Epoz AktiMate Mini

The AktiMate Mini is an Australian-designed iPod dock that offers the best stereo sound we've heard in one of these systems.


8.6
CNET Rating
7.3
User Rating

About The Author

CNET Editor

Ty is a journalist with 15 years experience in writing for IT and entertainment publications. He is in charge of the home theatre category for CNET Australia and is also a PC enthusiast. He likes indie music and plays several instruments. Twitter: @tpendlebury


If there's one thing Australia seems to do well it's speakers. From Whatmough to Richter and Krix our speakers are attracting the attention of the world. While stand-alone speakers are well catered for there's still some wiggle room in the premium iPod dock market, and this is where local company Epoz has done especially well.

Design and features

The AktiMate Mini and Maxi offer true stereo hi-fi from your iPod or iPhone and feature attractive designs as well. The Mini is a 2.0-channel system that comes with an iPod dock on top of one of the speakers, which also happens to house the amplification and other inputs. The amplifier is supplied by well-known hi-fi maker Creek and can pump out 40 Watts per channel.

The two speakers come in a choice of three colours — gloss white, red or black — and also includes rubber feet to stop them from shifting across your desk.

Inputs include a 3.5mm jack, a stereo input and an AV output, which will display videos on your iPod to a connected television. Epoz suggests you can also use the stereo output to connect a subwoofer. Strangely, the speaker comes with a USB port, but it can only be used as a charger for your mobile device and won't pass audio.

The device can be controlled by a push-button volume/selector switch on the front of the left-hand speaker or by the remote control. The remote is quite bare-bones and it's not possible to change the input with it — plus the unit doesn't always register clicks.

Performance

One of the disadvantages of an iPod dock is that its left and right speakers are very close together, and as a result most of them cannot present a stereo image — everything sort of comes out of the middle somewhere.

Having two speakers means the AktiMate doesn't have this problem. In fact, it presented the finest stereo imaging we have ever heard at this price — and that includes regular hi-fi systems. Vocals were locked to the centre of the speakers while instruments were faithfully spread between the two poles.

Detail was excellent with every breath and whisper captured in acoustic music or confessional rock from artists like Nick Cave and Ben Harper. If you want to feel like the musicians are assembled in front of you then this is the iPod dock to get.

The dock is only able to plumb down to 58Hz and so if you like your bass, this may not be the dock for you. We found that the Mini was very fussy about positioning, and if placed too close to a wall it struggled to articulate anything pitched lower than a guitar, with melodic bass lines sounding rubbery and distorted. This is a problem we also found with the larger Maxi, but give it some room — roughly a metre from the wall — and the distortion disappears. We experimented by adding a Velodyne CHT-12R subwoofer and found it smoothed over some of the fluffed low notes.

Conclusion

The AktiMate Mini is a well-built and attractive stereo iPod dock. If you like to hear intricate details in your music and don't much care for bombast then the Mini is one of the best sounding docks for the price. Add a decent subwoofer, give it some room and it will also double as a decent "party box" as well.

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Scissorhands_ki
10
Rating
 

"Great bass, good clarity and decent high's"

Scissorhands_ki posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Great bass, clarity high's, very impressive and hard to beat for the cost.

The Bad:size, you may want to EQ your speakers (using your computer settings, you can totally do this btw) as the right speaker is a small amount quieter, could be a better speaker, but for the money there isn't much competition.

The reviews below me are pretty funny. The man complaining about a hiss/buzz definitely has a fault with his speakers (they should be dead silent), they'd be replaced if still in warranty. The one who mentions the dodgy iPod connection is actually standard though, the old model (Aktimate Mini) had a dodgy iPod connector, although the new(ish) Aktimate Mini doesn't seem to have the problem anymore. Also the man complaining they are a blatant copy of the Audioengine... you can't really do a lot with speaker design if you're putting sound quality first, and the two companies that formed Aktimate are pretty decent. Not to mention that the sound from the Aktimate is much better.

The Aktimate's are a much better sounding speaker than the Audioengine 5 which get amazing reviews, especially regarding bass (unless you get some decent, and mildly expensive studio monitors you won't find a cleaner bass).

Also, you can generally pick them up for $500 in Australia. For the price they are much better than any desk speaker, or mid-sized and inexpensive dock-speaker available. I use them for my computer at home, but I also work in a Hi-Fi store and you can't really beat these for electronic music unless you want to go in to Studio Monitor speakers, or spend large amounts. If you want something smaller the Aktimate Micro's are also really good for the money, but you can't expect the same frequency range; they have some decent volume though.

At the moment these are the best small speakers that I've listened to for their money (there really aren't many), although I haven't listened to many similar priced studio monitors. They'd even be worth adding in a DAC like the Meridian Explorer or the AQ Dragonfly for a decent improvement.

Reviews generally place these as better sounding than competitors, and although they have less press, it's a pretty clear-cut comparison. If you're buying speakers for anything other than aesthetics, sound, size, or features I think you're a little odd: and there isn't a desktop speaker that has anything notable better than these speakers for their price. For added features add in a simple Belkin Bluetooth unit, an Apple TV or a USB powered DAC.

CraigS131 Facebook
6
Rating
 

"Nice design, powerful - but horrible hiss!"

CraigS131 posted a review   

The Good:Nice design, powerful, convenient

The Bad:Hiss/buzz like crazy, picks up radio frequencies

I bought a pair of these 6 months ago and put them on my desk as PC speakers. They have a great sound and handle most genres pretty well. I do like a bit of thumping bass for house music, and find the Akitmate's lacking only slightly in that department.

But the buzzing / hissing is a MAJOR problem. When the units are on and no music is playing, the hiss is *extremely* noticeable, and it's only when playing music at loud volumes that you can't hear it. You can also hear local radio coming through the hiss. So I'd say there's shielding problems. I've tried different cables, running the units direct from my sound card, and have even bought a NuForce Icon2 amp - nothing stops the hissing. Time to go on eBay I think.

Greg
8
Rating
 

Greg posted a review   

The Good:Looks, power, performance

The Bad:iPod dock sometimes has issues

I've had my white AkiMate Minis for over 4 years and they still continue to surprise me. The sound quality rivals much more expensive units and these speakers just look gorgeous. The only issue I have had with my units is the iPod dock - I need to angle the iPod forward in the dock to get sound out of both speakers and the dock no longer charges my iPod (but this could be a problem with my 7 year old iPod).

 

Artie K posted a comment   

The Good:Sound Quality, Build Quality, Design, Quality, Quality, and Quality

The Bad:Price

Runs rings around the Audioengine A5. These speakers are not designed as computer speakers. They are high quality, powered hi-fi speakers with built in ipod dock. Put them on a stand and listen to them sing. If you want PC speakers, but something from logitech.

 

Ezza posted a comment   

The Good:Looks

The Bad:Blatant Aussie copy of Audioengine A5

Blatant Aussie copy of Audioengine A5 and $200+ more expensive.

John Mitchell
5
Rating
 

John Mitchell posted a review   

The Good:Powerful and loud.

The Bad:Sometimes sound quality gets buzzy, when loud or soft.

Very pricey for a not-so good quality product.




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User Reviews / Comments  Epoz AktiMate Mini

  • Scissorhands_ki

    Scissorhands_ki

    Rating10

    "The reviews below me are pretty funny. The man complaining about a hiss/buzz definitely has a fault with his speakers (they should be dead silent), they'd be replaced if still in warranty. The one ..."

  • CraigS131

    CraigS131

    Rating6

    "I bought a pair of these 6 months ago and put them on my desk as PC speakers. They have a great sound and handle most genres pretty well. I do like a bit of thumping bass for house music, and find ..."

  • Greg

    Greg

    Rating8

    "I've had my white AkiMate Minis for over 4 years and they still continue to surprise me. The sound quality rivals much more expensive units and these speakers just look gorgeous. The only issue I h..."

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