STEREO GUIDE verdict
+ balanced reproduction, beautiful voices
+ rich bass, amazing dynamics
+ very well done retro design
- no real stereo sound image
- little functionality for a home speaker
Sound: naturalness / transparency7.9
Sound: Bass / Dynamics8.1
Practice / Connectivity7.8
Price / Line8.4
In terms of size, the Marshall Acton II resembles its mobile counterpart as if cut from the spec sheet. However, the Kilburn II, which we already tested , is optimized for mobile use with a battery and carrying handle, while the Acton II is a pure home model. However, the appearance and detailing of the cabinet excited us even more here, the smallest model in Marshall’s home series really brings the feel of the legendary guitar amps into the living room.
The rotary controls for volume as well as for bass and treble give a truly analog operating feel. Unlike the Kilburn II, the knobs have no stop, because they are not analog potentiometers. So they can be operated with the Marshall Bluetooth app which also offers sound presets. The leatherette-covered case in retro design is really well made. A champagne-colored Marshall lettering and an equal trim over the retro fabric cover make the Acton II a jewel in the living room, available in black or white.
Technical data and ingredients
Of course, a real Marshall also requires dynamic music, and the Acton II offers three quite powerful amplifier channels with internal fully active separation: 30 watts for the woofer and two times 15 watts additional for the tweeters are an announcement. The manufacturer does not provide explicit specs about the circuitry, and the front cover is also absolutely opaque. However, it seems to be a classic stereo arrangement with two tweeters each at the edge of the frontal baffle. A bass reflex tube on the back serves as acoustic support in the low frequencies.
Besides the three analog controls, there are only two buttons: One for source selection, one for play/pause. In addition, there is a classic toggle switch for on/off, but it had a bit too much play for us, and an AUX input.
How the music comes to the Marshall Acton 2
With Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless playback, the Marshall leaves nothing to be desired in terms of connection stability. It also switches between two simultaneously connected mobile devices with its multihost option.
As an additional feature, it offers a 3.5 mm jack input for analog sources. Otherwise, it is really puristic, because there are no other functions. Even with the free Marshall Bluetooth app for iOS and Android, the functions remain manageable. For example, you can switch the speaker to standby mode remotely or individualize the sound with an equalizer. But who wants a touch screen when a Bluetooth speaker has such nice, nostalgic rotary potentiometers for bass and treble?
Lots of pressure, bass and fun in the listening test
The high expectations for a dynamic performance were met by the Acton II, which looked quite compact in the living room visited for the test. The sovereignty in the bass suggested a much bigger speaker, and the dynamics were beyond reproach, even if it should get a bit louder in rooms.
In addition, the smallest of the three home marshalls delivered a pleasingly balanced reproduction: clear in the mids and silvery in the highs, it clearly set itself apart from its mobile counterpart, the Killburn II, which quickly calls for a twist of the tone controls. We particularly liked the intonation of the voices via Acton II: they sounded rich, appealing and well-balanced, even if not with the last bit of high-fidelity subtlety. For indoor sound reinforcement in a stylish dress, the Marshall Acton II cut a very good figure. Its suggestion of room imaging was up to par, but of course doesn’t replace a stereo system or soundbar.
Verdict and alternatives to the Marshall Acton II
Those who love retro design will not bother with other Bluetooth speakers in this class anyway. At best with one of the larger Marshall models like the Stanmore II, which costs half as much and takes up significantly more space, without advancing sonically into a new dimension. Or the Klipsch Heritage One II, which we haven’t reviewed yet but alreasy listened to.
Specifications: Marshall Acton 2
- Manufacturer’s suggested retail price: 270 euros
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 26 x 16 x 15 cm
- Weight: 2,85 kg
- Special features: Analog input, analog tone/volume controls
- More at: www.marshallheadphones.com