Have you ever looked at your Marshall amp and thought to yourself, “Gee, I wish I could bring this to the beach.” Marshall sure hopes so, because its new Emberton speaker is a durable and portable Bluetooth speaker you can throw in your bag and bring with you on your next adventure. This is a different approach to Bluetooth speakers than Marshall has taken in the past, as it typically produces large and loud speakers. So is the new Emberton Bluetooth speaker any good or should you skip it?
Editor’s note: This article was updated on October 28, 2020, to answer a question in the FAQ regarding how the Marshall Emberton compares to the UE Boom 3.
Who should get the Marshall Emberton?
- Fans of the Marshall design. While the Emberton is a good speaker there are certainly better portable options out there. It’s just none of them look this good.
- People headed to the beach or the pool. If you’re going to be relaxing near water then this might be worth looking into for you. The lack of anywhere to add a clip or a string though makes it hard to recommend for anyone on the move. For example, not sure how you would take this hiking unless you put it in your bag.
How’s the build and design?
If you’ve owned a product from Marshall in the past then you know what to expect here. The Emberton speaker stays well-within the design language we’ve come to expect from the company. This means that you’ll get an all-black design with a metal grille and gold accents just like its famous amps. While I typically like it on larger speakers and even the headphones, I found it an odd choice for something like a small, portable Bluetooth speaker. Still, I can’t deny that it does look pretty cool. I’m just concerned with how hot this thing is going to get if left out on a beach blanket or poolside. To that end you don’t have to be worried about water damage thankfully as the Emberton comes with an IPX7 water-resistant rating making it perfectly fine to use near water since it can be submerged in up to 1m of water for about 30 minutes.
Of course, it doesn’t float so try not to drop it in the pool (or obviously the ocean). If you’re looking for a speaker that floats definitely check out the UE Wonderboom 2 as that will float on top of the water so you can retrieve it. But I digress, back to the Emberton: the front and back of the speaker have a soft metal grille protecting the internals, and the whole thing is wrapped in a soft silicone that really mimics the look of leather.
On the front of the speaker you’ll get the classic all-white Marshall logo but besides that, the design is pretty minimal. There’s the gold knob up top that controls playback and power, a battery indicator that fills up with red-bars, and that’s about it. Marshall also made it a point to make sure the Emberton was easy to carry around. The compact size of the speaker makes it easy to stuff on top of an already full bag and at just 0.7kg (24.6oz), it won’t weigh you down either.
How well does the Marshall Emberton stay connected?
As far as specs go the Emberton is rocking Bluetooth 5.0, and unfortunately has no higher quality Bluetooth streaming codec compatibility. This means that it defaults down to the standard SBC shared by all devices which is a bit of a bummer. I would’ve at least liked to see aptX or even AAC, but it’s not like I encountered any weird lip sync issues while watching YouTube videos.
The connection was great in my experience and I didn’t really have any issues. In a few days of testing the speaker around my apartment I didn’t have a single skip or stutter unless I was specifically testing the range which is about 10 meters.
As far as playback controls go I did really enjoy using the golden knob to control all playback. It’s a unique way to control your music that works a lot better here than it does on the Marshall headphones. On the headphones the tiny knob was a little hard to hit the correct playback control, especially when you’re wearing them. That isn’t a problem with the speaker and because the knob is larger it’s easier to get accurate results.
How to pair the speaker
Pairing to the Emberton speaker is pretty straightforward and just requires you know how to navigate your Bluetooth settings. First, you need to power on the speaker by holding down the golden button on top. Once it turns on you just need to press the Bluetooth button to the left of the gold knob in order to enter pairing mode.
Does the Marshall Emberton have a microphone?
Whether you’re at the beach or floating in the pool and can’t get to your phone, having a built-in microphone in your Bluetooth speaker can be pretty helpful. Unfortunately, the Emberton doesn’t have a microphone which shouldn’t be a dealbreaker for most, but it’s still something to keep in mind if that’s important to you. If you want something more portable that does have a microphone consider the Bose SoundLink Micro.
How long does the battery of the Marshall Emberton last?
With Bluetooth speakers you can usually guess the battery life just by the size of the speaker. The larger the speaker, the longer the battery life, but that isn’t the case with the Emberton. At first glance, I figured it would be rated at around 10 or 12 hours, but Marshall claims a lot more. According to the specs, the battery will last you 20 hours of constant playback, which is super impressive. In my testing I got exactly 13 hours and 48 minutes, which isn’t bad by any means.
It’s not the longest battery we’ve ever tested but considering the size of the speaker it gets the job done. The speaker also charges via USB-C, so you only need to carry one cable to charge everything (unless you have an iPhone as those still use Lightning for some reason). There’s also a quick charge feature that will give you a quick juice to provide five hours of playback after just 20 minutes on the charger.
How does the Marshall Emberton speaker sound?
The Marshall Emberton emphasizes bass notes with a slight de-emphasis in the midrange, which could result in some noticeable auditory masking. However, environmental noise like wind or beach waves are more likely to mask your audio than the slight bass bump, so the frequency response alone shouldn’t be cause for concern.
While the size makes it hard for it to hit the deep lows of Vanish in Our Sleep by Rob Roy the extra emphasis between 100-200Hz does a decent job at faking. You can still faintly hear the rolling bassline in the background but it unfortunately doesn’t have much power to it. The mids on the other hands took a weird dip around 900Hz which makes certain instruments come across a little quieter than I’m used.
You can hear this when the guitar starts in the background of the song Outta My Head by Khalid. It’s supposed to be accompanying the vocals but instead it’s just kind of hard to hear. On the brightside, I didn’t have too many issues with the highs but it takes a similar approach to the lows. Instead of staying flat all the way up to 20kHz it sort of pushes the volume up around 12kHz and then fades off. It isn’t a big deal, since most people aren’t going to be listening for hi-hat detail with this speaker. Overall, I really enjoyed the sound of the Emberton and while it isn’t going to hold a candle to the larger offerings from the company, it definitely gives the waterproof Bluetooth speaker market some competition.
Should you buy the Marshall Emberton?
If you’re in the market for a portable Bluetooth speaker for the summer, the Marshall Emberton makes a strong case for why you should pick one up. It’s small, has an IPX7 build, sounds good, and looks cool. For anyone that wants a speaker that doesn’t look like it came straight out of a cartoon, the Marshall design bleeds over nicely into this portable speaker. That said, I would prefer if my portable speaker didn’t look like an amp, but upon seeing it my roommate said, “Oh! What is this? I like it!” So your mileage may vary.
It's definitely a head turner that lives up to the Marshall name.
The battery life isn’t super impressive and, even though it’s small in size, I would’ve liked if there was a way to conveniently carry like a strap or something similar. Still, for $149 it’s definitely a head turner that lives up to the Marshall name as far as sound and build quality goes. I would say the only people who should buy the Marshall Emberton are those who seriously love how it looks. Otherwise, nothing about it is going to blow you away.
If all you want is a cheap, waterproof speaker to toss around at the beach then there are plenty of other options to choose from that won’t cost you as much. But for those that are intentional with how they spend their money the Marshall Emberton is a solid little speaker that you won’t be disappointed with.
Frequently Asked Questions
The UE Boom 3 is a much more durable product, thanks to its IP67 dust and water resistance rating. The speaker is also supported by Ultimate Ears' Boom app, which gives you access to EQ controls, PartyUp (connect up to 150 speakers together), and remote power toggle. On the other hand, the Marshall Emberton has much better sound quality, despite its lack of any app support. If you're looking for a nice party-oriented speaker, the UE Boom 3 should suffice. For people who prioritize sound quality above all, the Marhsall Emberton would be the better pick.
With its IPX7 waterproof rating, the Marshall Emberton is more than okay to use in the shower. However, if you're looking for a dedicated speaker just for that use case, we recommend checking out our complete list of the best shower speakers, with options that strike a balance between sound quality, durability, portability, and mounting options.
The Uxbridge Voice is another sub-$200 Bluetooth speaker from Marshall. Unlike the Emberton, it features voice assistant integration with either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, in addition to more powerful amps for the woofers. However, the Uxbridge Voice lacks the IPX7 waterproof rating of the Emberton, which is not ideal for outdoor use. If sound quality and voice assistant integration is important to you, go with the Marshall Uxbridge voice. For a speaker that is portable, durable, and sounds great, look no further than the Marshall Emberton.
Unfortunately, no. The Marshall Bluetooth app, which contains software EQ functionality, only supports the company's newer and higher-end Bluetooth speakers, such as the Stanmore II.