X

Aaron MiniMax review: Aaron MiniMax

For the money, this Aussie brand sub/sat system has plenty to offer. It's not the swankiest looking of designs, but this is definitely a compact speaker package that doesn't sound as small scale as it looks.

Nic Tatham

See full bio
4 min read

Aaron Loudspeakers has a long and proud R&D history in Australia — it's the only Aussie speaker company to use its own anechoic chamber and head honcho Hume L'Estrange is always on the search for technical improvements to incorporate into his designs. He's currently burning the midnight oil developing a new range that incorporates digital signal processing to help lessen the impact on sound quality of inherent speaker nasties, such as distortion and inefficiency.

aaron-minimax_1.jpg
8.0

Aaron MiniMax

The Good

Good for music as well as movies. Great value for money. Solidly capable subwoofer.

The Bad

Looks aren't too swish. Subwoofer adds bulk. Lack some surround dispersion.

The Bottom Line

For the money, this Aussie brand sub/sat system has plenty to offer. It's not the swankiest looking of designs, but this is definitely a compact speaker package that doesn't sound as small scale as it looks.

Design and features

Moving away from the big speaker boxes that Aaron has long been associated with, the company has produced a couple of subwoofer/satellite systems for home theatre use. These are perfect if you're still after a big surround sound, but don't want the speakers to dominate the visual proceedings. In this system, the MiniMax comprises of four identical satellites: the SS-15, which are used as front and rear pairs; a dedicated centre speaker, the CC-15; and Aaron now includes its larger SW-200 active subwoofer as part of the package. A pair of adjustable speaker stands are also thrown in.

It's important that the surround satellites match tonally to ensure an even spread and cohesion, which is why these speakers all share the same 115mm upper bass/mid-range drivers and soft dome tweeter. The non-resonant plastic cabinets provide plenty of mounting options, in any direction and on any wall surface, according to Aaron. The small sats are reassuringly solid and weighty plus construction quality is equally impressive. Aesthetically, the look is more functional and a tad "outdoors" than high urban chic, plus it's black or black when it comes to the available finishes.

Providing the low-end reinforcement is the imposing SW-200 subwoofer, Aaron's penultimate subbie armed with a single 10-inch (250mm) woofer and 150 watts of on-board amplification. It measures 315x445x460mm, weighs a hefty 23kg and comes in Beech as well as Black. It's a bit too big to hide under your average coffee table, but pop it in a corner, don't use it as a pot plant stand and it'll, sort of, blend in. Big bass does really mean a decent-sized woofer and box, and this promises to deliver on that front.

Stereo performance

Combined, the SW-200 and a pair of stand-mounted SS-15s provide a really nice musical balance. As we suspected, the subwoofer can be tuned to deliver monster bass; however, we preferred to keep it sensible for music listening. Quantity yes, but quality also, this subwoofer sounded fast and controlled with rock and pop. While it contentedly drove the rhythms along with plenty of gusto, the small satellites kept up their own end with an open mid-band, amply wide soundstage and a peppy treble response. They tend to image with a distinct sweet-spot and definitely sound bigger than their small cabinets suggest. We could listen to music all day long, which we did, on this sub/sat system and it never proved tiresome or hard going, no matter what our musical tastes.

Surround performance

We'd imagine this system would be mostly used in a 5.1 channel configuration and it's OK to unleash the subwoofer a bit more. Upping its levels and loading a Blu-ray of Casino Royale makes for a dynamically charged home theatre experience. We teamed the Aarons up with a resident Onkyo AV receiver and the match was perfect. Reasonably efficient as a system, it still pays to team them up with a receiver capable of delivering ample current. This allows you to drive the speakers reasonably hard and they'll play loud for a small loudspeaker collection. There's no problem pushing the subwoofer hard — it loves the challenge, but more often than not the satellites can't handle the dynamic onslaught from big-sounding action movies. The MiniMax will take a fair dollop of punishment and we were able to push them to quite anti-social volume levels before they showed any sign of discomfort.

As with any conventional two-way design, rear dispersion isn't as enveloping as a dipole or bipole design, and the SS-15s sweet-spot tendency makes sweeping epics such as the final battle scene from 300 sound a bit too directional. It's not profoundly noticeable though and with more subtle movie soundtracks such as the atmospheric remastered Blu-ray of Blade Runner, you really get a feel for downtown rain-drenched Los Angeles, circa 2019. Much of this is due to the excellent clarity of the CC-15 centre speaker, which with an open mid-band, delivers vocals and other centrally placed effects with audible ease. We also liked the way the satellites and subwoofer integrate unobtrusively as well.

Conclusion

For the money, this Aussie brand sub/sat system has plenty to offer. It's not the swankiest looking of designs, but this is definitely a compact speaker package that doesn't sound as small scale as it looks.