Marshall Emberton Speaker
Marshall Emberton Speaker

Marshall Emberton Speaker-Now Headphones has produced its smallest, battery-powered, wireless speaker yet, in a range of products that draws inspiration from the iconic Marshall guitar amplifier brand but made under license by Zound Industries.

The new speaker is called Emberton and Marshall claims that the dinky speaker can deliver an absolute 360° sound where every spot becomes the sweet spot. By separating out the spatial content of stereo recordings, Emberton can produce a sound that’s much louder and larger than its size would suggest. The press release accompanying the launch goes on to claim that this little speaker “outperforms most speakers in its class”.

Marshall Emberton Speaker

Despite its small stature, can play for 20+ hours on a single charge. Its compact size and rugged durability make it a perfect party and picnic partner. A quick 20-minute charge will deliver up to five hours of playing time, a handy feature if you’ve forgotten to charge the speaker before heading out. A bar-graph battery indicator on the top of the speaker makes it easy to keep an eye on the remaining battery level. Charging is via the supplied USB-C cable.

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Marshall Emberton Design

Marshall Emberton Design

The brick-shaped Emberton is available in black, with a gray metallic mesh grille on its front face, along with the familiar white script Marshall logo. It’s quite compact at 2.7 by 6.3 by 3.0 inches (HWD), but surprisingly heavy (1.5 pounds) for its size. Marshall manages to retain the retro look of previous models while giving the speaker a slightly modern feel as well. There’s a digital LED readout in red on the top panel (for battery status) providing the modern, and a central control panel with a brass finish for a touch of retro. The speaker is compatible with Bluetooth 5.0, and internally, dual 10-watt drivers are driven by a Class-D amplifier.

The central button is a responsive four-way rocker that handles volume up/down, and track backward/forward. Pressing it quickly controls playback, while longer presses power the speaker on and off. To the left of the central control is a Bluetooth pairing button. The bottom panel is lined with a rubber footing to keep the speaker stable on flat surfaces.

Marshall Emberton Performance

Marshall Emberton Speaker Performance

On tracks with intense sub-bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the Emberton delivers some full-sounding bass for its size—at moderate volumes. When you max out the volume, the DSP (digital signal processing) kicks in and while the speaker still outputs impressive volume, the bass hits thin out noticeably. This is to be expected for the size, though for the price you might want a little more bass oomph at top volumes—this is the trade-off you make for Emberton’s portability.

How We Test Speakers

Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with far less deep bass in the mix, gives us a better sense of the general sound signature. The drums on this track can sound thunderous on bass-forward speakers, but through they sound full and natural at moderate volumes, and a little thinner at top volumes. But at all volumes,

Callahan’s rich baritone gets plenty of low-mid presence and some crisp treble edge to keep things defined. The acoustic strums also get a bright, crisp presence.

On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop receives plenty of high-mid presence to keep its attack punchy, and we also hear perhaps a little more of the vinyl hiss and crackle that’s usually relegated to the background. The sub-bass synth hits are a little too deep for the Emberton to deliver—it doesn’t distort,

but even at moderate levels, these hits aren’t terribly powerful. The drum loop gets some beefed-up bass depth, however, and once again, at maximum volume, things thin out. The vocals on this track are delivered cleanly and clearly, without much-added sibilance.

Orchestral tracks, like the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, actually sound fantastic at top volumes. The DSP doesn’t do much damage here, with the lower-register instrumentation sounding full and rich in its anchoring role, while the higher-register brass, strings, and vocals remain crisp and clear. At more moderate levels, the bass steps forward a bit, but not in a way that overwhelms the mix.

Conclusions

Tiny, stylish, waterproof, and with more power than you’d expect from a speaker this small, Marshall Emberton is an ideal travel companion. In this price range, however, it has some serious competition, including the excellent new $150 Sony SRS-XB33 and the $140 JBL Charge 4, both of which are more powerful, but also much larger. For less money, the $100 Sony SRS-XB23 is also a strong option to consider. Ultimately, your decision here comes down to style and portability. If powerful audio is key, there are other waterproof models that bring more bass and volume to the party. But if you like the Marshall aesthetic and want something really compact, the Emberton won’t disappoint.

Specs

  • Channels Stereo
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Wi-Fi No
  • Multi-Room No
  • Physical Connections USB
  • Portable Yes
  • Water-Resistant Yes
  • Speakerphone No
  • Voice Assistant None

PROS

  • Powerful audio performance for the size
  • Cool, compact design
  • Waterproof

CONS

  • No speakerphone functionality
  • No aux input

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