Marshall just released two new Bluetooth speakers, and I’m already reaching for my wallet.
Let’s start with the new Willen, a pint-sized speaker meant for travel. Marshall’s first true ultra-compact unit, the Willen has a single two-inch full-range driver paired with two passive radiators. Though smaller than the other offerings, this tiny speaker follows Marshall’s signature design aesthetic, flaunting gold accents against a black (or white) metal and faux leather exterior.
At 4 x 4 x 1.6 inches and 0 kg, the squircle-shaped Bluetooth speaker can be easily slipped into a bag or attached to the outside using its rubber back-mounted strap. It has IP67 dust- and water-resistance, so you can use it outdoors without worrying. Marshall rates the Willen’s battery life at 15 hours, which tops the category leader, Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 (13 hours).
Joining the Willen is the Emberton II, the sequel to my favourite Bluetooth speaker, one I listen to at home and occasionally take on trips. Marshall improved the Emberton in almost every way, increasing its battery life, adding a stack mode, and debuting app support.
Starting with the battery life, the Emberton II is said to get 30 hours on a charge, a 50% increase over the previous version’s 20-hour runtime. When the battery is running low, the Emberton supports quick charge for 4 hours of playback from a 20-minute charge.
Marshall suggests the Emberton II will maintain the same “signature sound” as the original, which is great news for my ears. That first model was one of the best-sounding Bluetooth speakers in its class, delivering powerful audio with an impressive soundstage. This follow-up promises to continue the tradition with a pair of two-inch drivers and two passive radiators for what Marshall promises to be powerful 360-degree audio.
Another welcome feature coming to both new models is Stack Mode, which allows you to pair the Emberton II with other Emberton II or Willen speakers. You can “stack” as many speakers as you like to create a more dynamic, immersive sound.
Measuring 2.7 x 6.3 x 3 inches and weighing a rather hefty 1 kg, the Emberton II is compact, but not as portable as the Willen. It now comes with an IP 67 rating, up from the IPX7 rating of the original. This means the new model can be submerged in three feet of water for up to 30 minutes.
Both the Emberton II and Willen use Bluetooth 5.1 and support over-the-air updates via a dedicated app. The Emberton II and Willen go on sale today starting at $US169 ($235) and $US119 ($165), respectively.