Review: Pasce Minirig Portable Subwoofer
Full Pasce Minirig Portable Subwoofer Review: Those who know Digital DJ Tips well know we are suckers for portable gear of any type. We love DJ programs on tablets and phones, we tend towards small headphones that can fold up into your pocket, we swoon over speakers that punch above their weight. After all, one of the massive advantages of digital DJing is that with the right gear, you can do it anywhere!
So when we first saw the original Minirig speaker (here's our Minirig review), we fell in love instantly. They are beautifully made 15W speakers, that carefully positioned can outperform systems twice or three times their price. They're a world apart from cheap, plastic variants on the same basic design. We absolutely adore ours, and it's been in constant use by me personally in my backyard all summer long, coupled with various DJ apps.
Introduction to the concept
The Minirig concept is basically that of a small speaker, rechargeable from any USB including your phone's charger, that once full will play for around 20 hours, plugged directly into your mobile device (you could plug a DJ controller into it too with an RCA to TRS cable). An LED tells you how much charge you have left (the colour changes from green through various colours to red) and there are two input sockets, one high gain, one low gain. (Plug into the former for pumpin' party sets, the latter for lone late-night listening.)
The only real criticism I had of the original design was that the charging cable is non-standard, so you'd better not lose it. Some would say being wired rather than wireless is a disadvantage, but for DJing, it's the only way: There's no such thing as a latency-free wireless speaker (at least I've never tested one), so for now, having it wired into your source is essential.
So to the subwoofer. After reading our original "fan's-eye" review of the Minirig, the Minirig guys (they're from a boutique UK company called Pasce) got in touch to tell us they'd developed a subwoofer, and it's just been released as I write. Exactly the same concept (USB-charged battery, two inputs, tubular design etc), but this time about the size of three of the original Minirigs stacked up, the subwoofer is designed to add some "oomph" into a Minirig system, while still being portable. Pasce kindly agreed to loan us a unit, and suggested we try it with a second original Minirig too, to get a full 2.1 system - but one that is of course still highly portable. So here we go...
First impressions and setting up
Like the original Minirig, the unit is packed beautifully (think a posh Scotch Whisky bottle box, or a jumbo Pringles box), and it comes in its own padded fabric case with a zipper too, with room in the top of the case for the cables.Unlike the original, this one is made to stand on its side, on four thankfully well-attached oval feet (the small rubber feet on my original have actually come off, I noticed when writing this review). If you stand it on its end like the original speakers are designed to be used, it rattles in use as we found out, but it's fine sideways.
It has a bass port in one end, and a speaker grill and housing absolutely identical to that of the original at the other, although of course this time it contains the bass speaker (a 3" driver) rather than a full-range speaker as with the originals. The frequencies quoted are 48-150Hz, for those who care about these things, and it weighs in at a pretty light but not insubstantial 875g.
You set the unit up by first plugging your sound source into it; this activates it (the light comes on). Next, you have to plug in at least one other Minirig, or else all you hear/feel is bass! If you buy two Minirigs from the company, they provide a splitter cable, which is what we had to test them with; this lets you plug two Minirigs in for full stereo. Otherwise, plug your original speaker in for a "1.1" system. There's also a twist, in that the splitter cable can automatically turn all three units on and off; unplug your cable from the subwoofer, and all the speakers power down, so no need to disassemble all the connections every time.
Once we'd worked out that the subwoofer has to go on its side, not upright, we were ready to give it a fair appraisal.
First thing to point out is that correctly positioned, the original Minirig is actually a marvellous speaker for bass, packing far more in that it rightfully should be able to, especially when well positioned. But with the subwoofer attached it's a different story entirely. Close your eyes (eg go into the next room) and you simply can't believe that what you're listening to is two 3" drivers and a 3" bass speaker, when the full 2.1 system is set up.
You can alter the overall balance of bass and treble by swapping around the high gain and low gain cable sockets, but we found that having everything set to high gain worked best for us. Pushing the iPhone input up to fully in the red caused a small amount of rattling, but at that volume it really was ear-splittingly loud, and we found two-thirds on iOS music apps to be the right level for really sweet, loud, full-range music and DJing.
Just like the original Minirigs, this is not cheap - but its performance means that for those who care about these things, that won't be an issue. If you compare it to other speaker systems at this end of the market (just head over to the Apple Store and look at the price of some of the all-in-one speaker sets) it's comparable, even good value. What it doesn't have that most of those speaker systems have is wireless. For many people, that would be a disadvantage, and it's undeniably more fiddly to set up three speakers like this, all wired, than it is a single one. But for DJs, this is - as mentioned above - actually a huge advantage, as there's no latency.
If you're a DJ who values portability, and you want a speaker system that will rock a house party and have your peers gawping at how brilliant it is, and if you're considering spending on a high-end rechargeable all-in-one speaker system, I'd definitely recommend you take a look at this. Go for the subwoofer with one or preferable two of the original Minirigs for an exceptional system.
It's unique, beautifully made, and sounds amazing. And it's loud. Plus with 20 hours' party-time on a five-hour charge (yes, we've tested it), it's going to keep going longer than you're likely to! Nonetheless, you're looking at about £340 for the full system I tested, so you have to have the need for it to consider that kind of investment. But having said that, if you're the owner of a Minirig already, the price is about £150 to add the subwoofer on to your Minirig and I'd imagine that as you already know the quality of these little speakers (it's hard to explain to non-owners just how good they are) you're going to be sorely tempted.
The Pasce Minirig Subwoofer is a portable, rechargeable addition to the Minirig range, designed to be used alongside one or two of the original speakers. It is just as well made, and despite being a little fiddly to set up with all of those wires, completes just about the perfect ultraportable DJ speaker system once it is.
- Minirig Subwoofer
- From:: Pasce
- Price: £150
- Reviewed by:
Do you own a Minirig speaker? Would you consider adding the sub-woofer? Or do you think these are crazy prices for portable speakers? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.