STEREO GUIDE verdict
+ natural tuning for appealing voice reproduction
+ comparatively deep, contoured basses
+ remarkably fine, fresh treble reproduction for a full-range concept
+ Sound detaches well from the small cabinet, stage amazingly big
+ long battery life, great processing
- no analog input
Sound: naturalness / transparency7.7
Sound: Bass / Dynamics7
Practice / Connectivity8.3
This summer, Marshall is heating us up with a whole new line of Bluetooth speakers. Among them are only two mobile. Riner of them, the small Marshall Emberton 2, which we put through its paces here in the review, is slightly narrower than the JBL Flip 6. However, its angular shape gives it a similar volume. Compared to the US speaker, which is also a premium product, the noble British speaker is expensive. The manufacturer’s recommended price is an impressive 170 Euros.
However, if you look at the ranks of the not-so-big names for comparison, you will notice that you can already buy much bigger and heavier Bluetooth speakers for less money. Even the JBL Charge 5, which is still quite a bit bigger, is cheaper despite its equally traditional name. But if you are specifically looking for a compact, stylish Bluetooth speaker for the expensive brand handbag and are served well with the Emberton 2.
Marshall once again puts the Emberton 2 on noble grace with style quotes of the legendary guitar amplifiers of Jim Marshall (1923 – 2012), which older still know and love from live performances of cult bands like Deep Purple from the 70s. As nostalgic as the wireless speaker with its baffle, including the attached logo, may seem. The high-tech retro gadget is also contemporary in terms of sustainability. The plastic surface, which feels as soft as a car dashboard, with its leather embossing imitating guitar amps, is partly made of recycled plastic.
Improvements in detail
The new Emberton 2 now meets the IP67 protection class. So it’s not just for 30 minutes of swapping in up to a meter of water. Unlike the predecessor, which could only boast IPX7, it is also fully protected against dust.
This is matched by the brass-colored switch-on button made of real metal. It also feels high-quality, although the additional tilt function for starting or pausing playback, skipping tracks of the volume control makes for a certain sponginess, which minimally diminishes the excellent quality impression.
Can now even longer than the old
However, with 700 grams of weight, it again underlines its solidity. Not only the two stereo speaker chassis inside are responsible for this. But also an official battery for a specified operating time of 30 hours. In our experience with the Marshall Emberton 2, this is a bit of an exaggeration, as is the case with most of its competitors. But just under 20 hours are possible under real conditions. And that is really a very good practical value for a Bluetooth speaker of this size.
For charging, the included USB cable has to be plugged into the USB-C port on the right side. It is the only port of the wireless box that has only one Bluetooth 5.1 interface with the standard SBC codec. The Marshall Emberton 2 is compatible with the Marshall Bluetooth app, available free for iOS or Android.
Marshall’s app is made smart
This expands the possibilities of the simple and noble small Bluetooth speaker, for example, with an equalizer with three presets: “Marshall” (standard, balanced), “Press” and “Voice” (voice emphasis). The equalizer presets are well done for the respective purposes. Unfortunately, this is not a matter of course. However, when “Press”, the EQ takes back the mids rather than boosting the bass. After all, such small, bass-strong Bluetooth speakers exhaust the possibilities of their tiny membranes to the bursting point anyway.
Otherwise, the app, whose registration is fortunately voluntary, allows over-the-air updates for the firmware. The app also allows two smartphones or tablets to be connected to the speaker simultaneously in multi-hosting mode via Bluetooth. Furthermore, you can form Bluetooth speaker towers with the stack mode (comparable to a party mode). Just as you know it from the Marshall amp brand from live concerts. Here, the retro shape really has an advantage over the “cola cans” from JBL and Co. Stereo pairing of two Emberton 2 is not provided. However, this would not make sense because of the special driver arrangement in the small Marshall.
Stereo, but not as we know it
As far as the drivers are concerned, Marshall goes its own way with the Emberton 2, as it did with its predecessor. Called “True Stereophonic” in the advertising slogan, the manufacturer follows the principle of Blumlein stereophony, as with the mid-sized Marshall Kilburn 2.
One of the two 2-inch full-range radiators supported by two passive bass radiators still radiates in front, the other one is offset by 180 degrees to the rear. (Hence the rear covering of the speaker cabinet). This is not a bad idea, especially for such a small Bluetooth speaker. This distribution of the stereo signal results in a comparatively large image of the musical performance, detached from the speaker, despite the tiny cabinet. This does cost some sound pressure in free placement or in an anechoic measurement lab. But it also frees the music from the box at the same time.
How does the Marshall Emberton perform in the listening test?
This brings us to the middle of the listening test. When a cool guitar riff puts the speaker in the right mood, we are amazed at what the little box is capable of. Not only does it sound sunny warm, rich and yet clear in the highs. It also produces a surprisingly rich, deep and also still contoured bass for its dimensions.
To be honest: Marshall, whose Bluetooth speakers are produced under the direction of Zound Industries International (the Swedes are also behind Urbanears), has been good for the opposite surprises so far. For example, the Kilburn 2 tested a long time ago seemed a bit tired for its stately size, weight and actually acoustically ideal case. People reached for the bass and treble controls to give it a little more oomph, and not just because of the great feel of its rotary potentiometers. But that still didn’t make him a party box, which his truly stage-ready visual appearance suggested.
Wow effect guaranteed
Despite its compact dimensions, the successor of the best-selling Bluetooth speaker with the famous Marshall logo not only cuts an impeccable figure with balanced, expressive voice reproduction of rock music from the best Deep Purple times.
We also fed it hip hop and electro in the listening test – after all, we’re not stuck in the last century. Even with the electronic beats, the small Bluetooth box coped very well. The compact Tronsmart T7 Mini, which was then used for an A/B comparison, got the full brunt. The speaker, which is very decent for the low price, did not come close to this level. So we went straight for the bestseller JBL Flip 6, which has already outperformed many much bigger Bluetooth speakers.
Marshall Emberton 2 vs JBL Flip 6: Battle of the best
With him it became an exciting duel at eye level. The JBL does make slightly more bass, but the Marshall seems earthier and blacker at the lower end of the listening range. As far as harmonics are concerned, the Emberton 2 can hold its own against the Flip 6’s 2-way system equipped with a dome tweeter, despite its full-range drivers. The voices basically don’t give each other anything either, although the Flip has a slightly brighter and the Emberton a slightly darker timbre.
However, what is noticeable when switching the two comparison candidates: The true stereophonic configuration of the Marshall Emberton 2 adds a bit more depth to the imaging. An extended spatiality upwards and sideways blows the imaginary listening stage amazingly wide open. However, the process also ensures that the Marshall appears somewhat more diffuse than the very direct JBL, depending on the particular recording.
However, this effect only comes to the fore directly after switching these two top performers among the small Bluetooth speakers. In itself, the Emberton 2 sounds very coherent and also exceedingly authentic for this flyweight class. Worries that the rear speaker will cause problems if you place the Marshall close to the wall are unfounded in contrast to bass-strong hi-fi speakers. On the contrary, you can even influence the bass and staging naturally to taste by experimenting with the wall distance.
A little tip at the end
If the set-up fits, then you can experience rock classics like Deep Purple“Highway Star” or“Smoke On The Water” from the live album“Made In Japan” with an intensity, authenticity, radiance and a bass foundation with really sonorous drums, as you would never have expected from such a tiny briquette. Especially when you consider that it does not handle AptX or AAC and uses the frowned upon SBC standard codec. We warmly recommend this little history lesson with a lesson in guitar rock to younger ones as well!
Conclusion and alternatives to the Marshall Emberton 2
Often, the very attractively designed Marshall speakers could only partially fulfill the high expectations associated with the visual appearance in the ears of the author of this review. The new Marshall Emberton 2, however, leaves you literally bass astonished. Its high touch quality and its really nicely implemented retro concept do the rest.
Alternatives? Those who listen to more rock and pop should have a bit more fun with the Marshall. And those who are more into hip hop or electro, with the JBL Flip 6. The bottom line is that the two give each other next to nothing.
Specifications: Marshall Emberton II
- Manufacturer’s suggested retail price: 169 euros
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 16 x 18 x 7 cm
- Weight: 1,38 kg
- Battery life up to 20 hours
- Features: IP67 water and dust protection, Marshall Bluetooth app, stack mode, multi-host with two smartphones, available in black or white.
- More at: www.marshallheadphones.com