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Marshall Willen Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Jul 18, 2022 at 10:23 am
Marshall Willen Picture
5.9
Music
5.6
Videos/Movies
7.5
Podcasts
2.8
Voice Assistant
7.4
Outdoors
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
No
Speakerphone
Yes
Voice Assistant
No
Battery Powered
Yes

The Marshall Willen is a portable Bluetooth speaker with a smaller, more compact design than the manufacturer's other speakers like the Marshall Emberton. It features the manufacturer's signature amplifier-inspired retro design, with a built-in carrying strap and a durable build that's ideal for listening while on the go. There's even an app on hand to let you control some of its features, including some EQ presets to customize its sound and 'Stack Mode' to pair it with other Willen speakers for a more immersive sound.

Our Verdict

5.9 Music

The Marshall Willen is disappointing for music. It boasts balanced mid and treble ranges, so most vocals and lead instruments are clear and present in the mix. However, there's a noticeable lack of rumble in the bass, even compared to other small, portable speakers. You don't feel much thump and punch, which is disappointing if you love bass-centric genres like EDM and hip-hop. There are EQ presets on hand to adjust its sound, but they can't make up for the lack of low-bass.

Pros
  • EQ presets in the app.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • Some compression at max volume.
5.6 Videos/Movies

The Marshall Willen is disappointing for videos and movies. You can pair it with your phone or tablet via Bluetooth to watch shows, and its low latency means that you don't notice any lip-synching issues, which is nice. However, the lack of low-bass is noticeable, and you don't feel the rumble in action-packed scenes. Its soundstage is pretty narrow and directional, too, so it doesn't feel like the action is happening around you.

Pros
  • Low latency over iOS and Android.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • Narrow, directional soundstage.
7.5 Podcasts

The Marshall Willen is good for podcasts. Voices are reproduced clearly and with detail, thanks to its balanced mids, and you don't notice the lack of bass as much since there usually isn't a lot of bass mixed into podcasts in the first place. Its portable design is handy, too, since you can bring it along from room-to-room as you binge the latest episodes of your favorite show. It gets loud enough to fill your room, but you notice some compression at its max volume.

Pros
  • EQ presets in the app.
  • Portable design.
Cons
  • Some compression at max volume.
2.8 Voice Assistant

The Marshall Willen has a built-in microphone for phone calls, but unfortunately, it doesn't support voice assistant technology.

7.4 Outdoors

The Marshall Willen is satisfactory for outdoor use. Its compact, portable design makes it easy to bring with you on the go, and there's even a built-in strap on the back of the speaker. It's rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, so you don't have to worry about getting dirt and sand in the speaker, and you can drop it in water for up to thirty minutes without issue. Given its small design, it's not a big surprise that it doesn't get as loud as larger speakers on the market, but it's still suitable for smaller gatherings.

Pros
  • Portable design.
  • IP67 rating for dust and water resistance.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • Some compression at max volume.
  • 5.9 Music
  • 5.6 Videos/Movies
  • 7.5 Podcasts
  • 2.8 Voice Assistant
  • 7.4 Outdoors
  1. Updated Jul 18, 2022: Review published.
  2. Updated Jul 05, 2022: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights No

The Marshall Willen is a very small, portable Bluetooth speaker with a square design. It has the signature Marshall guitar amplifier look, much like the Marshall Emberton. There's also a silicone strap on the back.

9.4
Design
Portability
Volume
24 in³ (400 cm³)
Weight
0.7 lbs (0.3 kg)
Power Source
Battery & USB
One-Hand Carry
Yes

The Marshall Willen is incredibly portable. Its small, lightweight design makes it easy to bring along with you, and there's even a strap on the back. Since it's battery-powered, you don't need to plug it into any power source when you take it outdoors.

7.9
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Good
Water Resistance
Submersible (IPx7)
Dust Resistance
Dust-Proof (IP6x)
Impact Resistance
No
Floats In Water
Unspecified

The Marshall Willen has a great build quality. The speaker's mostly made of recycled plastic, and the materials feel sturdy and solid. It's also rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, meaning that it's protected if you submerge it in water at a depth of up to one meter for up to thirty minutes. The manufacturer says to avoid dropping it, though.

8.0
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Great
Feedback
Great
Music Play/Pause
Yes (Physical)
Call Answer/End
Yes (Physical)
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Physical)
Track Next/Previous
Yes (Physical)
Microphone On/Off
No
Additional Controls
Yes

The controls are easy-to-use. There's one control knob on the front that lets you control most of the basic features. You can hold it for two seconds to turn the speaker on and off, which triggers a short guitar riff. Press it to play and pause your music or to answer and end a phone call. Turn it left or right to skip forward or backward to the next track.

There's also a Bluetooth button on top of the speaker. Press and hold it until the light starts flashing to enter pairing mode, and a chime goes off to let you know that it paired successfully. You can also triple-press it to enter "Stack Mode"—this feature lets to pair multiple Willen speakers for a bigger, more immersive sound.

Design
In The Box

  • Manuals
  • Marshall Willen speaker
  • USB-C charging cable

Sound
5.8
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
1.30
Std. Err.
2.76 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
113.1 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
18.5 kHz

The Marshall Willen's frequency response accuracy is middling. It has a pretty neutral, balanced sound in the mid and treble ranges, where most voices and lead instruments reproduce. As a result, when you listen to most music genres and vocal-centric content like podcasts, voices and instruments are clear and detailed in the mix. Unfortunately, it struggles to reproduce bass, even compared to other small speakers. You don't feel the thump and punch, which is disappointing if you love bass-centric genres like hip-hop and EDM. There are a couple of EQ presets on hand to control its sound, but they can't lower the low-frequency extension. For a Marshall speaker that can produce a more extended low-bass, check out the Marshall Emberton II.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
5.4
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
4.86 dB
Stereo
No (mono)

The Marshall Willen has a middling soundstage performance. It downmixes stereo content into mono to play it since it doesn’t have separate speakers for its left and right channels. As a result, instruments and sound effects in your audio aren’t localized to a pinpoint location. Instead, they sound like they’re coming from the front of the speaker, which isn’t as immersive-sounding. For example, if you play a song that normally has the drums on the left and the guitar on the right, the speaker won’t playback that distinction. Also, since its front-facing speaker, its soundstage is pretty directional, meaning its sound doesn’t spread evenly around your room.

6.8
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
87.9 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
2.34 dB

The Marshall Willen has a fair dynamics performance. It gets loud enough to fill a small room with sound, which is pretty good given its compact design. There's some compression when you push it to max volume, though, especially in the bass range. You notice compression and pumping artifacts at louder volumes as a result.

Active Features
9.0
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
14.5 hrs
Charge Time
2.6 hrs
Power Saving
Yes
Charging Port
USB-C

The Marshall Willen's battery performance is excellent. It lasts for over fourteen hours on a single charge and automatically powers off after twenty minutes of inactivity to help conserve the battery. If you're on the go, you can charge it for twenty minutes to get three hours of playtime, according to the manufacturer.

0
Active Features
Voice Assistant
Alexa
No
Google Assistant
No
Siri
No
Voice Activation
No
Microphone Mute
No
Far-Field Performance
No Assistant
Ambient Noise Performance
No Assistant
6.0
Active Features
App
App Name
Marshall Bluetooth
iOS
Yes
Android
Yes
EQ
Presets
Stereo Pair Mode
No
Party Mode
Yes
Multi-Room
No

The Marshall Bluetooth app gives you access to some additional features. For example, you can adjust its sound a bit using its EQ presets. 'Marshall' is the default mode, 'Voice' enhances the mid-range, and 'Push' boosts the mid-bass and the treble. You can also control the 'Stack Mode' feature, which lets you pair multiple Willen speakers together for a bigger, more immersive sound.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Wired
Aux Input
No
USB Audio
No
Other Ports
No

The only input is the USB-C port for charging the speaker.

9.6
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.1
Bluetooth iOS Latency
33 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
32 ms
Bluetooth Range
255.9 ft (78.0 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices

The Marshall Willen has fantastic Bluetooth connectivity. You can pair it with up to two devices at once, and its large range ensures you stay connected even if your device is far away from the speaker. With its low latency, it's suitable for videos, too. The audio you hear is in sync with the video you see. Some apps compensate for latency differently, so your real-world experience can vary.

0
Connectivity
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Version
No Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Frequency Band
No Wi-Fi
Apple AirPlay
No
AirPlay Latency
N/A
Google Chromecast
No
Chromecast Latency
N/A

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Marshall Willen is available in two color variants: 'Black' and 'Cream'. We tested the 'Black' variant, and you can see the label here.

If you come across another version of this speaker, let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The Marshall Willen is a portable Bluetooth speaker with a stylish, retro design that's typical of offerings from the manufacturer. While its durable build makes it ideal for use while on the go, its sound quality is lacking, especially for its price. The lack of bass is noticeable, and the EQ presets in the app can't make up for the lack of rumble. If you're looking for something simple, especially for content without a lot of bass mixed in, it's a fine choice, though.

See also our recommendations for the best Bluetooth speakers, the best waterproof speakers, and the best portable speakers.

JBL Flip 6

The JBL Flip 6 is better than the Marshall Willen for most uses. They're both portable Bluetooth speakers, but the JBL reproduces more bass, meaning you feel more rumble in bass-heavy music. Its soundstage is better, and it comes with more sound enhancement tools, like a graphic EQ. Its battery life isn't quite as long as the Marshall's, but at almost six hours, it should still get you through most listening sessions.

Marshall Emberton

The Marshall Emberton is better than the Marshall Willen for most uses. The Emberton is a slightly bigger speaker that reproduces more bass, so you feel more rumble in genres like hip-hop and EDM. It's a stereo speaker with a better soundstage, too. However, the Willen is more suited for outdoor use, thanks to its smaller, more portable design with a built-in carrying strap. It even boasts a longer battery life and an app with more customization tools.

JBL Charge 5

The JBL Charge 5 is a better choice for music than the Marshall Willen. They're both portable Bluetooth speakers, but the JBL can reproduce a much more extended low-bass, so you feel more rumble in bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. It's more customizable, too, with a graphic EQ that lets you control its sound across the range.

Bose SoundLink Flex

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Bose SoundLink Flex or the Marshall Willen. They're both portable Bluetooth speakers with different strengths. The Bose supports voice assistants from your smartphone, unlike the Marshall, and it reproduces a more extended low-bass. As a result, you feel more rumble, especially with bass-heavy genres like EDM. The Marshall is more customizable, with EQ presets to help you control its sound, though it can't get a similar bass response to the Bose.

JBL Xtreme 3

The JBL Xtreme 3 is a better portable Bluetooth speaker than the Marshall Willen. The JBL can reproduce a much more extended low-bass, so you feel more rumble, especially in bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. It's more customizable, with a graphic EQ that lets you control its sound across the range. It's better built, too.

Marshall Emberton II

The Marshall Emberton II is a better speaker than the Marshall Willen. The Emberton II offers a wider-sounding soundstage and can produce a significantly more extended low-bass than the Willen. Its sound profile is more balanced. It can also play stereo content without downmixing it to mono, resulting in a more immersive soundstage. However, the Willen has significantly less compression present at max volume, so audio sounds cleaner at louder volume levels. It's also a bit smaller in size, making it a bit more portable.

Bose SoundLink Revolve+ II

The Bose SoundLink Revolve+ II is a better choice for music than the Marshall Willen. The Bose reproduces more low-bass, so there's noticeably more rumble, especially with bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. Unlike the Marshall, it supports voice assistants from your smartphone, too. Its battery life isn't as long as the Marshall's, and it doesn't come with an EQ, but it still lasts long enough for most listening sessions.

Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM 3

The Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM 3 is better than the Marshall Willen. The Ultimate Ears is another small, portable Bluetooth speaker, but its build feels more durable than the Marshall, and it's larger. It reproduces more low-bass, too, and its app features a graphic EQ to give you more control over its sound. Its 360-design provides a better soundstage as well.

Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2

The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2 is better than the Marshall Willen. The Ultimate Ears is another small, portable Bluetooth speaker, but its build feels more durable than the Marshall. It reproduces more low-bass, too, and its 360-design provides a better soundstage.

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