Review: Marshall’s new Willen and Emberton II speakers pair retro looks with balanced sound

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Just a month ago, Marshall released a pair of two new delightfully retro speakers into its stable. Arriving as its most portable solutions yet, we’re taking a hands-on look at what the entirely new Marshall Willen has to offer just in time for summer alongside the refreshed Emberton II counterpart. Head below for more.

Marshall Willen and Emberton II hands-on reviews

Heading into spring last month, Marshall revealed the new Willen and Emberton II speakers only to be met with the same popularity its past releases have received. After quickly selling out, both new offerings are now back in stock for the first time since launch, and we’re taking a hands-on look at what to expect.

I’ve walked away impressed with Marshall’s other releases in the past, and so I was quite excited to see what the newest releases had in store. After using both of the speakers for the past month, I’ve grown quite fond of the vinyl-wrapped and portable additions to the brand’s stable.

As far as additions to the Marshall lineup come, both of the new speakers are as straightforward as they come. Each one sports the usual retro-inspired design cues that have carried the brand for the past half-century, as well as Bluetooth and the like. Immaculate design aside, there are also satisfying metal knobs that let you adjust volume and playback across either one of the speakers. But how each of them individually stacks up is a bit different.

Of them, let’s start with the Emberton II. Arriving as a refreshed version of the model that launched back in 2020, the new iteration is bringing with it some enhancements to justify the update. Most notably is the battery life, which now reaches up to 30 hours on a single charge – up from the 20 on its predecessor. That improvement does earn the speaker a $169.99 price tag, which is also an increase from before.

Then packed into the same portable form factor is a pair of 2-inch full-range drivers that complement the two passive radiators. This delivers quite the full soundstage with a hearty level of bass through in for good measure. I wouldn’t say that the mixing is perfect, but the vocals are still as crisp as they come for a speaker at this price point and of this size.

By far the most impressive part of the Marshall Emberton II has to be how loud this handheld speaker can get. Most of my time listening over the past month has been right below the halfway mark on the volume scale, and even that is enough to serenade me around the house. It’ll be more than capable of keeping the tunes heard through smaller parties and the like, or even trips to the beach if you’re the type who likes to share your exquisite taste in music with everyone around you.

Of course, there are those of us who not only don’t need all of the booming audio prowess and would, in fact, enjoy something a bit toned down. There’s where the other of Marshall’s latest speakers comes into play with the new Willen. An even more portable offering that is as handheld as they come in this class, this entirely new model is likely to be the more popular of the two releases. Especially with its $119.99 price tag.

For starters, it has all the same design and retro cues packed into an IP67 water-resistant package. Living up to its title as Marshall’s most portable offering, this one only measures just over three inches across while packing 15-hour battery life and a built-in microphone into the mix. Not to mention, it has a fun little strap on the back for affixing it to your backpack, sides of chairs, and plenty of other convenient places.

The smaller size does mean that the Marshall Willen’s internal 2-inch full-range driver isn’t going to deliver the same performance as the larger Emberton II counterpart. That being said, it’s perfectly capable for more personal listening sessions or environments that won’t have as much ambient audio. The entire soundstage is a bit less distinct, though there is still a notable about of bass for its size.

9to5Toys’ Take

The bottom line for Marshall’s latest is that both the Willen and Emberton II are some of the most well-rounded portable speakers on the market. Sound quality may differ between the form factors, but both are respectable in their own rights. Not to mention the exceptional build quality and overall features sets really seal the deal if the designs weren’t already enough.

Emberton II packs a bigger punch than its smaller Willen counterpart – but the latter is going to be a go-to for me. I love how portable it is while still managing to have a nice audio profile. I suspect that many will be in the same boat as me, though whether you prefer the most portable or slightly more capable model will be the deciding factor.

With summer around the weather, these are both easy recommendations for anyone who wants all the perks of a portable Bluetooth speaker but with some more eye-catching designs. And for the latter in particular, both of the Emberton II and Willen speakers are certainly worth the price tags.

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