Ministry of Sound Audio M Plus/audio L Plus
FOR Lots of bass weight and punch; features for dance fans AGAINST Lacks some detail; limited dynamic reach
Ministry of Sound Audio M Plus £200
The ‘Plus’ here effectively means wi-fi has been added to the Bluetooth and 3.5mm jack connections of the original Audio M, welcoming it to Ministry of Sound’s new multi-room family alongside the larger Audio L Plus and more diminutive Audio S Plus.
Otherwise, it is difficult to spot many differences; both have the same sturdy R2d2-like shell concealing a vertically aligned tweeter and woofer, with touch pad to control your music via a series of taps and swipes on its head.
Both also have a claimed battery life of six hours at half volume (four hours at 70 per cent volume) and both come with a pair of complimentary tickets to Ministry of Sound’s London club, access to Ministry of Sound radio and the ‘Live from the Club’ feed.
Given our respect for the original, our spirits are stoked by the similarities in their tech spec. And they are further heightened when we play Huarache Lights from Hot Chip’s Why Make Sense? album, to find that same infectious sense of punch to the rhythm.
Other similarly priced speakers tend to time a little better but, in terms of drums in particular, few have so much kick. It’s designed by the same engineers responsible for the nightclub’s sound system and, as we fight the urge to fidget, it is clear that Ministry of Sound understands what makes people want to move.
On the same plane
It also brings to the fore Alexis Taylor’s vocal, buoying it against being drowned out by the force of the kick despite his voice’s slight fragility.
It doesn’t skew the balance an awful lot – this isn’t the most spacious sound, although there is a decent vertical spread – it is just a forward presentation with a lot of kick. You could argue it’s a very welcome characteristic for a speaker reproducing dance music.
That character remains true throughout the record, but changing tack somewhat as we play Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress, this album better highlights some of the Audio M Plus’s shortcomings.
There is still benefit from the forward presentation, but there’s a lack of depth to the detail. Drones in Lambs’ Breath are without texture, if audible at all. We aren’t of course requesting hi-fi levels of detail, but we would usually expect more from a speaker at this price.
That lack of insight and analysis isn’t helped by somewhat flat dynamics. A more subtle dynamic sense would aid enjoyment of dance music as it would larger-scale post-rock. There is a lack of expression here compared with other speakers with more rounded skill-sets.
Essentially, it comes as little surprise that the Audio M Plus is no departure from the sonic blueprint of Ministry of Sound’s other wireless speakers.
While not wanting to lose what makes the speaker great for the money – its contagious sense of beats and solid midrange – we’d appreciate more subtlety that would allow us to enjoy a wider range of music. Still, if you want multi-room and you want to dance, this is a decent solution.
Ministry of Sound Audio L Plus £300
Alas, it is not a suave kitchen appliance but a wireless speaker, the grown-up member of the company’s multi-room family. Certainly its armoury is quite sufficient to fill its role.
Behind its curving grille are two 2.5cm tweeters, a pair of 11.5cm woofers and a reflex port for added oomph in the low end. It is suitably connected, as well: wi-fi, Bluetooth with NFC pairing, DLNA, 3.5mm auxiliary jack and Spotify Connect, as well as access to Ministry of Sound Radio and its Live From The Club feed.
Lifting it from its box, the Audio L Plus is true to the quality we recognise from
”As we fight the urge to fidget, it is clear that Ministry of Sound understands what makes people want to move”
Ministry of Sound: a reasonably solid plastic casing, metal grille and a touch-sensitive tap-and-swipe control centre on its crown, which doesn’t always benefit our clumsy fingers but feels befitting of a fairly high-ticket wireless speaker.
Having acquainted it with our network via the free control app, we are ready to play within five minutes.
Driving with conviction
If you’ve heard a similar Ministry of Sound speaker before, you’ll probably find the Audio L Plus entirely familiar, and quite right too. It’s the mark of someone who knows their audience.
We begin by playing Public Service Broadcasting’s The Race For Space, and are greeted with a smooth but bold midrange, throwing forward John F Kennedy’s speech that opens the album as an indicator of its priority for highlighting melody and hooks. While that emphasis continues, it isn’t really until third track Gagarin that we get our first proper taste of that sinewy punch.
The track’s energy plays straight into the Audio L Plus’s hands, allowing it to throw its weight around and drive on with conviction. It isn’t quite the dance music you may associate with Ministry of Sound, but highlights particularly well the impetus their products are so often able to offer a groove.
Bass for your taste
There is a lot of bruising bass weight here, but Ministry of Sound appears to have been careful in not letting it become incessant. It is always at hand to keep more placid tracks such as The Other Side awake, but is able to rein in its enthusiasm a little so as not to misinterpret the character of the music.
It isn’t all rosy, however. While the throwing forward of the midrange brings melody to the fore, the rest of the Audio L Plus’s soundstage lacks insight. There is relatively little detail beneath the main tune – that, coupled with a shortage of dynamic expression, leaves the overall sound (though it’s rather exciting) feeling just a little cold.
Even the more energetic tracks we play – by a range of artists from Beck to Blind Faith – are well driven, but not particularly expressive.
Welcome to the club
We understand why Ministry of Sound’s focus is what it is – the two free tickets to its London club are a giveaway as to its target audience here – but, pitted against competitors who are more balanced all-rounders, it loses some ground.
Given the Audio L Plus’s strengths, some extra care with detail and dynamics could make for an extremely engaging, electric listen. But even though it lacks these characteristics, this remains a worthwhile investment for those who want a multi-room system with added kick.
Whatever your view on Ministry of Sound’s sonic blueprint, the uniformity across wireless speakers makes for a cohesive multi-room system.
Functionality is uncomplicated. You have to add each speaker to the network individually, but are walked through the process. Similarly, there are no issues when grouping or playing different tracks through separate speakers, and they work fine in tandem for stereo.
As for multi-room, it’s a simple set-up, no dropouts and a set of wireless speakers which act as a perfect foil for each other. If you are a fan of Ministry of Sound’s trademark acoustics, you will like what is an intuitive and wellbalanced multi-room system.
Not a suave kitchen
appliance, the MOS
Audio L Plus is the
grown up of its
With weight on
drums and bass,
the Audio M Plus
follows the MOS