A pair of bookshelf speakers from Marley, or are they portable Bluetooth speakers, or something in between? We got sent a pair to try out, so let’s get into it.
- Bluetooth 5.0 w/ + BLE
- Wireless connection between the two
- One mains powered, one battery-powered with 20hours life
- USB C Charging
- RCA/AUX inputs
- Bamboo wood covering to the front
- As always with Marley, these are partly made from recycled materials.
When I first opened up the box, I was expecting bookshelf speakers, somewhat big, heavy, something that would sit on a bookshelf. These are somewhat smaller than expected, which has its pros and cons. Size-wise they are 8 x 4 x 5 inches (HxWxD). The front of the speaker is about the same size as my hand, thicker of course, small enough for me to be able to pick up with one hand. I imagine they’re wood constructed, with a fabric wrapping around the sides, rubber feet to the base and bamboo wood to the front and rear. To the front of each speaker, you’ve got a 3.5” woofer, plus 1” tweeter, delivering a total of 20 watts each. To the rear, both have Aux in and RCA in, plus the power port. The left is mains powered via an adapter, while the right is battery powered and/or powered and charged via USB C. To the top of both speakers are the controls, power on/off, volume and content control, plus a Bluetooth button for pairing. Two small indicator lights to that flash at various times, showing what’s happening. There are also voice prompts that help you know when the speakers are paired together.
Overall, I think they look awesome. The bamboo and black components work really well, I’m glad there is no grille on the front, just pure driver and tweeter. They have a good weight to them, even though they are smaller than expected and they feel really well built.
Set up was pretty straight forward and they come out the box paired. There is no link cable between the left and right, so they are paired together via Bluetooth. Plug them both in, turn the left on, which is the mains powered one and the master speaker you could say. Then turn the right speaker on, wait and there should be a voice prompt saying they are connected together. If they’re not, it’s a matter of holding down the Bluetooth buttons to pair them back together. When they are together, you can then pair it to your smart device as usual.
As the right speaker has a built-in battery, lasting up to 20 hours, there is the option for you two use this speaker on its own, take it outside with you, whatever you want. If you want this, charge it up, turn it on and use it like any other Bluetooth speaker. You can also do this with the left but as it’s mains powered, you cant move it around as easily. While testing, I charged the right up fully, then left it using the battery power only. I did run out of battery, I got to 17/18 hours I think and the right died and I was left with a single speaker. For me, I think I’d always have the right speaker plugged into the mains, via the USB C port, so it’s always charged.
Audio performance is pretty good considering the size of these speakers and the power output isn’t that high. It’s a crisp sound, highs and mids cut through well and there is bass but on some of those bass-heavy tracks, they’re definitely crying out for a little bit more. So yes, a bit more bass is required in some areas but overall, they sound good and I’ve enjoyed using them a lot. Volume-wise, they get really loud and if you push it over 75% volume, the quality does drop slightly and that need for more bass becomes even more apparent.
With both speakers playing, you get that stereo set up and it’s great to hear, stereo is always better. As a drummer, maybe ex-drummer now, it’s been a while. I listen to the drums more so than anything else, it’s just built into me and with stereo, each drum component comes out left or right, as if I was playing the drums, which I always enjoy.
Digging a little deeper into the spec of the speakers, it looks like these can only handle default Bluetooth SBC codec, so we’ve got no aptX or even AAC, which you’d find on your iPhone or iPads. So if you’re into your audio quality, these will not be for you.
Controls work well, they’re push buttons, they’re big and easy to use. Using the + and – buttons, controls volume and content if you hold it down, which is handy if you leave your smart device somewhere else.
To round up, a very sleek looking, premium pair of speakers, with a pretty good audio performance generally but needs a little more bass in some areas. Size-wise, ideal for your desk by your monitors or either side of your laptop. The added bonus the right speaker has the built-in battery means you can take it out and about and due to its size, you can carry it just fine. I think the added aux and line in is nice, I’m not sure many people will use it but it’s nice to have. They currently retail at £150 here in the UK.
For more info and to purchase, head over to the official Marley website.