(Pocket-lint) - A couple of years ago, the original Marshall Emberton speaker charmed us with its gorgeous looks and brilliant sound. Now, there's a new version, and it looks, well, basically the same. With style like this, though, that's no bad thing.
And despite its near-identical appearance, the Emberton II promises numerous upgrades over the original.
We've put the stylish Bluetooth speaker through its paces to find out how the latest iteration stacks up.
The Marshall Emberton II isn't massively different from its predecessor, but, while the upgrades may be subtle, they are smart.
An additional 10 hours of battery life and the improved connectivity of Bluetooth 5.1 shouldn't be overlooked, as they really do enhance the user experience.
Aside from these additions, it's a familiar product, but one that still provides excellent room-filling sound in a convenient and small form factor. Particularly if you love rock music, the Emberton II produces a sound that's hard to come by in such a compact speaker.
Marshall Emberton II
- Stylish and compact design
- Superb sound quality
- Massive 30-hour battery
- IP67 dust and water resistance
- User friendly and speedy pairing
- Little in the way of features
- No microphone
- No wired connectivity
- Very similar to its predecessor
- 68 x 160 x 76mm; 700g
- Black or Cream finish
- Multi-directional control-knob
- IP67 dust and water-resistant
As we mentioned up-top, the Emberton II is essentially identical to its predecessor. The dimensions remain the same, as does the weight. With this model, you have the option of a Black and Brass colourway, which we are testing, or a Cream option.
The original Emberton had four colour options, so you had a bit more choice, but we think the two options that have remained are by far the most stylish, so it's no great loss.
There's no change to the controls, either, with the Bluetooth pairing button and a joystick in the style of a recessed brass knob in the centre. The controls are very intuitive and worked well throughout our testing, but we can't help but wish that the knob turned like a real knob. We understand the decision, though, and it would be far less functional.
The 10-light battery level indicator is present on the Emberton II, as well, and it's a nice easy way to check your current charge level and adds to the overall vintage charm of the device.
However, we also feel like this could be utilised further. It would look awesome flashing along with the music as a mini graphic equaliser, for example. That's not the kind of thing that Marshall has typically been keen on implementing, with the company usually just sticking to the core style and sound without any gimmicks. Again, it's a decision we can understand.
The durability has seen an upgrade, meanwhile, being certified as IP67 - up from IPX7 on the older model. This means that, as well as water resistance, the Emberton II benefits from dust resistance, too.
This is ideal for rocking out on the beach worry-free, and, while we wouldn't advise taking it swimming on purpose, it'll withstand up to 30 minutes of submersion up to 1-metre depths.
- Two 2-inch 10W full-range drivers; two passive radiators
- Frequency response: 60Hz – 20,000Hz
- 360-degree stereophonic sound
- Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity
Specifications seem identical when it comes to the drivers, wattage and frequency response, too. The thing that has changed, though, is an upgrade from Bluetooth 5.0 to 5.1.
When we reviewed the original, our largest complaint was the occasional connection dropouts we experienced, and we're pleased to report that the connection has been very steady on the Emberton II.
We weren't able to test both models side by side, but we are fairly confident they'll sound about the same, and, given how good the original sounded, that's no issue at all. The Emberton II produces a lovely warm sound with seriously impressive vocal presence and clarity.
It can get fairly loud, and certainly louder than most people would want around the house, but we noticed that vocals start to sound harsh at excessively high volumes.
The bass is rich and inviting, too, but it doesn't extend as deep as some of its competitors, bottoming out at 60Hz. Whether that's an issue for you will depend on your musical preferences. We noticed that some electronic tracks with extreme sub-bass started to flatten out, whereas a speaker like the Huawei Sound Joy can vibrate its way down to the deepest tones.
That said, for rock music, jazz and pretty much anything produced with traditional instruments, the Emberton II is in a class of its own. Despite the tiny footprint, the speaker pumps out a dynamic, detailed and wide sound stage that can be enjoyed in all directions. It really is impressive.
Features and battery life
- Marshall Bluetooth app
- 30+ hours of playback
- 20 min charge gives 4 hours of playtime -3 hours to fully charge
- Stack mode
When first pairing the Emberton II, we were immediately impressed with the user experience. Not only did the speaker automatically pop up on our Android phone, but it also prompted us to download the Marshall app. Can't get much easier than that.
The app itself, on the other hand, isn't as impressive. It will allow you to select an EQ preset or enter Stack mode (more on that later) and that's about it.
The available presets are Marshall, Push and Voice. As standard, the speaker plays with the Marshall EQ applied, and that signature sound is the one we've been glowing about throughout this review.
The Voice EQ, meanwhile, boosts the vocal range for spoken-word content like podcasts and audiobooks, which can be handy on occasion. And, finally, the Push EQ is supposed to boost the bass and treble for a heavier sound, but, to our ears, it just sounds far worse. Vocals are recessed and the mids are muddied, so we'd advise just sticking to the Marshall preset.
Stack mode is a new feature, but, since we only had one speaker in for testing, we weren't able to try it for ourselves. Essentially, if you have multiple Emberton II speakers, you can stack as many as you like to create a bigger, louder speaker.
It's an interesting choice, going for the stacking approach rather than the option to create a stereo-pair, but, given the 360-degree output of the speaker, maybe it makes the most sense. It's also then able to achieve the same look as Marshall's iconic stacked amplifiers.
Most usefully, perhaps, is the fact that the playback time has been increased to 30 hours per charge, compared to the 20 hours offered by the original Emberton.
When you eventually run down the mammoth battery, you'll be able to get an extra four hours with just a 20-minute charge. A full charge takes three hours. It's a really neat upgrade.
The Marshall Emberton II is a great sounding, stylish and compact speaker that we're sure most people will love. For owners of the original Emberton, there is little reason to upgrade, but, for everyone else, it's a cracking little speaker that's worth considering.