Hands-on: Marshall’s new III series vinyl-covered speakers are perfect gifts for music lovers

a close up of a box

Earlier this year, Marshall refreshed nearly its entire lineup of speakers from the portable offerings to models meant for rocking out at home. We already reviewed a pair of the battery-powered form-factors, and now ahead of the holidays are back to take a look at the brand’s latest at-home speakers. Wrapped in the iconic stylings you’d expect from Marshall, we’re going hands-on with its new III series speakers to see how the Acton, Stanmore, and Woburn stack up.

Marshall III speakers sport signature designs

First launching back in June, Marshall revealed a trio of new speakers as part of its home lineup. The new third-generation debuts were fittingly deemed the III series, with the Acton, Stanmore, and Woburn models being carried over into the brand’s latest lineup.

If there’s just one reason why the new Marshall III speakers will delight for the holidays, it has to be the designs. Reminiscent of the amps that the company made to get its start decades ago, each of the new releases comes coated in a premium vinyl that gives them the iconic looks. It’s long been one of my favorite aspects of the brand’s consumer electronics, and that design continues to be even more appreciated as other options on the market continue switching over to more bland fabric-wrapped form-factors. Instead, the front grill on each of the speakers is made of a more premium metal that gives all three a sturdy and signature look.

On top of the vinyl-wrapped exteriors, Marshall also packs in some of that retro brass accenting on the top of all three III series speakers. It’s a design cue that makes them even more distinct, but also adds notable features like the ability to fine tune bass and treble alongside adjusting the volume. It’s lovely to see manual controls packed into a speaker, which is quite fitting for the old school vibes that Marshall is known for.

Come for the looks, stay for the sound

Though while you may be interested in just how good the speakers look at first, you’ll certainly be staying for the sound. I have talked at length in the past about how Marshall has some of the best audio tuning on the market for its earbuds. And of course with being a company that primarily started with amps and audio products of the not so personal variety, it’s only fitting that its new III series releases would deliver on that, too.

Each one manages to produce well-balanced audio right out of the box, and if you’re finding it a little lacking in a specific area, the brass control knobs I previously mentioned can step in to tweak the sound profile a bit. Aside from boosting the bass when I wanted tor rock out to some more metal tracks, I found the default tuning to be as good as you’ll find for a hi-fi speaker on the market – at least at these price points.

Three different form-factors to choose from

Differentiating themselves from one another, the new Marshall III series speakers all arrive with different internal audio areas fitting of their staggered form-factor sizes. In ascending order, each of the recent debuts clocks in with a larger design than the previous model, with the Acton III being joined by its most capable Stanmore III and Woburn III counterparts. Each one of course delivers on the signature form and function of Marshall, but stand out from each other with some adjustments based on just how loud or crisp of a speaker you’re looking for.

Here’s a breakdown of the pricing on the Marshall III speakers:

Kicking things off is the Acton III, which is Marshall’s smallest at-home speaker right now. 95dB sound from its more compact design, the speaker array inside is based around a single 30W Class D amplifier for the woofer and a pair of smaller 15W amplifiers for the tweeters.

Moving onto the Stanmore III, you’re looking at a slightly upscaled design that now comes centered around the same pair of 15W amplifiers for the dual-tweeter form-factor. Where it does deliver some increased sound quality is in the bass department, with a more capable 50W amplifier powering the woofer to stack up to 97dB output.

And last up, there’s the Woburn III. This is Marshall’s flagship speaker in the new III series and you can certainly tell just from hearing it. The specs don’t lie, either, with the 90W woofer amplifier being joined by another pair of 15W tweeters. Though to really step up the sound profile and round out the entire soundscape, you’ll also find a pair of 15W amplifies dedicated to the mids for even more balanced sound. All of that combines to make one hell of a rocking speaker that hits 100.5dB at its loudest while still maintaining crisp vocals.

9to5Toys’ Take

All told, Marshall makes some of the most iconic audio gear out there, which certainly carries over to all three of its latest speakers. There really aren’t any competitors in the space of creating home listening experiences that sound as good as they look. But after spending the last few months rocking out with the Marshall III series, it’s safe to say that all three of them deliver on both form and function.

Though of the batch, I do have to say that the speaker I kept coming back to was the Acton III. It’s more compact size is perfect for those who just want a new upgrade for the desk or even for putting up on a shelf in the study or really elsewhere in your home. It imbues all of the usual Marshall essentials into a footprint that doesn’t hog an entire corner of the room and is likely going to be the favorite for many of you reading.

The Woburn III, on the other hand, is incredibly impressive on the sound front and really does deliver on its elevated price tag. If you think you can devote more of a dedicated space to a massive speaker, this one is easily worth the investment in terms of both cash and real estate in your home.

Though, this then leaves the Stanmore III speaker in something of last place. It’s Marshall’s middle of the ground release that while not bad by any means, just isn’t as compact for booming as the two speakers that bookend it in the lineup. The price point is easily justified for those who need a little extra oomph, but I would still suggest just going with the Acton III and calling it a day.

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