Ministry of Sound's new MOSMC139IP is a micro CD system with integrated iPod docking and multimedia card compatibility. With its low price and Ministry of Sound name, it's sure to appeal to club fans and teenage clubbers-to-be.
Of course, low price can justify lower sound quality just as high cost suggests high quality. Regardless, £90 is still hard-earned money for most people and should be equally earned by a product.
For under £100, this system is fairly pleasant looking. Its construction suggests corners have been cut to keep the system affordable. One edge of the plastic iPod dock had risen away from the thin, slightly flexible metal casing of the main unit, and the plastic bass reflex port to the rear of each speaker easily came away from the hole it sits in. Standard plastic speaker wire brackets and FM aerial sockets sit securely on the system's rear, along with an air vent and phono outputs.
The wooden speaker enclosures are more satisfactorily constructed than the amp unit. Each speaker is nicely finished in black and have a faint smell of a secondary school craft workshop, suggesting the use of affordable wooden materials. This is no derogatory statement -- low-cost systems such as this must exploit cheaper materials to achieve their affordability and Ministry of Sound has done a nice job with presentation to compensate.
In an unusual move, surely catering for the Net Generation of kids, an SD card slot and USB socket take centre stage on the front of the main unit. A bunch of illuminous buttons feature also, along with an illuminated LCD display and a slide-loading CD drive.
One of the main selling points is the MOSMC139IP's iPod connectivity. Any iPod with a docking connector -- including the new nano, classic and touch models -- will dock comfortably. They'll also be charged whether the system is switched on or off -- bad news for the green amongst you. An FM radio with 40 presets sits in the mix, too, along with an enticing bass booster, separate bass/treble controls, a clock and some EQ presets.
Each speaker packs 10W of power driven by a 25mm tweeter and a 76mm woofer, the latter constructed from a paper cone with a woven nylon coating. The bass reflex port is approximately 64mm in diameter.
MP3 and WMA files of constant or variable bit rates can be
played from CD-ROMs, USB drives or SD cards. Alphabetical ordering is
applied, so God help you if you like ZZ Top, as they'll be
frustratingly at the end of your list and the system doesn't display
For a system with the ubiquitous-in-clubland Ministry of Sound name slapped on the front, we honestly expected a hell of a lot more bass, even for a lower-end system. The speakers aren't capable of reproducing well the heavy drum 'n' bass beats of Pendulum that we pumped through them. The pounding, driven bass lines of Tarantula sounded disappointingly washed out. At higher volumes the beats were more prominent but mild distortion crept in, wholly ruining any chance of us being any kind of impressed.
Next we tried Funky Monks, some classic Red Hot Chili Peppers from Blood Sex Sugar Magik. The beauty of this album lies not just in the songwriting but in the way it was recorded. The relentless punchiness of Chad Smith's snare drum and the red hot bounciness of Flea's trippy bass lines are only so well conveyed as a result of class 'A' production. Neither of these characteristics of this superb album are well reproduced here. Mids and highs are reprehensibly muddy and poorly defined.
However, without losing sight of the system's price, our criticism could be happily ignored by anyone who's after a loud, affordable and nice enough looking piece of equipment. It weighed hard on our minds though, that Griffin's terrific Amplifi system, while lacking a CD drive or a display, produced vastly superior, incredibly powerful audio and cost the same as Ministry of Sound's MOSMC139IP.
There's no doubt that this micro system's notably poor sound quality and questionable construction leaves a sizable amount to be desired. However, any teen on a budget looking for a fairly attractive and loud iPod-compatible system for their bedroom, will almost certainly approve.
If a CD player isn't a critical feature, consider Griffin's Amplifi. This dedicated 2.1 iPod speaker system boasts sound quality and power we'd expect of a £200 setup, yet it costs only £90. The built-in subwoofer packs a hell of a punch and build quality is truly second to none.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday