Marshall Stockwell Bluetooth Speaker Review

I have wanted to do this review for the Marshall Stockwell Bluetooth speaker for a while, and it seems, given the number of emails I received about it, most of you do too. A few years back, Marshall got dipped their toe into the consumer audio market, and since then, it seems they have gone ballistic with the number of speakers and headphones they have put out. 

For this review, I had the option of going bigger or smaller in the Marshall speaker range, but the Stockwell, which sits right in the middle of the companies Bluetooth speaker lineup, just seemed right. So after a couple of months, how does it stack up, and can it beat my favorite speaker in this category, the mighty iLoud.

What is the Marshall Stockwell Bluetooth Speaker?

The Stockwell is Marshall’s mid-priced and mid-sized Bluetooth speaker designed to be used around the house, but it is still small enough to travel in a pinch. It has a claimed battery life of 25 hours, can be used to charge your phone on the go, and houses 2 2.5 inch drivers and hard controls for bass, midrange, and treble.

Build Quality & Styling

The build quality is a bit of a mixed bag for a speaker intended to be used on the go.  For the most part, everything is excellent, from the surrounding housing right down to the tactile feel of the control knobs. In a big way, what bothers me is that they stuck such a poor front grill on the thing.

It’s a sort of cloth mesh that doesn’t really inspire confidence in its long-term durability when taken out of the home.  I get that they are trying to keep everything in line with the Marshall design ethos, but there comes the point where style must take a back seat to functionality.

Ok, I will admit that I am a huge fan of the styling. Its retro design looks very cool and definitely in line with the compani’s amps, making them an icon in the music industry. The dials on top give a further nod to that design ethos, and it is actually a very nice addition to fiddle with the eq settings without digging into your phone’s settings. 

In Fact, the whole top plate with its brass style is quite charming, and we liked the tactile buttons as opposed to the touch-sensitive buttons that many of the competitors are going with nowadays. When not in use, you can press the buttons back into the chassis, making the speaker much easier to pack.

For as good-looking as the speaker is at the front, it’s positively hideous from the back with all the quality control stickers going on, but thankfully you get a flip over a leather case that helps cover that up.

Features – Battery, Range, etc

While the Stockwell isn’t as feature-rich as the Creative iRoar Go, it has a few tricks up its sleeve.  As mentioned, you get the ability to control the volume and EQ settings directly from the device, but round the back, you will also find a USB 2.0 port which you can connect your phone to charge.  My only gripe with this is its placement should have been on one of the speaker’s sides, as having a cable sticking right out the back seems like an afterthought on such a sleek design.

Battery life is stated at 25 hours and running it at about 80% volume for us it got close to that figure which is quite admirable.

The button layout is ridiculous as it doesn’t give you the option to control playback on the device.  That’s fine in other minimal speakers, but seriously you’re going to give me the option to adjust the treble but not skip a track? Whoever thought that was a good idea should be fired.

Sound Quality

You would think that having such a historical pedigree and reputation for good sound, this little speaker would live up to their claims of great sound.  Unfortunately, I really found it to be lacking, especially when the price is considered.  It’s not bad per see, but it really leaves you wanting.  For most people, this will be fine, but two things stood out to me. 

The first was the rather anemic and weak low end. I would have expected a far deeper low end from such a design, but Marshall Stockwell fails to give a real sense of depth and really comes apart at high volume. That performance at high volume is the second downside; yes, the bass is badly affected, but so is the rest of the sound, and it starts to degrade quite badly as you push the unit harder.

At more moderate volume, the speaker sounded good with rock and pop genres with pleasant smooth mids. The top end was at times a bit harsh, but other times, I quite enjoyed the sparkle. I wish it had more of a grown to compliment EDM music.

In terms of loudness, it did get quite loud even though that distortion is hard to ignore.  You could fill a decent-sized room with enough sound.

Competition? Here are 3 Alternatives!

Safe to say, as much as I love the Marshall Stockwell speaker’s design, there is no way I would actually buy one. From what I have personally heard, there are just too many better options on the market.  My two favorites will fall towards how you intend on using your Bluetooth speaker. 

For fixed use at home – Edifier R1700BT

These Edifiers blew us away in our recent review with the fantastic audio fidelity and power displayed with a wide variety of music. Imagine our surprise when they came in well under $200, making them a very suitable competitor for the Stockwell. Yes, these need to be plugged in and wired together, but they have high-resolution Bluetooth and are actively powered, so no need for an amp. I use these personally in my office and have nothing but good things to say about them.

For portable home use – IK Multimedia iLoud

If I were getting something similar in size and shape (just a bit bigger), I would (and have) grab the IK Multimedia iLoud.

This speaker has been on the market for a few years now, but its sound quality and performance are just off the charts.

It easily beats out the Marshall for sound and builds quality, although, admittedly, it is nowhere near as good looking as the Stockwell.

Read our iLoud Review here.

 

For Portable Use – Minirig 3

If you are a regular reader of Audiophile On, you already know what I will say. Yes, you should buy the Minirig 3 Bluetooth speaker. 

This little guy sounds better, is smaller, is better built, and has an ungodly 50 hours of battery life. Truly it is the best portable speaker on the market today.

Oh, and I should mention you can get 2 of them and chain them together for the same price as the marshal and daisy chain them together for some mind-melting sound.

Read our Minirig 3 Review here.

Conclusion – Looks good but lacks some substance.

It’s a shame that the Marshall Stockwell fails to sound as good as it looks. Having a long history of using Marshal amps, I really wanted to like the speaker. Still, given its price and mediocre sound performance, I would have a tough time recommending it to anyone.  It’s not really that it is a bad speaker. It’s just that there are now so many speakers on the market that sound better.

Audiophile Onhttp://www.audiophileon.com
Audiophile On is a website dedicated to high-end audio products. With over 15 years as a reviewer, all articles are hand-written by one person to allow the comparison of products. Headphones, earphones, speakers, amplifiers, or DAC's we cover here.

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