Today, I have this with me, it’s the Marshall Emberton 2 portable Bluetooth speaker, note I said two, this is the second generation of this speaker. I’ve tried a few products from Marshall now, with the last being the Motiff earbuds and they are fantastic, I still use them a lot and I’m hoping that trend follows with these.
Out the box, I just love it. If you play the guitar or you’ve been in a band playing something else or if you’ve ever been to a gig and seen what a Marshall amp looks like in the flesh, it’s iconic and they’ve continued that appearance through their speakers, earbuds and headphones, which I absolutely love. The speaker has that faux leather/snake skin finish wrapped around the sides, then this criss-cross grille to the front and back, and of course, the front grille has that iconic gold Marshall logo. To the top, a large gold button that you hold in, to power on/off or play/pause, then push it left, right or up, down to control volume and content. To the left of that button, a Bluetooth connection button and then to the right, a battery indicator, that has 10 small red lights, showing the remaining battery level in increments of 10%. On the right-hand side, is a USB C port used for charging. It’s also worth noting the speaker sits on a thin rubber base, keeping it sturdy on your surface.
Size-wise, it’s certainly handheld and it was comfortable to carry around in one hand. As for weight, it’s not too heavy but then also doesn’t feel really cheap and lightweight. If in a backpack, it shouldn’t cause too much concern. It also feels very well constructed and robust, I get the feeling it can get knocked around or dropped a little bit and survive. It is also IP67, so will withstand a splash of water.
Spec-wise, connectivity is via Bluetooth 5.1 only, there are no wired ports available. It’s got two 2” speakers with a 10watt output each, plus two passive radiators, facing outwards from either side, so the speaker delivers sound from the front and back. Battery life is stated at over 30 hours, with a charge time of about 3 hours. There is no microphone built into the speaker, so this is not good for making calls if you do that with Bluetooth speakers. Marshall does also have their own app, which is compatible with the Emberton, so you can boot up the app to offer equaliser options and push firmware updates out to the speaker. Lastly, if you bought two speakers, which I know is a tad expensive, you can pair the two, and stack them like a cab for double the experience, kind of.
Setting up and using the speaker is very straightforward. Turn it on, it’ll go into pairing mode, pair it with your smartphone or other device and away you go. The multi-directional button on the top of the speaker works well, it’s very easy to push up or down for volume control, left or right to change tracks. I did download the marshall app again, which I used with the Motif earbuds and it added a fair amount of functionality, however with the speaker, not so much. There are just 3 EQ presets, ‘Marshall’, ‘Push’ which is boosted bass and treble, plus ‘Voice’ for more clarity. Switching between the three is instantaneous and you can hear a difference. You cannot edit those EQ’s or create your own. The app also allows you to stack two Embertons if you have two, plus send firmware updates out as well.
Onto audio performance and I think it sounds brilliant. What Marshall has done in such a small form factor, hats off to them. I listen to a lot of rock music, so the Marshall EQ, their signature sound suited me down to a tee. At low volumes, its very pleasant, I’d have the speaker playing while working, it’s not overly boomy and the mix is fairly balanced so you get a little thud from the bass drum, vocals are crisp and prominent. Turn the volume up a little, to mid-volume and that’s the sweet spot for me. More than loud enough to fill any room in my house, the quality is good, and highs and mids do overpower the bass just a little bit but there is a small rumble on the desk. However, if you turn this all the way up to the maximum volume, it just can’t cope, the quality drops, it gets a bit tinny, it’s overly crisp, the bass is lacking and it’s not very enjoyable at all. This is a portable, Bluetooth speaker though don’t forget, if you need something with more juice, Marshall do bigger speakers for that very reason, so you’ve just got to decide on that balance before purchasing.
I think it looks fantastic, It sounds very good when used for its purpose, don’t turn that volume all the way up. It’s got a good battery life, it can withstand a knock, it’s splash-proof and it’s portable. Price-wise, this retails at £149.99 which is on the higher side of the market and I think you are paying a bit of a premium because of the brand. The previous model can be bought slightly cheaper and from what I can see online, they should perform the same, but the first model does have a smaller battery. Obviously, you can see the speaker is black but Marshall has said this will be available in cream too which looks pretty smart and it’s got that more vintage looks to it.