Marshall Stanmore compact active stereo speaker system rocks our ears

Some things are done best in Britain. Marshall amplifiers are a long-standing Brit brand with a strong rock association. But now the company is heading away from the stage and into the compact space with its Stanmore active stereo speaker.

The Stanmore brings with it all the luxury design and elegance that you would expect from a Marshall too. Look at the top panel - that big brass on/off switch, those analogue EQ knobs (they only go up to 10 though), and high-quality input buttons. Everything feels great and those EQs slide so smoothly through the range that you'll just want to keep tweaking them.

There's not the 3/4-inch electric guitar input that you might associate with the rock'n'roll brand, but a 3.5mm coiled cable is included for plugging in your music player via the 3.5mm aux jack. There are plenty of other modern connection goodies too: an optical input and RCA input on the rear, while Bluetooth 4.0 allows for wireless pairing. It's vintage but it's modern.

Design-wise the classic Marshall script logo sits proudly on the front. Again there's no scrimping on quality - it's a high-quality finish against a fret-like mesh that really sets off the cream leather.

Sound quality booms out too. There's a 5.25-inch ported sub paired with two 0.75-inch tweeters so you can rock out. We only got to listen in among the audio bustle of the Showstoppers media event at the IFA electronics show in Berlin, but it was good enough to rise above and beyond the majority of its surroundings.

Loud, proud and not dumbing down the Marhsall way, Stanmore looks and sounds top quality.