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Marshall Emberton 2 review

The sound is warm with a large 360-degree soundstage, surpassing almost all other speakers in this class that we tested. Indoors, the speaker gets too loud at maximum volume unless you have an exceptionally large room.

There is an absurdly large selection of Bluetooth speakers available. If we’re being brutally honest, the majority aren’t much to look at yet are just OK for casual listening. By leveraging the company’s illustrious heritage as one of the most famous names in live rock ‘n’ roll, Marshall’s line of portables deftly avoids the generic speaker trap. For 2022, it has revised its Emberton speaker, which is now the $170 Emberton II, and added the even more diminutive and portable Willen ($120).

These two speakers therefore already have a lot going for them from a size and design perspective. They are even capable of playing outside of their individual limitations, and we spent a lot of time with them to discover just how far they might push themselves. But does Marshall’s inclusion of features and performance in the Emberton II and Willen justify their higher price points.

They all unbox in the same way, revealing the same contents while being different speakers. There is nothing else inside than the user instructions and USB-C charging cable. Although I’ll discuss that further down, these speakers aren’t exactly designed to function with accessories.

Marshall Emberton 2 review: Design

The Marshall Emberton 2 features the company’s recognisable amp-like design, which is purportedly produced in 50% of recycled plastic. Although it also comes in cream, we tested the black and brass variant. We feel fairly confident that it would survive a few bumps and scrapes because it is nice to grip, feels big and durable, and has a rubberized covering. It is rather small and lightweight (68 x 160 x 76 mm, 1.5 lbs), which is a tad on the hefty side for a portable speaker. However, it is still small and lightweight enough to be carried in the hand and placed in a bag.

It is rated IP67 for both water and dust resistance. This means that you may submerge it in fresh water for up to 30 minutes at a depth of one metre, and it will live. You can thus place it near the pool (like one of our top waterproof speakers), and everything will be OK. Controls are amazingly easy to use. The Bluetooth pairing button is located on top, and a red light indication is located next to it to indicate when you are connected. A USB-C port is located directly across from the side-mounted 10 tiny red LED bars that indicate the remaining battery life.

The centre has a golden button that resembles a joystick because of its gorgeous, grooved texture. Toggle the speaker on or off by pressing hard down on it. Swipe left or right to change tracks. Push it up or down (more gently) to adjust the volume. Utilizing the Marshall Emberton 2 was fairly simple. Since there is nothing complicated to memorise and these controls are simple, we quickly became accustomed to them.

Marshall Emberton 2 review: Features and battery life

We were quite pleased with the user experience when we first paired the Emberton II. On our Android phone, the speaker appeared instantly, and we were also encouraged to download the Marshall app. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. On the other side, the software itself isn’t as amazing. There are only two things you can do with it: choose an EQ preset or switch to Stack mode.

Marshall, Push, and Voice settings are among the options. We have been raving about the speaker’s trademark sound throughout this article because it is typical for the speaker to play with the Marshall EQ turned on. The Voice EQ, on the other hand, expands the vocal range for audiobooks and podcasts, which can occasionally be useful.

Last but not least, the Push EQ is designed to increase the bass and treble for a stronger sound, but to our opinion, it simply sounds much worse. We’d suggest just keeping with the Marshall preset because the vocals are subdued and the mids are muddy. Although stack mode is a new feature, we were unable to test it out because we only had one speaker available for testing. In essence, you can stack as many Emberton II speakers as you want to make a larger, louder speaker if you have several Emberton II speakers.

It’s an intriguing decision to choose the stacking method over the possibility to build a stereo pair, but given the speaker’s 360-degree output, it might make the most sense. It can then mimic the aesthetic of Marshall’s renowned stacked amplifiers.

Marshall Emberton 2 review: Software

Additionally, there’s Stack Mode, which Marshall refers to as the capacity to use many speakers simultaneously. It’s an intriguing variation on using several of the same speakers together, but in a vertical stack as opposed to as a stereo pair. Although I can kind of understand the justification given that the speaker is sort of producing 360 degree sound, I don’t believe many people would actually purchase numerous Emberton II speakers for this.

By using the Marshall Bluetooth app, which is compatible with this speaker, you can activate this feature. The app itself is quite basic. There are three EQ presets, Stack Mode activation, firmware upgrades, and that’s about it. The speaker still only supports the SBC codec, although connectivity has been somewhat upgraded from Bluetooth 5.0 to Bluetooth 5.1.

Marshall Emberton 2 review: Sound quality

The original Emberton was a good-sounding speaker with a smooth, lively operation in the well-honed Marshall style, but it lacked some clarity and midrange detail. Although the Emberton II is identical in appearance, has the same driver configuration, and is powered by the same amplifier, it sounds as though Marshall has retuned the speaker to produce better clarity from the mid-range upwards.

If you pay close attention to the distinctions, which can be anything from slight to pretty prominent, you will eventually hear them. The Emberton II arranges the soundstage differently; vocals have a sharper quality and are thrust above the rest of the audio, as if they had been compressed and positioned further away from danger. The Emberton II typically performs vocals better than the original. When hearing Hostile Gospel, Pt.1 – Deliver Us by Talib Kweli, the mid-range and vocal delivery seem recessed in comparison to the album’s predecessor.

Treble notes in Another Witch is Dead from the 1612 Underture have a slightly different tone; they are slightly crisper and cleaner. The change is more noticeable in GoGo Penguin’s Raven, where the upper end of the frequency spectrum is better understood because to increased clarity and detail.

Marshall Emberton 2 review: Price & Availability

The Emberton II is more expensive than its predecessor, as was stated at the beginning. It now costs $169/£149, up from $149/£129. It’s not a tremendous sum, and inflation is probably to responsible for the most of it.

Despite moving further away from affordable options, the speaker is still a terrific deal and continues to be less expensive than many competitors from brands like Bang & Olufsen, Bose, and Sonos speakers. You can purchase it through Marshall as well as Amazon and BestBuy in the US. There is the official store, Amazon, Currys, and John Lewis in the UK.

One difference, as is frequently the case in the tech industry, is that the old model is now less expensive – officially £109 (though weirdly not in the US), so if the Emberton II’s new features don’t interest you, you may pick up a deal. For more possibilities, see our comparison of the top Bluetooth speakers.

Final words

There aren’t many features, but the Marshall Emberton II has everything you actually need, therefore I can’t recommend it enough. It is simple to operate, waterproof, and has a long-lasting battery. The only thing I would have changed is to add some manual equaliser adjustments in addition to the pre-programmed sound patterns. Having said that, it is still advantageous to have some control over the audio that is present this time around because the original Emberton lacked it.

The Marshall Emberton II is one of my favourite amplifiers because it puts all of its attention on the music, which is what matters most, and it doesn’t let its compact size compromise the quality of the sound.

James Hogan
James Hogan is a senior staff writer at Bollyinside, where he has been covering various topics, including laptops, gaming gear, keyboards, storage, and more. During that period, they evaluated hundreds of laptops and thousands of accessories and built a collection of entirely too many mechanical keyboards for their own use.

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The original Emberton I was a great speaker, but the II is nearly perfect. It's affordable, sounds great, looks great, and is one of the easiest decisions we have ever made. The sound of this little vintage beast is boomy, clear, and has ruined many other Bluetooth speakers for us.Marshall Emberton 2 review