Ministry of Sound is first and foremost an audio brand. What's clear from my testing of the Audio L Plus is that it's most definitely not a technological brand.
The Audio L Plus sounds great as it squeezes tunes out through its beefy driver units. But when it comes to all the other vital aspects of a functional, user-friendly device, it doesn't impress anywhere near as much.
The the Audio L Plus is a connected stereo speaker, able to play from almost all sources you can think of. Whether via the classic 3.5mm analogue connection in the back, a Bluetooth aptX input from your hi-res audio player, tablet or phone or through your home Wi-Fi network and Spotify Connect, Ministry's funky chunky speaker should have you covered.
It also boasts a multiroom system which allows you to group matching Ministry of Sound devices – either another Audio L Plus, the Audio M Plus or Audio S Plus.
Set in the front of the Audio L Plus, behind that curved grill, are a pair of 4.5-inch drivers and a pair of 1-inch tweeters set directly above them. Between the stereo drivers is a single 4.5-inch bass reflex port.
Because, damn it, this is Ministry of Sound and if it can't push out pounding bass what's the point in having direct access to the company's flagship superclub in London?
Yup, as well as having access to the Ministry of Sound radio station, its speakers also offer a livestream of whatever's going down at the club when it's open for business. For the voracious clubber, or the lapsed one who wishes they hadn't gotten old and that life would stop getting in the way, it's a welcome feature and one unique to this speaker.
The controls are all touch-based, arrayed around the MoS logo on the top of the Audio L Plus. Swipe to the left or right and it will skip the track, touch it once and it will play/pause, or double tap to access the Ministry radio or live club features. Volume control is a little trickier, requiring you to circle the logo clockwise or anticlockwise with your finger to adjust it.
But as it's a connected speaker you're going to have to go through some setup shenanigans before you can get your music playing. The easiest method is to simply jam a cable into the back of the box and go analogue. But who wants to do that when you've just spent £300 on a wireless speaker?
So your next best bet is Bluetooth. Connecting is as simple as ever, and you can connect via NFC too if you bash your device on that MoS logo atop the Audio L Plus. It's also rocking the latest aptX protocols to allow CD-quality streaming over that Bluetooth connection if you've got a compatible source device too.
From there on though things get a little more complex. For Wi-Fi connectivity you need to go get the MoS Controller app from either Apple's App Store or the Google Play Store.
And to be honest, it's not great.
This is where you connect your device to the Wi-Fi network so you can get on the internet radio or Spotify Connect tip. To be fair the installation procedure is pretty well illustrated via the app, though I ran into problems trying to connect to a BT router.
After following the instructions, it claimed I was now connected… except I really wasn't. However, running through the setup on a different Asus router worked perfectly.
What wasn't so effective was trying to get the multiroom function working with a smaller Audio M Plus speaker. Creating the group is relatively straightforward if both speakers are already set up on the same network. However, playing the same music though isn't.
It's not hugely intuitive and I had issues selecting the group and then choosing the audio source. Sometimes one or the other speaker would fall out of the group and it took a few attempts at creating and releasing groups before I could get Radio 6 Music in separate rooms.
Thankfully though Ministry of Sound has recently updated its speaker range so that you can now set up a multiroom Spotify Connect array – rectifying a glaring omission from the original launch.
Once I had the grouping set up it did work pretty well over the Wi-Fi connection, though it needs a strong signal to avoid the pops, crackles and drop-outs I experience when a few walls were between the devices and the nearest router.
Easy multiroom, this ain't.
Though how many folk actually use the multiroom feature on their products? It's a tick box on the spec sheet, but as a must-have feature? I'm guessing comparatively few.
So then it really all comes down to the audio performance and the Audio L Plus is an impressively powerful device in those regards.
Ministry of Sound prides itself on the sound system in its club so putting its name to a ropy-sounding speaker would be a really bad move. Thankfully the Bullitt-designed Audio L Plus has got the goods.
First, and probably foremost for a MoS speaker, the bass response is powerful and deep. But crucially it doesn't end up muddying the rest of the audio with its power. So often we hear overpowering bass crushing everything else.
The mid-range does tend to a little harshness at high volumes and at lower volumes lacks some depth, but overall the sound clarity is excellent.
Though, going back to the question of volume, if you were hoping the Audio L Plus would be sufficient for your house party needs, you might find yourself disappointed. I kept finding myself wanting to turn it up when faced with an impromptu gathering, only to realise it was already at full volume.