Over the past couple of years, one of the best-selling Bluetooth speakers on the market has been the fabulous Marshall Emberton. This cute little speaker packs an almighty punch for its size and it looks so cool, like a Marshall guitar amp in miniature form.
Zound Industries is the company that licenses the Marshall name and stamps it on a range of Bluetooth speakers, headphones and earbuds. The company has struck gold by using the iconic Marshall logo on its products. And with good reason, because most of the Marshall headphones and speakers that I’ve tested have been great products.
There’s an adage about not fixing things that aren’t broken, but with Marshall Emberton II, Zound Industries has decided to make what was already a great and successful product even better. But how on earth can you improve on a great-sounding speaker that’s built like a house brick and already has an impressive 20 hours of battery life? The Emberton II can be fully charged in just three hours, giving enough playing time for a weekend away in an Airbnb. If you forget to charge the battery, a 20-minute burst charge will provide up to four hours of playing time, enough for a leisurely picnic.
The first thing the designers of the Emberton II did was to make it look even more stylish by making the speaker grille black and adding that iconic Marshall logo in a stylish gold finish. The Emberton II looks so classy and I love how it looks even cooler now. In addition to its makeover, the Emberton II now has something called Stack Mode that enables it to pair with other Emberton II speakers like a Marshall guitar amp stack.
The new speaker now also has a choice of three new EQ settings that can be accessed using the downloadable Marshall smartphone app. Finally, the battery life of this little wonder has been bumped up to an amazing 30 hours, long enough to outlast the wildest of wild parties. Add into the mix the fact that the rugged little Emberton II is rated at IP67 which means it’s dust and water-resistant and can be dunked in up to one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. While you may not be planning on doing the rock star trick of throwing things in a swimming pool from your tour hotel balcony, the IP67 rating is great if it rains or you want to listen to music at the beach.
The new Emberton II has the same dimensions as its predecessor and weighs a manageable 700g. It’s just about small enough to stuff in a large coat pocket or to easily slip into a backpack. On its top plate there’s a brass multi-way controller incised with grooved concentric rings. The joystick-style controller can be used to adjust volume levels, pause the music, skip tracks or replay that tune that’s begging to be heard again. There’s a battery gauge consisting of 10 red LED rectangles that illuminate like a digital ladder to display how much battery charge is left. Finally, there’s a Bluetooth pairing button for easy connection with a wide range of devices.
What you don’t get on the new Emberton is a microphone so that it can function as a speakerphone. I’m not sure many people will be too worried about that. When was the last time you answered a call on your Bluetooth speaker? The other absent feature is a 3.5mm stereo jack for connecting an analog device. Once again, I’m not so sure that is such a dealbreaker in this age of wireless streaming. Does anyone still use a portable analog device like a cassette tape Walkman? No, I thought not.
Despite its compact size, the Emberton II packs as much punch per gram as a Marshall guitar amp. Inside this little speaker is a couple of 2-inch woofers and each is driven by its own amplifier rated at a respectable 10W. To handle the bass frequencies, there are a couple of passive radiators that provide the level of thump you need for a classic rock track. The sound emanates from the front and back, creating a 360˚ spatial effect that projects stereo sound all around it.
Crank up the volume and the Emberton II really kicks ass. It performs with a swagger when playing rock and the signature Marshall sound is perfect for most genres of music. There’s also a choice of three EQs available by using the downloadable Marshall app which is available for iOS and Android devices. The app can also be used to update the Emberton II’s firmware via an OTA (over-the-air) update.
New to the Emberton II is the Stack mode. This enables multiple Emberton II speakers to be connected so they work in unison producing even more sound. I couldn’t try the Stack Mode as I only had one Emberton II to review, but I can imagine this feature could be very impressive. Quite a few other Bluetooth speakers do something similar, including models from JBL and MiniRig.
Unfortunately, there’s no common standard within the Bluetooth protocol that enables different makes of speakers to be connected to each other. So, if you want a multi-speaker setup you do need to choose one brand of speaker and then stick to it. That wouldn’t bother me all that much as the Emberton II is a cracker of a wireless speaker and even better than its predecessor.
Verdict: The brand-new Marshall Emberton II is a fabulous little Bluetooth speaker. Marshall has managed to improve on what was already a great Bluetooth speaker. If you already own an Emberton, then I wouldn’t rush out to upgrade unless you want the extra 10 hours of battery life and the Stack Mode. However, if you don’t own an Emberton already and you’re looking for a new Bluetooth speaker, then the Marshall Emberton II is probably as good as it gets. Highly Recommended.
Pricing & Availability: Marshall Emberton II is available now and costs $169 / £149.99 / €169.
More info: marshallheadphones.com
- Dimensions: 68 x 160 x 76mm / 2.68 x 6.30 x 2.99in.
- Weight: 700g / 1.5 LB.
- Class D amplifier: 2 X 10W.
- Max SPL: 87dB SPL @ 1.m.
- Frequency response: 60 Hz – 20kHz.
- Time to full recharge: 3 hours.
- Waterproof rating: IP67