Marshall Headphones' Emberton II portable Bluetooth speaker.
If it’s a Marshall portable Bluetooth speaker, of course it looks like a classic guitar amplifier in miniature.
Sweden’s Zound Industries manufactures Marshall-branded Bluetooth speakers and headphones under license from Britain’s Marshall Amplification PLC. The entirely new and square-faced Willen ($119) is the company’s most compact portable Bluetooth speaker. The larger Marshall Emberton II ($169) is a lookalike update of the original 2020-issue Emberton, adding 50 percent longer battery life, a dedicated app, and multiple-speaker pairing.
The Emberton II features a pair of 2-inch drivers and two passive radiators that effectively serve as the woofer in diminutive portable speakers such as this. The active drivers are powered by dual 10-watt Class D amplification. The radiators are powered only by the active drivers’ air pressure.
These are small drivers in a small (2.68 x 6.3 x 2.99 inches, HxWxD) enclosure. And this tiny slab o’ sound weighs only 1.5 pounds. To achieve a big-for-its-size sound, the Emberton II uses a multidirectional sound technology that Zound has dubbed “True Stereophonic,” which the company says offers “absolute 360-degree sound.” (Your ears are always the best judge of digital signal processing.)
If one Emberton II doesn’t quite fulfill your surrounded-by-sound wishes, you can now add–and pair–multiple Emberton IIs using the speaker’s Stack Mode.
Your music session will definitely last longer with the Emberton II, reaching an estimated 30 hours of portable playtime on a three-hour charge. A quick-charge feature adds four hours of playtime in 20 minutes. The battery’s longer life is likely also aided by a shift to Bluetooth 5.1 from the original’s Bluetooth 5.0.
The new app offers basic controls, including equalizer presets, and access to over-the-air firmware updates. The Emberton II also has an onboard control rocker to play, pause, or skip tracks; adjust volume; and turn the speaker on or off.
The Emberton II, with a silicone exterior and metal grille, has a IP67 weatherization rating, which means it can survive submersion in up to a meter of water for as long as 30 minutes. Zound didn’t make any dust-incursion claims for the previous-generation model, rating it IPX7. You can read all about IP codes at the preceding link.
Zound says the Emberton II is an Earth-friendly speaker, by virtue of having been manufactured of 50 percent post-consumer recycled plastic from used electronics, water bottles, and automotive light covers. It’s 100 percent PVC-free, too.
Expect the same sound signature in Willen, but in an even smaller (4 x 3.96 x 1.59 inches, HxWxD) and lighter (0.68 pounds) package.
The Willen has a single, 2-inch full-range driver and two passive radiators. It gets at least three hours on a single charge, with a 20-minute quick charge providing three hours of playtime.
Notably, the Willen has a built-in microphone for hands-free phone or video chat. And a rubber, back-mounted strap means you can place the tiny speaker almost anywhere.
Like the Emberton II, the Willen offers app control, multi-speaker pairing, an IP67 rating, and sustainability: It’s PVC-free and 60 percent of its plastic is post-consumer recycled from used electronics.
Both speakers should be available soon. We’ll publish in-depth reviews as soon as we can land evaluation units.
Kevin, a former consumer electronics columnist for The Chicago Tribune, writes about technology and health from his home on the Connecticut shoreline overlooking an osprey platform. Smart-home confession: He has two nightlights in his home connected to smart plugs.