Who is Marshall?
As some of you know, Marshall isn’t all that new when it comes to creating extremely high-end audio equipment. They’ve been doing it for decades. However, they’ve focused almost primarily in the musical instrument market with their revered amplifiers. The Marshall brand is widely known in the guitar community as the best darned amplifiers money can buy. They have a warm signature sound along with signature looks that lets you know you’ve got the best equipment to annoy your neighbors with. It’s impossible to watch a big rock show and not see the Marshall brand stamped on the tower of amplified speakers.
They haven’t offered anything in the consumer market… until now
To branch out, Marshall started a new brand: Marshall Headphones. Along with audiophile-grade headphones, they have made traditional wireless Bluetooth speakers, and recently announced, they will be adding WiFi speakers to their lineup. To control, use the new Marshall app to choose which speakers play audio and even for multi-room setups that supports Chromecast, AirPlay, Spotify Connect, etc. The coolest part is that the WiFi abilities are being added to the existing speaker lineup; which means each speaker is easily portable with a battery, Bluetooth option, standard 3.5mm jack, and even RCA ports. The updated control panel can even switch between 7 customizable preset Spotify stations.
A WiFi Speaker solution from Marshall
Compared to the current industry leader in WiFi speakers, Sonos, these speakers offer an excellent solution for audio fanatics. It is unclear at the moment if they plan to expand its use-case for a home theater system like Sonos devices can. Where it does shine is the multi-room capabilities and the ease at which it delivers. From your device, wireless play different songs in each room or bring it all together and play the same track through the whole house. You can start with one speaker and build your whole-home system over time.
What makes Marshall’s solution unique?
At first glance, the design harps to when Marshall began their ampifier pioneering back in the ’60s. The classic look should go nicely in either a rustic or modern home décor. To send room-specific music to it, you can use either Marshall’s own user-friendly Multi-Room App or the standard Google Home App as it works with Google Assistant. What makes it quite unique is you can also push audio to it via Chromecast (built-in), Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay, Bluetooth V4.2 + EDR, 3.5 mm audio jack, and even RCA connectors!
How’s the sound quality?
For those that like a warm sound signature that doesn’t overly accentuate the highs and lows for that clean, studio sound. For the utmost retro look, Marshall Multi-Room WiFi speakers pair very well with vinyl turntables (ones with a built-in preamp), and even with the resurgence of reel-to-reel for thet best of both worlds: vintage and crisp clarity.
Improvements We’d like to see
- The Multi-Room speakers are already so versatile and compact, we’d like to see them take it one step further and have the same level of portability by adding rechargeable batteries to the unit just like the non-WiFi models have.
- By themselves, Marshall speakers sound great in just about any room thus far. However, put more of them in a room and there isn’t a way (yet) to pair them into a multi-channel or even stereo configuration.
- Piggy-backing off the previous one, when they do add this functionality, we would like to see more in the product line for an entire home theater setup. If they put their mind to it, they could build fantastic soundbars, subwoofers, Dolby Atmos spacial drivers, ceiling mounted, you name it! They certainly have the engineering prowess to pull off a successful product line.
- When comparing mono-sound, WiFi powered speakers, one thing became rather obvious: sound direction. The Google Home, Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod, and Sonos One all share one thing in common; 360° listening. Marshall only offers the WiFi lineup in front-firing only, which limits placement options.
- Most people would say the design work is borderline masterpiece quality. However, some people don’t like the bold design and would prefer and more subtle look. Just like Amazon did with the new Echo devices, Marshall could offer more design options including color, texture, knob style, and more.