Marshall Emberton II Review – A Small but mighty portable Bluetooth speaker

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Marshall Emberton II Review Rating

Summary

The Marshall Emberton II is undeniably a good portable Bluetooth speaker. It looks beautiful, the build quality feels superb, and the sound quality is excellent for such a small speaker.

Overall
80%
80%
  • Overall - 80%
    80%

Pros

  • Superb sound quality for such a small speaker
  • Beautiful and durable design
  • 30 hour battery life

Cons

  • Quite expensive
  • No 3.5mm &
  • SBC only

The Marshall Emberton launched a couple of years ago and has been a universally well-reviewed speaker thanks to its attractive retro design and excellent sound quality.

The Marshall Emberton II has some small but useful improvements, and this continues to be a superb choice for anyone looking for a premium but small portable speaker.

Specification

  • Drivers:
    • Two 2″ 10 W full range
    • Two passive radiators
  • Amplifier: Two 10 W Class D amplifiers
  • Frequency Range: 60-20,000 Hz
  • Codec: SBC
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1
  • Battery
    • 30+ hours
    • 20 mins for 4 hours quick charge
    • 3 hours full charge
  • IP Rating: IP67
  • Dimensions: 68 x 160 x 76 mm
  • Weight: 0.7 kg

Marshall Emberton II vs Original Emberton

The Marshall Emberton II is an incremental upgrade to the original Emberton and has been launched at the same RRP. However, the Emberton is currently available on Amazon for £119 and is well worth considering.

I haven't used the original, but the overall speaker specification is the same, and I expect the overall sound will be the same if not very similar.

This new generation has Stack Mode, so you can amplify your session by connecting to other Emberton II speakers.

The newer Emberton II upgrades the battery significantly to 30 hours vs 20, and it upgrades the Bluetooth connectivity to 5.1 vs 5.0.

You have a little extra reassurance with its durability thanks to the IP67 rating vs IPX7, which guarantees dust resistance as well as excellent water resistance.

Design & Features

The overall design of this speaker is one of its main selling points. You could argue that the black speaker I received isn't that much different to any generic black cuboid Bluetooth speaker. But, the speaker grill, marshall logo, buttons and rounded corners raise this well above the boring design of cheaper alternatives. You also have two colours to choose from, Black & Brass or Cream.

The overall build quality feels superb, everything is rubberised, and it feels like you could throw it around without damaging it, but I haven't tried that, nor would I recommend it.

This is limited to Bluetooth connectivity, and it is only SBC. It would be nice to have 3.5mm, but I assume that makes the IP rating more difficult, and it is not like many phones have 3.5mm jacks anymore.

Pairing and App

This speaker features Google Fast Pair, which makes a refreshing change from having to go into the Bluetooth menu to pair up. As soon as I powered on the speaker, my Pixel 6 showed a pop-up to pair notification. Once connected, it also informed me to download the Marshall app.  

The Marshall App looks pretty but doesn't really offer much. You can stack speakers together for a bigger sound, but I haven't tested this. Then there is an EQ, which has just three pre-set options, none of which make a huge difference to the overall sound.

Sound Quality & Comparisons vs Edifier MP230

I have reviewed a few other portable Bluetooth speakers recently, all of which have been quite a bit cheaper than this.

I tested two similarly sized/power speakers against this. The attractive Edifier MP230 has a similar 2x10W speaker design, while the cheap-as-chips Tronsmart T7 is quite a bit more powerful at 30W total.

The Marshall Emberton II is a good example of why you shouldn't judge performance based on specification alone.

I connected all three speakers and used the output selection on my phone to quickly switch between them during certain tracks.

The Tronsmart T7 is certainly the loudest, and it is significantly better than the other two for its bass. But, switching between the speakers, it became apparent how badly the bass would muddy all the other frequencies. The speaker sounds good for bassy tracks, and I liked it for hip hop, but it didn't sound very good in comparison to anything else. Overall, it's good for the price but is poor in comparison to the other two speakers.

The Edifier MP230 sat somewhere in the middle, it has a decent amount of bass, but it doesn't muddy up the other frequencies quite as much. However, I found that it doesn't sound as refined as the Emberton II.

The Marshall Emberton II had the least powerful bass, but it excelled everywhere else. In particular, I found that vocals were significantly clearer and instruments were much more detailed. While this lacked the bass, I found that it didn't have aggressively sharp highs or tinniness that many small speakers suffer from.

Of course, there is a big price difference between the speakers. The Marshal costs over £100 more than the Tronsmart. So I expected nothing less than significantly better performance.

The Marshal app allows you to tweak the EQ, but it is a very small change. Switching to the push mode, which enhances bass, I struggled to notice any difference at all. I had to switch back to the main profile and back again before I noticed the very small uplift in the low end. The treble-enhanced profile is more pronounced but still quite subtle.

Price and Alternative Options

The Marshall Emberton II has an RRP of £149.99, and you can get the original Emberton from Amazon for £119.

The Sonos Roam is a tempting alternative if you are already committed to the Sonos ecosystem. This costs the same as the Marshall Emberton II. The battery life isn't great, but it has WiFi connectivity. They don't say much about the drivers other than it has a mid-woofer and tweeter plus two Class-H digital amplifiers.

An alternative premium price speaker is the Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 (2nd Gen) for around £230. This manages to be more powerful with 2x30W yet lighter at 558g as well as having superior codec support with AAC and aptX Adaptive. The Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore is more affordable at around £170 but physically larger, less attractive and limited to the SBC code.

Overall

The Marshall Emberton II is undeniably a good portable Bluetooth speaker. It looks beautiful, the build quality feels superb, and the sound quality is excellent for such a small speaker.

It is, however, priced on the premium end of the spectrum. Considering the overall aesthetics and performance, I think it does enough to justify this price. However, unless you plan to stack multiple speakers, I’d consider the more affordable original Emberton.

Last update on 2023-01-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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