Marshall Willen review
Jim Marshall founded the legendary brand that bears his name in 1962. Thus, this year celebrates the 60th anniversary and renews under the aegis of the Swedish licensee Zound Industries almost the entire range of Bluetooth speakers for home and outdoor. Of the mobile speakers from the Scandinavians, of which we have already had a few in the test, the Marshall Willen is the smallest. Its design is also based less on the brand’s legendary guitar amplifiers and more on flat portable speakers from competitors.
With a depth of 4 centimeters, it is really mobile and can fit in any backpack or even handbag. It is also recommended for outdoor use with IP67 water and dust protection, a very good theoretically possible 15 hours of playtime and a really great rubber strap. The is not only meant to be worn, but also clipable. You can easily attach the Marshall Willen to bars, bicycle handlebars or hooks.
At 99 Euros, it almost belongs to the high society in its size category, but accordingly also offers a workmanship and a look above the standard. In addition to the classic black, there is also a cream-colored version. So rather ladies handbag than side bag on the Harley?
How much Marshall is in the Willen?
The style quotations to Jim Marshall’s legendary guitar amplifiers remain discreet at will, anyway. The plastic casing is embossed in a leather look, the Marshall lettering and the front multifunction button are brass-colored – that’s it. The cast plastic grille conveys less retro charm up close, but the manufacturer emphasizes sustainability in the process. The plastic surface, which has a similar soft feel to a car dashboard, is partly made of recycled plastic.
Active sound conversion is provided by a full-range speaker with a diameter of 5 centimeters. This is supported by a mono amplifier with a decent 10 watts and two passive radiators on the sides. These are driven by the air pressure changes in the tiny inner volume and thus use the rear sound of the full range driver for more bass depth.
Amazing battery life, few options
With 310 grams of weight, the Marshall Willen remains within the usual class of flat Bluetooth minis. It surprises with an operating time of 15 hours, which can definitely be exceeded at moderate volume. Very practical: A row of LEDs on the top of the will show the charging status realistically.
For charging, the included USB cable has to be plugged into the USB-C port on the right side. It is the only port of the wireless box that has only one Bluetooth 5.1 interface with the standard SBC codec.
Marshall Bluetooth app or joystick operation?
In fact, the Willen only has two buttons for operation: a Bluetooth pairing button and the aforementioned multifunction button made of brass on the upper right front corner. This serves as an on/off switch as well as for controlling play and pause. And the volume? It controls this as well, via a slight upward or downward tilt function. According to this logic, title jumping works with left/right like with a small joystick. This is really very well thought-out and superior to the usual double-click/long-hold/clamp monkey-grip strategies of other manufacturers. By the way, it also accepts phone calls via the one-button operation, and a microphone is built in.
Some other functions are hidden exclusively in the free Marshall Bluetooth app. The three presets for the EQ are not really worth mentioning, there is no individual EQ.
Otherwise, the app, whose registration is fortunately voluntary, allows firmware updates. However, the battery of the tiny Bluetooth box must be at least 20 percent charged. And two smartphones or tablets can be connected to the speaker simultaneously via Bluetooth in multi-hosting mode. Likewise, in “stack mode” you can form from several Marshall Speakers similar to a party mode.
Hearing test with black mini
Mini Bluetooth speakers are not bass wonders by nature. Physics simply sets limits when small diaphragm areas are at work in small enclosures. And the Marshall Willen is also one of the smallest of the minis. This is good for mobility, but not conducive to deep, rich bass. Compared to that, its bass reproduction even reaches surprisingly deep, especially since it does without superficial effects in contrast to the Tronsmart Element Groove 2.
However, the relatively deep tuning costs it quite a bit of dynamics in its quest to produce a clean, differentiated bass. This philosophy earned the Willen some criticism from many other testers against the backdrop of the official price, which is, however, quite justified by the workmanship. By the way, the EQ mode “Push” does not remedy this. Since the 2-inch broadband driver is already overburdened with the task of producing bass, the sound tuners have no choice but to lower the level of the mids, which are already quite underexposed, even further. While the basically comprehensible strategy works out with the larger, more fully tuned Marshall Emberton 2. it completely backfires on the tiny Willen.
The Willen is somehow unique in it’s class
I personally like the mini Marshall. The tiny Bluetooth speaker goes its own way and definitely has qualities. If you don’t listen loudly, you’ll get a much more differentiated bass reproduction than with some gimmicky little Bluetooth boxes like the jumping Tronsmart Element Groove 2. They only play one frequency with electronic beats and acoustic drums, but as loudly as possible. And the trebles of the Marshall Willen are also quite lively. Above all, the developers have made an effort with the voice reproduction. Thus, the vocal tracks of the music tracks are quite slim, but at least they are not squawky. Unfortunately, this is not a matter of course in this class.
Conclusion and alternatives to the Marshall Willen
The Marshall Willen can’t really claim the sympathy bonus for retro charm. Battery life and intuitive operation stand out from the market environment. Otherwise, there are cheaper and, at least in certain respects, better sounding alternatives among the flat minis: For example, the Tribit Stormbox Micro 2 (reviewed soon on STEREO GUIDE), which plays richer and more dynamically, or the somewhat more harmonious Sharp GC-BT60.
Specifications: Marshall Willen
- Manufacturer’s suggested retail price: 99 euros
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 10 x 10 x 4.1 cm
- Weight: 310 g
- Battery life up to 15 hours
- Features: IP67 water and dust protection, app, stack mode
- More at: www.marshallheadphones.com
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Der Beitrag Marshall Willen review erschien zuerst auf stereoguide.com.