en&is embarked on a very unique project when they came up with the Megaphone Speaker, a passive amplifier made from ceramics for the iPhone. At the time when we reviewed it on the site it caught our imaginations but its overall usefulness was debatable. Something like the Kubxlab case for the iPhone 5 did a better job at amplification, but the Megaphone wasn't just a speaker it was also an ornament and really suited being used in such a manner. So when en&is informed us that they'd created a smaller version of the speaker called the Megaphonemini we were intrigued and eager to try it.
The design is essentially a scaled down en&is Megaphone. Being smaller is beneficial in many ways, the most obvious being that it takes up far less room and it's much easier to move around. But the other notable benefit of a smaller design is added portability because it doesn't use a wooden stand to keep it from overbalancing like the regular Megaphone did, instead three foam grips are glued to the bottom of the ceramics to avoid scratches and secure stability on a range of different surfaces. Although we liked the wooden stand, it did make relocating the Megaphone a bit of pain and one its main intentions was to diversify the audio vibrations, but when the mini version is sat on a wooden surface it can use that directly to enhance and project audio. It might not be as effective but it still works.
The big open cylinder where the audio is projected from, effortlessly glides up to the narrow neck where the iPhone is designed to dock. It's a clean design and the precision in craftsmanship of this ceramic gem, which is actually handmade in Italy, is very admirable. It's a beautiful piece when in a living environment and suits being in our studio too. And because this has no internal electrical components we see no reason why it can't be used and even left outside as an ornament. Currently two colours are available to buy, a glossy white which we have and an extremely sleek matte black.
The original 2G iPhone, 3G, 3GS 4, 4S, 5 and probably the rumoured 5S will all fit into the Megaphonemini. All iPod touch models from the second generation onwards are also compatible. We tended to use the en&is Megaphonemini with the iPhone 5 and it fitted snugly. It does look unbalanced but would require force to fall from the Megaphonemini, this is worth bearing in mind for those who have cats and the like wandering around and brushing their bodies against it.
The sound reproduction from ceramics is similar to a classic gramophone horn. It suits the music of the era too. More modern genres have a slightly retro mildly echoey style attached to them when playing through the Megaphonemini. This isn't a bad thing and is simply a bi-product of ceramic. The amplification of audio isn't on the scale of 2x, but does no doubt boost the volume without heavily sacrificing audio quality. What can happen with amplification type products is that they boost the volume and destroy the quality and clarity but that isn't the case here. The results from this passive amplification are adequate for casual intimate listening, it isn't something you're going to break out at a party. Used in an intimate manner though, it's a brilliantly stylish and easy way to achieve a louder audio output whilst cooking in the kitchen or reading in your living area.
Navigating the music collection on one of the iOS devices is, of course, easy via the touch screen as it's totally exposed. But we like to press the home button to awake an iOS device and then double tap it to gain access to the music controls which allow skipping of tracks, pausing/playing and volume adjustment, which is difficult as the Megaphonemini partly covers the home button on the iPhone 5. This is something we'd have liked better designed.
The difference in audio amplification between the en&is Megaphone and en&is Megaphonemini is minimal. We actually prefer the mini to listen to as it has a tighter sound style and the other benefit is that it takes up less space. It's also cheaper, priced at €199.