The Soundcore Mini from Anker is the smallest Bluetooth speaker within Soundcore’s product range. Less than half the size of a soda can, the Soundcore Mini is ideal for regular portable use. It’s so small it can even fit into a jacket pocket without much fuss. But how does it perform?
The Bottom Line
The Soundcore Mini is a very capable small Bluetooth speaker with impressive volume. While its strengths lie in how loud it can get and how affordable it is, the Soundcore Mini isn’t without flaws. It’s a good speaker for its price point – but not if you’re focused on a balanced sound signature.
We know that speakers of this size are limited in their performance solely by the nature of their design. We’ve also been surprised by the audio quality that some companies have managed to create using such small driver configurations.
First, we should mention that this speaker only costs around $25, so it can be considered a budget Bluetooth speaker. This is especially true when compared to the Sony SRS-XB100, which costs more than three times the price, despite fitting into what we’d consider the same speaker category. However, with the Sony XB13 seeing a big price drop recently, you should consider investing more in the XB13, which is now just around $10 or $15 more expensive.
Design & Build
The Soundcore Mini has a solid construction that feels great in hand with impressive weight to it. The finish has reasonable durability, though it it can be prone to scratching if knocked over onto a rough surface. The buttons feel good and are easy to use. Unfortunately, there is no waterproofing offered on this speaker.
Durability of Finish: 6.7/10
Feel of Buttons: 8.2/10
The Anker Soundcore Mini features a cylindrical design, similar to the standard ‘can’ designs we’ve seen in a lot of traditional Bluetooth speakers, but scaled down and essentially cut into a third of the size.
The speaker feels really good in the hand. It features a metallic matt finish and, while not uncomfortably heavy, is quite weighty for the size at 8.8 ounces. This added weight doesn’t make the speaker any less portable. Instead, it seems like Anker didn’t cut any corners regarding the build quality, despite its affordable price point.
The speaker’s base features an effective rubberized ring that prevents movement, even if the volume is cranked up. The side of the speaker has a vertical panel for the volume and play controls, while seated along the perimeter of the lower edge of the speaker, you’ll find the power button and connection ports. On the opposite side is a small power LED indicator light.
There is no weather protection on the Soundcore Mini. This is primarily due to the open connection ports, which feature an auxiliary input, Micro-USB charging port, and a TF card slot. It is worth noting that the newer variation, the Soundcore Mini 3 offers more robust weatherproofing and protects from submergence in water for a limited time, with its IPX7 rating.
Also, keep in mind that while a lot of these mini Bluetooth speakers focus on being able to be looped onto a carabiner or piece of string, the Anker Soundcore Mini doesn’t have any mechanism for this and can’t be carried as easily on bicycles for instance, as something like the JBL Go 3.
It features a single 2” driver, which fires upwards through a branded grill with the Anker logo. This branding doesn’t feel obnoxious, which is always welcome. Overall the speaker looks and feels impressive.
The audio performance on the Soundcore Mini is decent. It has an accentuated treble signature which results in sibilance issues and some aggressive highs. It’s far from a bad-sounding speaker, but the issues relating to the variation in bass and high treble mean this speaker falls behind the Sony XB13 in audio performance. With that said, the volume levels of the Soundcore Mini are respectable and noticeably louder than the XB13, despite some distortion at higher levels.
Bass Performance: 6/10
Mid-tone Performance: 6.6/10
Treble Performance: 6.2/10
Balanced Sound: 5.3/10
Heading into the listening experience, I had my expectations set fairly low – as one needs to do when listening to speakers of this size. This was primarily due to the limited driver size and my recent experience with the shortfalls of the Oontz Angle Solo, which has a similar-sized driver. It should be noted that the angle at which the Oontz disperses sound with its angled driver differs from the sound generated from the directly upward-firing speaker on the Soundcore Mini.
First, to test the audio performance, I started with a song with mellow verses with more acoustic and light percussion elements to gauge the midrange and highs. The more aggressive chorus also allows a better gauge of the speaker’s performance. On this track, the Soundcore Mini did a reasonably good job at handling the mid and upper frequencies.
The low range was perhaps the most surprising part of my experience with this speaker. The bass is noticeably richer and deeper than the Oontz mentioned above. The Soundcore Mini 3 still has flaws in the bass performance, depending on how and where you use it. You see, it’s not that the bass is very deep with the Mini. The low-end frequency response starts at 90Hz, but this speaker, whether by design or not, uses the surface it’s on to change the bass presentation.
The subtle movement of the speaker’s vibrations results in a reverberance across the surface it’s laid on. Thankfully this is compensated for by the rather impressive surface area of the rubberized grip on the bottom of the speaker. Without this grip to soften the vibrations, the speaker would rattle the surface it’s on. Instead, the table becomes an extension of the speaker’s bass.
I’m still not sure how I feel about this, though. In some cases, it can enhance the perceived bass, while on other surfaces, it sounds a little like someone is tapping the table with their foot along with the beat. This will no doubt be annoying to some people, and the nature of the reverberation will depend on the material you have it placed on and what’s already on that table.
The midrange frequencies were fairly good and performed better than the similarly priced Oontz Angle Solo, but I did find that the bass tuning sometimes overpowered the low-end midrange. Similarly, the overly enthusiastic treble also caused some issues in the upper end of the midrange. It still sounds good but is noticeably more aggressive than the Sony XB13, which has a more balanced sound.
It must be said that the higher frequencies are very aggressive and, while not extremely hollow, still sound slightly grating at louder volume. This is a common problem that speaker manufacturers make when working with smaller drivers. The Soundcore Mini still outperforms the Oontz Angle Solo when it comes to treble, but for those who have a sensitivity towards higher frequencies or sibilance, which there is a good amount of.
With that said, changing the angle of the speaker does influence the sound quality. Because the focus of the Soundcore Mini is to provide a 360-degree sound, there are sacrifices to be made. The biggest downside to an upward-firing driver on a speaker of this size is that you lose a lot of detail. If I turn the speaker to face me, at a 90-degree angle, at ear level – the audio is vastly improved, and there is more of that brightness in both the mids and highs.
I needed to hear how the speaker sounded with electronic music, so I turned to Mode Apart’s Voyage, a spacious journey. Despite the limited dynamic range, the Mini was able to do a very reasonable job at creating an immersive sound, thanks to the increased soundstage from the driver positioning. Again, the bass was impressive, and both the midrange and treble sounded better than expected. There were a few apparent dips in the midrange where some brightness was lost, but overall – it’s hard not to appreciate the overall sound of this speaker, given the field it’s playing in.
It must be noted that the Soundcore Mini has impressive volume for its size and is noticeably louder than the Sony XB13 and close to that of the Angle Solo. However, the dynamics leave something to be desired, and you will notice “artifacts” at the more extreme listening levels.
Anker claims that the Soundcore Mini can provide 15 hours of battery life. In our testing, we found that the estimates were fairly accurate. I got around 13 hours of playtime, which can easily be accounted for by varying audio levels during testing. It will take about 3 hours to charge the Soundcore Mini from 0% to 100%.
This performance is on par with similar models, such as the slightly larger Sony XB13 for example.
Apps, Features & Connectivity
The Soundcore Mini has limited features with a difficult-to-use FM Radio system and TF-Card reader. There is also a lack of app support. The features of the Soundcore Mini feel a bit dated, and if you’re looking for a more modern approach, the Soundcore Mini 3 is a better choice.
While the Soundcore Mini offers FM radio support, according to Anker, getting it to work is a bit of a mystery. Pressing the mode (M) button toggles a static radio signal. Whereafter you are supposed to (apparently) hold down the play button, which will then scan for stations. I attempted this myself several times, and although it seems that the speaker goes into some scanning mode (LED changes from static to flashing), I still do not get any radio stations after the scan.
Having looked into others’ experiences with this, the suggestions are all over the place, with some saying that it doesn’t work at all, others that it needs the USB cable to be plugged in to work as an antenna, and then others suggesting one use a mobile phone radio app.
I am happy to see an aux-in port, especially on such a small device. But the TF card slot feels dated, and the USB charging port still uses micro USB, not USB-C.
Additionally, you won’t get any app support with the Soundcore Mini, which is now starting to show its age, especially with Bluetooth 4.0 now considered by many as an ‘end of life’ in terms of practical viability.
Summary of the Anker Soundcore Mini
The Anker Soundcore Mini is a pleasant surprise, but it has shortcomings – the audio performs decently overall and well compared to similarly priced mini Bluetooth speakers. The bass is rather impressive in itself, though I do expect this to be a contentious point, given the way the speaker interacts with the surface it’s on. The mid-range frequencies, as do the upper frequencies, sound good, albeit a little dull.
I loved the build quality and the speaker’s overall design, but I wish it had more to offer in terms of app support, Bluetooth connectivity, and weatherproofing.
I would recommend investing a bit more and going for the Soundcore Mini 3, which tones down the useless FM radio feature and focuses on being more weather-resistant, offering app support and superior connectivity. The Soundcore Mini does it well, but the Mini 3 does it better.