Thursday, December 11, 2014

First Impressions: Denon Envaya Mini - mini big speaker

I was about to prepare some further reviews of speakers like the Pioneer Freeme or the Cambridge Audio G2, when I received the freshly announced Denon Envaya Mini which suddenly makes the reviews of all the other speakers pretty much obsolete. Although I hadn't noticed any big announcement to tell the truth, I was really curious to hear it when I finally discovered it and did my best to get it as soon as possible. In Germany there are already offers for as low as 90€ including shipping, which puts the Envaya Mini on the same price level as the NudeAudio Move Super M I reviewed recently. Not sure when the Denon Envaya Mini will become available in the U.S. and how much it will cost though, so jump in to ease your waiting!

This is going to be a first impression, therefore I don't intend to do any big comparison with the Super M, just let me tell you that as much as I was disappointed or underwhelmded by the Super M the Denon is definitely going to become something like a game changer in the whole mini speaker class below 100$. It is making most offers sound like toys at once.

First let me clarify that it doesn't have the "PHAT" bloated bass of the Bose Soundlink Mini, no, but the Denon sounds better anyhow. It is much more musical than the Bose. There is a really healthy amount of bass. It sounds definitely better than most other current offerings, even bigger ones or more expensive ones including Bose Soundlink Colour, Fugoo, TDK A33 etc. Of course you shouldn't expect the ear-splitting loudness of all the larger speakers, but played at comfortable indoor listening levels the Denon Envaya Mini really kicks especially when looking at the size of the speaker compared to the size of the sound it has to offer! It will play louder than many other small speakers and reaches about the same loudness of the Super M, just with much more bass and more of a wow-factor. I would say the Denon will reach about 75% of the Bose Soundlink Mini but without any obvious dynamic compression or other strange processing. There is some slight bass-reduction at higher levels, but Denon has the DSP pretty good under control with distortion kept to the minimum. The Envaya Mini is perfectly usable even at its maximum loudness setting.

I have put the Denon right beside my Infinity One and although the Denon doesn't have the same bass-punch of the much larger Infinity it doesn't need to hide itself. You don't have the impression as if something was missing, it is just pleasant and fun to listen to. The sound is natural, full-bodied, punchy with sparkling treble and most important there even is some amount of real stereo separation you usually don't get of speakers that small.
The Denon Envaya Mini is very slim, you can easily grasp it with one hand, it is just a bit on the longish side, but this is probably also the reason why it sounds that wide together with the alleged DSP stereo widening algorithms. The JBL Charge 2 gives a rather a mono-impression with the differences being even bigger when put against the Bose Soundlink Colour, because the Denon wipes the floor with the more expensive and larger Bose thanks to a better sound overall, wider, just smoother, the Bose on the other hand sounds a bit edgy. I am not sure if the Envaya Mini applies any kind of real physiological loudness compensation, but it sounds perfectly full-bodied at lowest levels too, you never get any anemic or tinny sound, neither does it tend to sound boomy regardless of how I put it, there doesn't seem to be any distrubing low-frequency resonance you have to fight with on many Bose speakers. I must confess that I remained impressed and won't waste any further words about it, just add some facts, which make the Denon Envaya Mini definitely one of the most interesting offerings in its class: it is water resistant, has AptX on board, can quickly pair thanks to NFC and is able to connect to multiple devices at the same time. Handsfree is included and the play/pause button can also be used to skip tracks. It doesn't need any proprietary charger (there isn't any included either) as charging is done through Micro-USB, last not least Denon also added a simple carrying bag.

I was just about to prepare a "best-of" list of all my favorite speakers, but the Denon Envaya Mini screwed it up completely and made many of my current speakers that would originally find their way onto that list pretty useless including the JBL Charge 2, Fugoo which all have to go etc.

The Denon Envaya Mini is definitely a keeper, stay tuned for a detailed review if you are still not convinced or simply klick the order-button!

Update: You can find my full review here.