If you know anyone that has ever played an instrument then you likely know of Marshall. The company has been making amps for decades, but in recent years has been making a push into Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled speakers. The design of the speakers hasn’t changed much but the functionality has. The Marshall Uxbridge Voice with Alexa is one of the newer smart speakers from the company, but it seems like nobody talks about it. Which makes you wonder, is it even any good?
Who is it for?
- People in the Amazon Alexa ecosystem. This particular model has Amazon Alexa built-in which lets you control music and even your smart home devices with just your voice.
- Anyone that wants a good sounding smart speaker. Most smart speakers sound average at best, and the ones that actually sound good are huge. The Uxbridge Voice bridges that gap nicely offering good sound in a compact size.
- People who already have another Marshall smart speaker. You can add this speaker to a group for muiltiroom audio.
What’s it like to use the Marshall Uxbridge Voice?
Using the Marshall Uxbridge Voice speaker every day has been great. It’s everything I like about the Marshall speakers I’ve reviewed in the past, but with smart speaker features. The Uxbridge Voice sticks with the gorgeous classic amp design that Marshall is known for. The speaker looks good anywhere and thanks to the small size (128 x 168 x 123mm) it fits nicely on my desk, on my bookshelf, or my bedside table. Where the Marshall Stanmore that I previously reviewed was huge, the compact size of the Uxbridge Voice makes it instantly more practical. It’s still slightly bigger than other smart speakers like the new Google Nest Audio or the Amazon Echo 4th generation, but it also sounds better.
The speaker has a few buttons scattered around, but the most prominent ones are the thin brass buttons up top. These three buttons let you adjust volume and provide some basic EQ settings as well. You can raise or lower the bass or treble right from the speaker which is helpful when your phone isn’t nearby. The microphones also pick up the hotword “Alexa” very well and even with music playing loudly I had very few issues getting the speaker to hear me.
Holding down the mic button turns off the microphone.
If you have issues you can also activate Alexa by simply pressing the mic button. Holding it down for a seconds will disconnect the mic entirely. Then there’s the multifunction button to the left that lets you pause or play music and skip between the tracks. The last button is the Bluetooth pairing button which is located on the back of the speaker above the power supply.
Setting up the speaker was also easy. All you need to do is plug it in and follow the steps in the Marshall Voice and Amazon Alexa apps to set it up. Setup is fairly simple as they both walk you through the process of connecting the speaker to your Wi-Fi network and then turning on the Alexa functionality. If you already have another device with Amazon Alexa compatibility you can group them together based on rooms for a multiroom experience. Of course, Marshall would probably prefer you use other Marshall speakers, but it works just fine with Echo devices as well.
The Alexa compatibility means that you can also control any smart devices you may have around your home as well just by adding the appropriate skill. Unfortunately, I do not live in the Amazon Alexa ecosystem so I wasn’t able to test anything besides simple music playback. This brings me to one of the more obvious downsides to this speaker: you need to be in the Alexa ecosystem. This particular model of the Marshall Uxbridge Voice is not compatible with any of the other popular voice assistants. If you’re after Google Assistant you’ll have to purchase the version of this speaker that is compatible with Google Cast directly from the Marshall website. It’s annoying that you have to choose, but this likely isn’t the fault of Marshall.
How is the connection?
The Marshall Uxbridge Voice is a Wi-Fi speaker, so the connection is only as good as your service provider. I have no issues when trying to play music from Spotify or Amazon Music and asking Alexa questions yields results fairly quickly. The only issue that I have with the Uxbridge Voice has to do with streaming service support, which is a problem with basically all Amazon Alexa devices and isn’t unique to this speaker. My preferred streaming service for music and podcasts at the moment are YouTube Music and Pocket Casts, respectively. Unfortunately, neither one is supported. At the time of this review the supported music or podcast services are:
The only way to stream from other services is to pair your source device via to the Marshall Uxbridge Voice over Bluetooth 4.2. This process is easy enough so it isn’t much of a hassle, but it means that you’ll be limited to the roughly 10m range of Bluetooth which isn’t as good as what you’ll get while connected over Wi-Fi. If you’re on iOS you can also just Airplay your audio as this has Airplay 2 compatibility, but Android users are out of luck in that regard.
Does the Marshall Uxbridge Voice have a battery?
No, the Marshall Uxbridge Voice does not have a battery. Despite its small size, this speaker isn’t very portable. It needs to be plugged in at all times, so if you want to pick it up and bring it with you to another room you’ll need to disconnect it entirely.
How is the microphone on this speaker?
As I mentioned above, I had no issues getting this speaker to pick up my voice when saying the hotword “Alexa.” Even when music was playing loudly it did a good job at picking up my voice even when I was across the room. Unfortunately, it has issues working when connected to another device and set as the input, so I was unable to get a graph to show for this section. Practically, what this means for you is that if you connect this speaker to your phone, you won’t be able to use the built-in microphone for phone calls.
How is the sound quality of the Marshall Uxbridge Voice?
The Marshall Uxbridge Voice sounds really considering the size. While you’ll likely have a hard time hearing the super low basslines around 60Hz and below, the low end overall is given some extra emphasis that makes this speaker sound bigger than it is. In the song Young Folks by Peter Bjorn and John the rolling bassline is loud enough that you can easily hear it over the rest of the instrumentation. While it does slightly mask the strings that come in at around the 1:10 I found that overall it did a good job for the size.
Besides that slight masking in the lows I had no issues with how this speaker sounded. The vocals in the song Monkey Tree by Mother Mother sounded crispy clear and were perfectly audible over the numerous synths in the background. Highs were also handles great and the hi-hats and snare hits never sounded harsh. While I wouldn’t recommend suing this for any critical listening, playing music with the Uxbridge Voice was a definite upgrade over some of the other smart speakers sprinkled around my apartment.
Is the Marshall Uxbridge Voice worth it?
If you’re looking for a smart speaker that sounds good and won’t take up too much space on your bookshelf then the Marshall Uxbridge Voice is definitely worth the money. The classic amp design and sound quality here makes it well worth the money as long as you’re already in the Amazon Alexa ecosystem. If you’re like me and live in a Google world with a Chromecast in every TV then you can get all the same bells and whistles with the Google version. Either way, if your priority is sound quality this speaker sounds as good as it looks and sounds better than most other smart speakers I’ve tried. Plus, the Uxbridge Voice works perfectly with other Marshall Wi-Fi speakers. So if you already have one of their larger wireless speakers and want to get another speaker for a different room than this is a solid choice.