Ministry of Sound Audio S Plus review: A suave, sleek Bluetooth speaker
The Ministry of Sound was practically the beating heart of 1990s club culture in the UK. It’s where everyone who was someone went, it was the place any DJ or musician worth their weight played, and it’s even where Sony made playing video games cool with the PlayStation.
Since the 1990s, the club has moved on, expanding into bigger and better ventures than providing drug-addled clubbers with the next banging beat. And part of that expansion has been a move into consumer audio hardware. We recently reviewed the multiroom Audio L and M Plus speakers, but this time it’s the turn of the firm’s compact £130 Bluetooth speaker, the Ministry of Sound Audio S Plus.
Ministry of Sound Audio S Plus: Sound quality
You can’t expect the sort of powerful, bass-heavy sound from this compact unit that the Audio M Plus delivers. The laws of physics get in the way of that, but from a cabinet this small, the S Plus certainly whacks out sound with plenty of volume and authority.
Behind the plain, grey grill, sit twin 2in drivers and a passive bass radiator, and with the right music they sound rather good. The treble is punchy and sharp, only occasionally becoming strained if you turn the volume up to the max. Mids are full-bodied and warm – it’s great for most types of music, and wonderful for radio and podcasts.
My acid test for bass – the Chemical Brothers’ 1999 hit “Under the Influence” – puts more stress on the S Plus. It can’t quite recreate the warm throb the record deserves, with bass rolling off around the 55Hz mark. Again, though, it’s worth underlining the fact that, for such a small speaker, it would be foolish to expect much more. In any case, there is some bass, and the presence of the higher-quality AptX audio codec certainly helps music sound its best.
Ministry of Sound Audio S Plus: Design and features
At first glance, the Audio S Plus looks generic, even humdrum, but closer inspection reveals hidden depths. Somehow, Ministry of Sound has managed to bring together premium design elements with minimalist aesthetics and made it work.
Two big honeycomb metal speaker grilles dominate each side of the speaker, making it hard to tell front from back. Framing them, you have polished metal, available in either grey or a (somewhat gaudy) bronze, and wrapped around the whole speaker edge is a chunky “rubber band” to maintain the Audio S Plus’ IPX4 splashproof rating.
The rubber band is also smartly designed, providing complete access to all the S Plus’ buttons and NFC functionality, as well as ensuring visibility of the Bluetooth status light. It can also be removed and replaced with the alternative provided in the box for a different look.
Removing the rubber band exposes the S Plus’ 3.5mm line-in and micro-USB charging ports, and allows you to attach the bundled speaker stand. Moreover, if you have the spare cash, you can buy two Audio S Plus speakers and link them together wirelessly as a stereo pair. All in all, the S Plus is smart and thoughtfully designed.
Ministry of Sound Audio S Plus: Verdict
There’s a lot to like about the Audio S Plus. Its design is sleek and stylish, the NFC pairing is great for those who can’t stand faffing around with manual pairing, AptX support ensures the best possible wireless audio quality, while the 3.5mm analogue input gives it plenty of flexibility.
The issue I have with it is that, at £130, it’s looks initially quite pricey for a speaker this small. Still, the decent sound quality coupled with weather-proofing and all those features, mean the value isn’t actually all that bad.
Also looking for a decent pair of headphones? Check out our roundup of the five best in-ear headphones on the market.
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