with many Bluetooth speakers that perform better than it, but at it's price point it's an okay buy. I still prefer the previous model over this, but nonetheless there are still improvements over the last generation that is worth the change. Xiaomi do have other Bluetooth Speakers which are better but comparatively costs more. The Cannon goes for RMB 129, but there's a RMB 30 discount currently.

  • Cleaner sound
  • Simpler design language
  • Portable
  • Very affordable

  • Narrow sound-stage
  • Somewhat cheaper build
  • Lacks bass (a lot)
  • Only available in China

Sources: Xiaomi