The personal audio arm of Marshall, a company best-known for its British-built guitar amps, has a new ultra-portable Bluetooth speaker: The $149 Emberton.
The tiny speaker looks like it’s intended to be an electric guitar companion, thanks to the amp-inspired design cues that typifies the entire Marshall line. However, its ambitions are more modest. As an IPX7-rated device with a claimed 20-hour battery life, the Emberton is really just an ultra-stylish alternative to Bluetooth speakers like the JBL Flip 5, Sony SRS-XB23, and the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3.
Even if the Emberton proves to be no better at blasting the tunes that these other speakers, its classy looks could earn it a place on people’s wish lists — most portable, water-resistant Bluetooth speakers look more like fashionable beach toys than quality audio products.
Those looks might be more than skin-deep. Marshall claims the Emberton delivers a sound much louder and larger than its size and outperforms most speakers in its class.
The key to this boast is something the company calls True Stereophonic, which it says is a multi-directional sound experience achieved by “separating out the spatial content of stereo recordings.”
We can’t yet say how successful the Emberton is on the audio front, but we’ve had mixed experiences with the company’s other speakers. Its $399 Tufton speaker proved to be an excellent performer for parties, but its Uxbridge smart speaker was decidedly underwhelming in terms of audio quality.
The Emberton can’t afford to disappoint on sound: There are no extra bells and whistles at all on this portable. You can’t use it as a speakerphone, it won’t let you charge other devices from its battery, there’s no auxiliary input for non-Bluetooth sources, and so far, Marshall hasn’t indicated that you can use the Emberton as a stereo pair or as part of a multi-speaker system — features that have become standard on similarly priced speakers.
What you do get is a two-hour battery that can fast-charge via USB-C (20 minutes will translate into five hours of playtime) and a clever one-button control that lets you play/pause, skip tracks, adjust volume and power the unit up and down. There’s also an LED battery gauge to let you know how much fuel is left in the tank.
If you like the Emberton’s promise of great sound and good looks in a highly portable and water-resistant package, it hits stores July 1 for $149 or less.