are plenty of products designed to play audio from iPods, most of which have mediocre
sound quality. Creating a small portable unit that sounds good poses a real challenge
to designers. A company called Digital Signature Inc. from South Korea with Headquarters
in Santa Ana, California has introduced a series of digital music stations designed
to offer customers versatility in the way they play their music. One such product
is the Mint 220, which offers both wired and wireless music with iPod compatibility.
The unit also allows audio from a laptop or desktop to be transmitted to the music
player from the wireless transmitter. The Mint 220 has a pair of 3.5 full-range
Peerless® speakers that results in impressive sound quality from a compact
sound system. Peerless® transducers are well known for their excellent sound
and high quality construction. The system uses PurePath Digital Technology
from Texas Instruments with two 30W RMS class-D high efficiency power amplifiers.
The company states the frequency response to be 60 Hz 26 KHz. The Mint
220 is designed to offer customers high-fidelity audio for iPod, MP3 players,
games, TV, and computer (PC/Mac) users. The unit measures 11.4" W x 7"
D x 4.3" H and weighs 3.5 pounds.
The iPod mating connector works with most of the iPod devices including
the iPod Touch and the iPhone. The iPod device is charged when inserted into the
base. The sides of the dock have power and input select buttons, while the opposite
side has volume control buttons. The front of the dock has a set of blue LEDs
behind a set of four symbols used to indicate which input is selected. There is
also an EQ On/Off symbol. We ran our tests with an iPod Shuffle and the sound
quality was very good with a smooth and crisp frequency response. The bass was
surprisingly good for a small unit. Activating the EQ setting helped improved
the perceived sound by boosting the bass and treble levels.
back of the Mint 220 has the DC IN power input jack and a standard 3.5mm
stereo jack. The universal AC power adapter accommodates a wide voltage range
(100VAC-240VAC, 50/60Hz) making it acceptable worldwide. The adapter produces
a significant amount of power with 18VDC at 3 amps. The CONNECT button
is used to pair with the wireless USB dongle. The LINE IN input is designed
to connect to other audio devices such as Zune, DVD/CD player, or gaming products.
The audio quality was equally impressive using this input. The audio cable needed
for this interface is not included with the system.
The Mint 220 includes a USB Transmitter that sends audio from your
PC/Laptop or MAC to the Mint 220 speaker System. This system operates on a 2.4
GHz unlicensed ISM band. Installation was a breeze and did not require any special
software or drivers on our XP-based Sony Vaio laptop. Upon inserting the Mint
220 dongle, Windows recognized it and made it the default audio device. Pairing
was as simple as pressing the corresponding buttons on both the USB dongle and
the back of the Mint 220 unit. The sound immediately switched to the Mint 220
audio device and all sound from our laptop played through the Mint 220 system.
The Mint remote is of the smaller genre, yet has controls for power,
equalization (on/off), volume (including mute), and standard iPod functions (play/pause
and chapter skip). The three bottom buttons are used to select the audio source
(iPod, Line In, or Wireless audio). The remote runs from a standard 3V CR2025
button battery included with the system.
The Mint 220 is one of the easiest products to use and offers users the flexibility
of using a laptop, an iPod or any other music player with the same speaker system.
Installation was simple and painless, which is sometimes not the case when dealing
with new products. What surprised us most was the quality of the sound our laptop
was capable of producing. We no longer used the built-in speakers once we experienced
the sound quality from the Mint 220. Although the wireless range is specified
to be as high as 45 feet, we found this to be exaggerated in a real-world environment
with occasional dropouts in the audio. Keeping the distance to reasonable lengths
(10 feet or so) made the connection reliable.
The Mint 220 is a nice sounding digital audio system with versatile connectivity.
The iPod dock on the front of the unit will deliver great sound from the portable
audio players while charging them. The Mint 220 also includes a wired audio input
jack for those audio player lacking the iPod interface connector. We connected
our Zune to the back with excellent results. The design appears solid and the
music reproduction was great for such a compact design. We found the 2.4GHz wireless
connection to be somewhat limited in range with some sacrifice in fidelity when
compared to the wired connections. However, the wireless feature is a powerful
one making the product unique. Having high quality audio from our laptop was a
refreshing change that soon spoiled us. We no longer had to put up with the poor
audio coming from our laptop's built-in speakers. The versatility of the Mint
220 and the reasonable price ($180) makes it a great addition to our laptop and
gives us the ability to use it for music as well as other audio applications.