Marshall Emberton 2: Two-minute review
The Marshall Emberton 2 is the latest portable speaker from Marshall, a British company that’s been around since the 1960s and is perhaps most famous for its guitar amplifiers. Been to a gig recently? That’s almost certainly a Marshall amp onstage.
Now vying to become one of the best portable speaker manufacturers on the market, the Marshall’s Emberton 2 is the second iteration of the original Marshall Emberton. In terms of design, this newer portable speaker looks similar to its predecessor, with the brand’s iconic amp aesthetic, only in a compact and portable package. However, the newer version now works with the Marshall Bluetooth app, which offers some EQ presets, and can connect to other Emberton 2 speakers for maximum sound.
And we should take notice of Marshall – in recent years the brand has released several consumer-grade headphones, like the over-ear Marshall Major III and the true wireless Marshall Motif ANC, as well as smaller speakers, including the Marshall Stanmore.
As we’ve come to expect, the Marshall Emberton 2 brings a rich, clear and expansive sound to most environments. However, turn up the volume and the audio muddies a little. There also isn’t as much bass as we’d have liked here, but it does perform well for a portable speaker, in that respect.
The standout feature of the Marshall Emberton 2 has got to be its incredibly impressive 30-hour battery life. Add that to it’s 1.5lb weight (not super light compared to rivals, but not heavy either), IP67 dust and water resistance rating, and you’ve ticked all the boxes for a quality portable speaker.
However, while the Emberton 2 brings bags of style and good sound on-the-move, there’s little else. There’s no support for voice assistants, no other smart features and no microphone, which means you can’t use it for calls. You won’t find a 3.5mm AUX port here either. Considering the speaker is $169.99 / £149.99 / AU$289.99, this might be off-putting for those who want one of the best Bluetooth speakers packed with features.
For this reason, we wouldn’t recommend the Marshall Emberton 2 to everyone. If you want a speaker with a voice assistant that’ll support calls and comes with loads of customization options, you’ll need to look elsewhere – there are plenty to choose from in our best smart speakers guide. But, if you love the Marshall aesthetic and want a reliable, portable speaker with great sound, fantastic battery life and minimal features, it’s a solid choice.
Marshall Emberton 2: Price and release date
- Released: May 2022
- Price: $169.99 / £149.99 / AU$289.99
The Marshall Emberton 2 costs $169.99 / £149.99 / AU$289.99. At this price, it’s slightly more expensive than the original Marshall Emberton, which was $149.99 / £129.99 / AU$249.99 at launch. This small price increase makes sense when you take into account the few significant upgrades in this latest version.
The price of the Emberton 2 does feel a little high, but not so much as to make it bad value. You’re getting the Marshall seal of approval, a good design and fantastic battery. But, if we were judging the price based on features alone, it’s lacking compared to other Bluetooth speakers on the market right now. For example, our top portable speaker of the moment, the Sonos Roam, which boasts excellent sound, a bunch of smart features and Alexa and Google Assistant support doesn’t cost that much more at 179 / £179 / AU$299.
Marshall Emberton 2: Design
- Very cool amp-like design
- Portable, fairly lightweight design
- Feels rugged, with IP67 dust and water resistance rating
The Marshall Emberton 2 has the brand’s iconic amp-like design, 50 percent of which is reportedly made from recycled plastic. We tested the black and brass version, but it also comes in a cream colour too.
It’s lovely to hold, feeling chunky and durable, with a rubbery exterior that makes us fairly confident it would survive a few knocks and scrapes. It’s fairly compact, measuring 68 x 160 x 76 mm, and weighs 1.5lbs, which is a little on the heavy size for a portable speaker. But it’s still small and light enough to hold in your hand and throw in a bag (although it’s way too big for a pocket).
It has an IP67 dust and water-resistance rating. This means you can submerge it in fresh water up to one meter in depth for up to 30 minutes and it’ll survive, so sit it by the pool (like one of our best waterproof speakers) and all will be well.
Controls are incredibly simple. On top there’s a Bluetooth pairing button, with a red light indicator next to it to show when you’re connected. Around the side you’ll find 10 small red light bars displaying battery life, and opposite there’s a USB-C port for charging.
A golden button with a lovely, grooved texture sits in the middle, which acts in a similar way to a joystick. Push it down firmly to turn the speaker on and off, left and right to skip back and forth between tracks and push it up and down (more gently) to control the volume.
The Marshall Emberton 2 was very easy to use. We were used to these controls straight away, there’s nothing tricky to remember here and we found the simplicity refreshing.
Design score: 5 out of 5
Marshall Emberton 2: Features
- An impressive 30 hours of battery
- Some limited presets in the app
- No voice assistant or mic
The Marshall Emberton 2 has an incredibly impressive 30 hours of battery life, which we found to be accurate during testing, ranging between 27-29 hours use. It took just a few minutes over three hours of charging to get back to full battery.
This is among the best battery life you’ll find in the portable speaker space. We’ve tested the Tribit Stombox Blast, which also boasts 30 hours, as well as the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore, which manages 27 hours. But the top Bluetooth speaker, the Sonos Roam, runs out of juice at only 10.
This excellent battery life makes the Emberton 2 a great portable speaker, offering genuinely reliable sound for more than a whole day.
Drivers: Dynamic Two 2″ 10 W full range
Frequency range: 60-20,000 Hz
Weight: 0.7 kg (1.5 lbs)
Battery: 30 hours
Bluetooth range: 10m (30ft)
Dimensions: 68 x 160 x 76 mm (2.68 x 6.30 x 2.99 in)
A notable new feature that sets the Emberton 2 apart from the original is ‘Stack Mode’. This is a feature that lets you connect your speaker up to another Emberton 2 to create a wall of sound. People who just want a portable speaker for everyday won’t make use of this, but it’s handy and a great feature if you have more than one or know friends will have one to team up with at parties.
Another thing that’s different to the original Emberton is app support. But don’t get too excited, the Marshall app may look nice but it doesn’t do very much. This is where you’ll find stack Mode, firmware updates and EQ presets.
There’s no fully customizable EQ here, but the three presets worked well. There’s Marshall, which the brand describes as “the fine-tuned Marshall signature sound you know and love.” You’ll also find Push for boosted bass and Voice for added clarity when you’re listening to podcasts or audiobooks.
That’s it for notable features. There are no other ways to customize the sound, no smart features, no voice assistant and no mic, which means no calling. The question as to whether this is bad really depends on what you want from a portable speaker.
It feels wrong to weigh up the limited features of the Marshall Emberton 2 against its rivals because the whole point of this speaker is to keep things minimal, and it does that very well. But if you want an all-singing, all-dancing speaker, this isn’t it.
Features score: 3 out of 5
Marshall Emberton 2: Sound quality
- Rich and clear sound
- Lacks bass at times and high volumes can lose their magic
- Podcasts and audiobooks sound great with ‘voice’ preset
Within the Marshall Emberton 2 there are two two-inch full range drivers, two passive radiators and Marshall’s ‘True Stereophonic’ tech, which essentially means stereo sound. The result is, for the most part, a rich and clear sound whatever you’re listening to.
The speaker delivers an immersive and expansive soundstage, which we imagine is thanks to Marshall’s multi-directional audio. The bass was decent in most scenarios, but if you’re trying to fill a large space with sound, you wouldn’t get that thumping, bass experience. But that’s largely to be expected from a portable, compact speaker like this one.
Indoors, the Emberton 2’s maximum volume sounds very loud, but we did notice some muddying of sound here. Likely compression that degrades the quality when it hits those high volumes. Outside, it’s not as loud as some other speakers we’ve tested. But that’s why the stacking feature is great, allowing you to connect other Emberton speakers together to create a big wall of sound. We didn’t have a chance to test this, but imagine it would be great for large, outdoor gatherings.
Although there’s no EQ to customize completely here, the three presets do deliver. For example, a ‘voice’ preset proved to make a significant difference to podcasts and audiobooks. Selecting this preset seemed to balance the mid-range, making voices clear even when there was music in the background of the recording, too. Listening to The Stooges’ ‘No Fun’ we moved from Marshall, which made the track sound powerful, clear and crisp, to Push, which really did present more of a thumping bassy sound.
Sound quality score: 3.5 out of 5
Marshall Emberton 2: Value
- You pay extra for style and brand name
- Worth the expense for the phenomenal battery
- Value really depends on your preferences
You can find several portable speakers that offer a similar experience to the Marshall Emberton 2 but for less money. Even our top Bluetooth speaker, the Sonos Roam, is only £30 / $30 more expensive.
You’re certainly paying a premium for the Marshall branding here, as well as the tiny amp aesthetic, which looks exceptionally cool. But there is a lot to love about the Emberton 2 as well, which makes the extra cost a bit easier to swallow. The standout feature is its 30 hour battery life. The sound here is great too, but not fantastic. And we really like the stacking feature for creating a wall of sound at parties.
Overall, we can’t say the Marshall Emberton 2 is good value for everyone, because it simply isn’t, particularly for those who want smart features. But if you want a stylish, great-sounding speaker that’s cool, durable and will last a whole day on a single charge, then it’s well worth your money.
Value score: 3 out of 5
Buy them if…
Don’t buy them if…
If our Marshall Emberton 2 Bluetooth speaker review has you considering other portable options, then take a look at these three Bluetooth speaker alternatives.