Aiwa’s MI –X150 Retro Plus X speaker sounds impressive, literally

The fit and finish, the audio tuning and the retro look does the MI –X150 Retro Plus X a world of good. If only the name wasn’t such a mouthful
Aiwa’s MI –X150 Retro Plus X speaker. (Aiwa)
Aiwa’s MI –X150 Retro Plus X speaker. (Aiwa)
Published on Nov 26, 2021 05:06 PM IST
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Good sound and retro designs do come together. It isn’t any less true for audio speakers. Most buyers love a retro design on a speaker that matches it up with balanced sound.

Marshall Amplification, the British audio company, has proved that beyond doubt. So have others. Now it is the turn of Japanese technology company Aiwa, to get in on the fun, with the MI –X150 Retro Plus X speaker.

The Aiwa MI –X150 Retro Plus X has a sticker price of 24,990 but with the right deals, can be had for just below 20,000. It further leads to the belief that it is trying to give you a Marshall Acton II (around 24,999) alternative, while looking not too different, albeit with a larger design and more powerful audio hardware in play.

It does achieve the mission to a certain extent, but Aiwa has added some more utilitarian touches along the way.

As the very foundation for building the experience, the Aiwa MI –X150 Retro Plus X uses the Class AB amplifier technology, with the H iteration. The advantages of how the Class AB amplification works is they can attain high-fidelity, full-range amplification and are therefore in use in most home theatre hardware and stereo amplifiers.

This Class D amplifiers are still catching up while having the advantage of being smaller and running slightly cooler as well in comparison. The Marshall Acton II uses a Class D amplification system.

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Amplification tech is just half the story. It finally boils down to the tuning, and in that regard, Aiwa have tried to play to the gallery with a slight bass bias, which should work well for up-tempo music, Bollywood remixes and when you have the party mode on.

Helpfully, there are the retro touches with dials on the control panel for the treble and bass levels. That’s more customisation for you right there, in the real world and not via an app, with no physical touch.

Once you get used to the slight lower frequency bias, the Aiwa MI –X150 Retro Plus X does begin to sound better than you’d have had the courage to imagine. There isn’t any compromise on the higher frequency delivery, and it does make an effort to shave off any sharpness with the vocals - the success for this will depend on how you’ve positioned the treble dial in the choice that stretches from 1 to 10 levels. Unless you keep treble and bass at the lowest settings, the mid-range frequencies will certainly get compromised to a certain extent.

What impresses is the power that the Aiwa MI –X150 Retro Plus X packs, in terms of volume and width of the sound. It’ll easily fill up a large hall full of people, and sound equally personal and warm if you’re listening to it at low volume (and perhaps in closer proximity) in your bedroom.

Large speakers don’t always have this sort of flexibility, and Aiwa’s sound tuning has maintained the vibrancy of sound at lower volumes too - it isn’t reduced to mumbling, which some speakers end up with, when not in the loud volume element.

You can get this in a couple of finish options - though we’d always recommend the brown finish with the wood casing. It is a light brown finish, in case you’re wondering. No leather wrapping, like how Marshall does it. The fabric mesh behind which sits the audio hardware has a nice and tight fit too, with no slack or creases.

The control panel on the top has a battery charge notification, which we feel, is lit unnecessarily brightly. The USB and USB-C ports feel a bit fiddly and we wouldn’t recommend pressing inward too forcefully.

The mammoth 6,000mAh battery in the Aiwa MI –X150 Retro Plus X gets you around seven hours of music listening on a single charge, before it needs to be plugged back in. For a speaker of this size and this much power, that’s a really comfortable return.

Your connectivity options are Bluetooth, aux-in and USB. No fancy features such as reverse phone charging - luxury audio products don’t do those gimmicks. Perplexing though is that you don’t get to see the battery charge level if you plug this in to top up while the speaker is powered off.

The reassuring heft of the MI –X150 Retro Plus X (it weighs around 3.5kg) lends credence to the luxury audio positioning Aiwa is attempting here. While this isn’t a brand you’d immediately think of (at least not just yet) when planning an audio purchase in a price band that also has Marshall, Aiwa is doing enough to make a case for itself.

The fit and finish, the audio tuning and the well dialled in retro look does the MI –X150 Retro Plus X a world of good. If only the name wasn’t such a mouthful.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Vishal Mathur is Technology Editor for Hindustan Times. When not making sense of technology, he often searches for an elusive analog space in a digital world.

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