Reviews
Creative MUVO mini
Weatherproof Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

By Jorge Figueiredo - December 3rd, 2014

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There are many portable Bluetooth-enabled speakers on the market, and they come in many shapes and sizes. While sound quality and portability will always be two of the factors that people will look at to determine which speaker they will buy, other companies will attract consumers with other additional useful features as well. Creative’s MUVO mini is one such product. Boasting resistance to water and dust, Creative has given customers another practical reason to grab one of their products. They sent us one to try out, and I have to say that though the sound is not quite perfect (as is the case with portable speakers in general), its size and utility more than make up for any shortcomings.

The MUVO mini looks like it could be the Airwave‘s smaller cousin, though it lacks the interesting prism-like shape. Shaped more like a brick, this weather-proof (read: water resistant) speaker does not take up much room due to its measurements (190mm x 37mm x 59mm) and does not weigh very much at all (285g). Like the Airwave, the Mini is made of durable plastic and has a patterned grille. The back of the speaker houses a microUSB port (for charging) and a 3.5mm jack that acts as an auxiliary input port. These two ports are cleverly covered by a rubber flap, ensuring that all parts of the speaker are resistant to the elements.

The controls for the Muvo are on the top of the unit, and are also made of rubber. The four buttons (power, Bluetooth, volume up and volume down) are clearly marked and are most likely well-sealed against the weather (due to the unit’s IP66 rating). The buttons feel solid, with enough resistance to prevent one from accidentally activating one of them – yet enough pliability to not have to use a sledgehammer to change your settings. Audio feedback accompanies button presses, so you have confirmation in regards to what function you are trying to perform. 2 LED indicators are also present, providing visual feedback as well. The unit also houses a microphone (for phone calls).

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Box contents.

The MUVO mini supports Bluetooth 4, and is easily paired with smartphones that support the wireless protoccol. It is also backwards compatible, so if you have a smartphone or tablet that does not use the same Bluetooth version, you should still be safe. Pairing is easy and takes only a few seconds. Of course, if your device houses a near-field communications (NFC) chip, you simply have to tap your device to the MUVO and you’re good to go. I paired this unit with my iPod Touch 5 (manual Bluetooth pairing) and my LG G2 (NFC) and both worked without difficulty. The unit’s auxiliary port is also an option for those who want to save a little bit of battery life – but given that the unit can hold a charge for around 10 hours (a number that I can verify from longevity tests that I performed), I’m not sure if there is that much of a benefit to using an auxiliary cable (which maybe gives you an extra 45 minutes to an hour of play time).

Contained in the Mini are two full-range drivers (1.3 inch) and Creative’s “front bass radiator”, which brings the driver count up to three (though this one is passive). Overall, the sound quality is quite good. Sound separation and clarity are both great; I listened to several different acoustic jazz and blues songs, as well as classical – and I found that I could distinguish different instrument groups (if not individual instruments) with little difficulty. Electronica, pop, and rock music also play quite effectively on the MUVO mini, thanks to a great dynamic range. My only complaint about the MUVO mini is that the high end seems slightly under-represented; however, seeing as most people like bass-filled music, this speaker will do well with consumers – especially since there is very little distortion as the volume goes up.

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Accessible controls.

Phone calls sound good on the mini. Reception is good, with clear delivery of sound from the person on the phone. When I tested the speaker during a hands-free call, the microphone did a great job picking up my voice as well, though it arguably did a much better job capturing my dialogue when I was sitting relatively close to the unit.

I tested the water resistance of the unit by placing it on a shelf in my shower. It was the perfect place, as the shelf occasionally gets wet due to its location. The speaker performed just fine in the indirect spray of the shower. For good measure, I also dumped a few cups of water on top, and it kept on kickin’. I didn’t test for dust resistance – but I’m fairly sure that this unit would be fine on the beach, or in the backyard. Also, while it withstood the water splash tests, I wouldn’t recommend submerging it; water has a funny way of building pressure, and will most likely penetrate the unit (remember, this is water-resistant, not waterproof). Also, for the record, during the testing the rubber flap over the interface ports was closed tightly.

The MUVO mini would work very well as a background music provider for a small party (maybe a living room setting or a backyard). On a 60%-70% volume setting, it won’t overpower conversations in a crowded room; nor will it deafen people; cranking it up to the top end results in a fairly loud experience (though nowhere near as powerfully full as a good set of bookshelf speakers). As the drivers are so close together, you’re not going to get decent stereo separation. while bass performance is decent, it would be interesting to see a MUVO mini with the Airwave’s bass cone, which directs bass down at the surface that the speaker is on, to squeeze out a little more bass by using resonance; however, one doesn’t buy a tiny speaker like this for ultimate bass performance, so the idea is simply a pipe dream (until we co-opt some alien technology).

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Interface ports are covered with a rubber flap for protection.

The MUVO mini is nicely packaged with a microUSB cable, a quick-start guide, and the usual warranty documents. It is available in four colours (blue, red, black, and white) and is small enough (and light enough) to shove comfortably into a backpack or purse for on-the-go audio goodness. At around $100, the unit might seem like an expensive proposition for a speaker missing a little off the top end of the sound spectrum. However, good low-to-mid performance, a solid wireless connection, wireless phone call capability, great clarity, and the fact that it is weatherproof all conspire to seal the deal in terms of it being a good value.

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