Marshall Emberton II and Willen review: A trendy set of Bluetooth speakers you’ll be able to take anywhere

Marshall Emberton II and Willen review: A trendy set of Bluetooth speakers you’ll be able to take anywhere

“Press play with Marshall’s stylish Emberton II and Willen Bluetooth speakers regardless of where you would like to go.”


  • Excellent sound quality
  • Rugged IP67 construct
  • Easy portability
  • Great battery life
  • Sync with similar speakers


  • No AAC or aptX support
  • No wired playback
  • Pricey

With regards to Bluetooth speakers, there’s an insane variety of them to pick from. Most are perfectly adequate for casual listening, but when we’re being brutally honest, they’re not much to have a look at. Marshall’s line of portables neatly avoid the generic speaker trap by leaning into to the brand’s iconic history as some of the recognizable names in live rock ‘n’ roll. For 2022, it has updated its Emberton speaker — now the $170 Emberton II — and added a good smaller and more portable sibling, the $120 Willen.

Marshall Emberton II bluetooth speaker.

Marshall Emberton II

Marshall Willen bluetooth speaker.

Marshall Willen

So from a size and elegance standpoint, these two speakers have already got so much going for them. They will even play beyond their respective frames, and we spent quite a lot of time with them to search out out just how far they will go. But has Marshall thrown in enough features and performance to justify its premium pricing on the Emberton II and Willen? Let’s check them out.

What’s within the box

Despite being different speakers, they each unbox the exact same way, with the identical contents inside. Other than the USB-C charging cable and user manual, there’s nothing else to find inside. These speakers aren’t exactly made to work with accessories anyway, but I’ll get to that part further down.


Emberton II

Holding the Marshall Emberton II in hand.Ted Kritsonis / Digital Trends

Here, too, the design principles align for each. They’re not latest, nevertheless, since Marshall largely built the unique Emberton the identical way. This time, the rubberized veneer has more of a leather texture to it, and the grille is black to intensify the brass color logo on the front. Marshall did also make a cream variant for this speaker that sports its own retro look in the corporate’s signature style.

The scale of two.7 x 6.3 x 3.0 inches and weight of 1.5-pounds are similar to the previous Emberton. Marshall also didn’t move the multifunction button, LEDs, or USB-C port. That familiar territory also extends to what’s inside, courtesy of the twin 2-inch drivers with 10-watt Class-D amps and two passive radiators.

So what’s modified? And why is Marshall asking $20 more for the Emberton II? A key change is that you would be able to sync the Emberton II with other Emberton II speakers in what’s called Stack Mode. It really works similarly to JBL’s Party Mode and Soundcore’s PartyCast mode.

It’s also more robust, now with dust protection, in addition to waterproofing, for a combined IP67 rating. That’s enough to survive full immersion in water for as much as half-hour at a depth of about three feet, plus any sand or debris that may associate with your beach adventures.

But have in mind, unlike another full waterproof portables, the Emberton II doesn’t float. And should you take it right into a pool or salt water, you had higher give it a radical rinse in fresh water before putting it away.


Despite their similarities, it’s impossible to “stack” these two speakers together. The mode only works with the identical speaker types. The unique Emberton doesn’t support the feature, so there was no option to get it to pair with its successor.

Holding the Marshall Willen in hand.Ted Kritsonis / Digital Trends

The Willen is the smaller of those two, but arguably the more versatile. It’s a light-weight at 0.68 kilos, and simple to hold with its frame measuring 4 x 4 x 3 inches. It holds one driver and amp, as an alternative of two, though it does even have two passive radiators. A rubber strap on the back also permits you to mount it onto whatever it may possibly wrap around.

It’s cool to have, but I did run into some issues with it, like when it was too short to strap onto my bike’s handlebars. It’s also not as stretchy because it looks, so the applying goes to be hit-or-miss. Chances are you’ll find success with a thinner bar, or on a bag, as there isn’t any real defined application for it. Whatever you’ll be able to strap it onto is actually as much as you.

Marshall Willen strap on the back of the speaker.Ted Kritsonis / Digital Trends

Marshall claims 60% of the Willen’s plastic comes from recycled electronics, a bit of further ahead of the 50% it uses to make the Emberton II. Whatever Marshall put in these two, it did make them fairly rugged and difficult. The Willen shares the Emberton II’s IP67 rating.

Setup and Marshall app

There’s not much to setting these two up, and the method is similar for each. On Android devices, Google Fast Pair will pop up once you identify contact, though it’s best to have already got the Marshall app installed in your phone to hurry up the method. On iOS, it’s not all that different, with the app helping to pair up together with your iPhone or iPad very quickly.

The Marshall app is the opposite big change for the Emberton II. The unique model had no companion app in any respect, so things like settings changes or firmware updates weren’t available. It’s not an especially feature-rich addition. It permits you to monitor each speaker’s battery level, access three EQ presets (Marshall’s own signature tuning, Push for bass boost, or Voice for enhanced spoken word content), and interact Stack Mode.

With only one among each speaker readily available,  I wasn’t capable of test Stack mode, so I’m not entirely sure how well it really works or sounds. What is evident is that the app makes the connections, and it treats the primary speaker because the “predominant” while any others act because the additions. There’s no official limit to what number of you’ll be able to stack this manner. Marshall claims it has linked as many as 30 speakers with no problems. Unfortunately, there’s no option to use Stack Mode to create a stereo pair between two similar Marshall speakers, but you’ll be able to connect a single speaker to 2 Bluetooth sources concurrently, which permits you to seamlessly share DJ responsibilities with a friend.

Controlling the speakers is simple. Each use a brass multifunction button that doubles as a directional pad. Press and hold to power on or off, or hold it longer to place it back in pairing mode. Pressing left or right will repeat or skip a track, while up and down raises or lowers volume. The controls and battery life indicator do the very same things on each the Emberton II and Willen.

The Willen is the one one among the 2 with a built-in microphone for calls. You may’t talk over with anyone with the Emberton II, so that you’re out of luck should you were hoping for some speakerphone functionality. It’s not remarkable, however the Willen does a very good job with calls, and apart from a few connectivity hiccups, conversations went easily.

Sound quality

The Marshall Emberton II sitting on a table.Ted Kritsonis / Digital Trends

Neither the Emberton II nor the Willen support the AAC or aptX codecs. They’re going all the best way with SBC, so should you’re pondering of going hi-res together with your tunes, these two aren’t an option. With no 3.5mm Aux-In jack, there’s no option to go wired, and the USB-C port, is barely for charging. I attempted playing music through it on each speakers, but nothing happened.

The excellent news is that they get louder than you’ll expect. There’s real power inside, with nice clarity, particularly within the 40% to 60% volume range. I barbecue so much, and I had one or the opposite of those speakers near me throughout the time I used to be testing them. I actually enjoyed the Emberton’s resonance while hearing the barbecue’s sizzle as I used to be grilling, and I kept it going by listening to a podcast as I had my meal. I topped all of it off with a drink and cigar. Either speaker just slot in with the situation and environment, and the portability only made that easier.

One thing to have in mind with each speakers, nevertheless, is the best way Marshall splits the stereo output. The front grille takes the left channel, while the back grille outputs the correct. Marshall calls this “true stereophonic” sound, and it does indeed provide a sphere of audio that sounds great from any direction. But there are two caveats: You don’t quite get the left/right stereo separation you might be used to from traditional one-sided speakers and placing these speakers in locations where the back and front have unequal room to breathe will affect sound quality, so try to not stash them in a bookshelf or too near a wall.

I attempted the Push EQ preset to gauge how much bass got here out, and while very impressive, I did notice a catch. Push is speculated to boost the bass, which it does, but it surely loses a few of its rumble while you blast it. Each the Marshall and Push presets were designed to offset the speaker’s limitations, meaning that raising the amount to the best levels didn’t result in obvious distortion, but it surely lessened the bass to maintain the audio as clear as possible. That really works out well for rock and guitar tracks, where bass isn’t as prevalent, but should you’re blasting hip-hop and R&B, you may find the effect a bit of surprising.

Top view of the Marshall Emberton II.Ted Kritsonis / Digital Trends

It’s understandably more pronounced on the Emberton II than it’s on the Willen, considering the scale and output differences, however the gist is identical. Go really high, and the identical thing happens. Even so, the Willen was a pleasure to have around in the identical circumstances. Sure, it didn’t have the identical beefy sound its larger brother does, but while you’re just lounging in a chair or sitting with a friend at a table, it’s a super-convenient thing to have.

The Emberton II is actually heavier and bulkier, though not that much less portable should you’re throwing it right into a bag. It gets up and running quickly, and may very easily play tunes loud enough for a small group of individuals. It should sound louder indoors than outdoors, but there’s absolute confidence it really works for smaller gatherings outside.

Battery life

Want yet another reason to spend the additional $20 for the Emberton II over its predecessor? Battery life is now 50% longer. Marshall claims not less than 30 hours of playback per charge (a 10-hour increase over the Emberton), which is usually accurate should you don’t raise the amount above 50%. Keep it at full blast (or near it) and also you’re cutting it down by greater than half. That’s still pretty good, all things considered, so should you’re listening at an everyday volume, you won’t be charging all of it that always. A fast 20-minute charge will get you as much as 4 hours of playback, and a full charge from a dead battery will take three hours.

Battery life and top view of Marshall Willen.Ted Kritsonis / Digital Trends

The Willen follows the same pattern. At a largely default volume, it would hit its rated 15-hour limit, and possibly more. Crank it up, and also you’ll be charging it again by the top of the night. A fast 20-minute charge can offer you up to a different three hours playback, and it takes three hours to fill it up completely.

Our take

Marshall Emberton II bluetooth speaker.

Marshall Emberton II

Marshall Willen bluetooth speaker.

Marshall Willen

Given how they give the impression of being and sound, it was easy to love each the $170 Emberton II and $120 Willen. The retro styling and ruggedized construct were made for all seasons, no matter whether you’re chilling on the beach, or hitting the slopes in winter. You don’t get bells and whistles, just music that may get loud and proud while you want it. If Marshall’s sound rings true to your ears, these can be well price a glance.

Is there a greater alternative?

Each of those speakers play their tunes in competitive spaces. The Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 stands out against the Emberton II with its cylindrical construct and more intricate EQ, though it won’t last as long per charge and should cost more. For less money, the JBL Flip 6 also goes the cylindrical route and offers similar pairing features with other speakers of its type. Loud, rugged, and with a deeper EQ, it’s got more of a sporty vibe to it, too.

Ultimate Ears may tackle the Willen with its cheaper Wonderboom 2, which also has a cylindrical construct that floats on water, though it won’t get as loud as Marshall’s speaker does. The Tribit Stormbox Micro 2 is a budget option with a durable frame that also comes with its own strap to mount where you wish it.

How long will they last?

Their respective durability suggests the Emberton II and Willen are built to last. You do should maintain them by rinsing off any salt, sand, or dirt that will persist with them. They’re made tough, just not impervious to all bumps and encounters with the weather. Marshall offers a one-year warranty to cover malfunction issues, but not water damage.

Must you buy them?

Yes, because they sound higher than most speakers at the identical size, and despite lacking some features, they’re undeniably stylish in that classic Marshall way. You may pre-order each from immediately, and so they’ll ship on June 30, 2022.

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