Marshall might be a brand name you’re most used to associating with guitar amps, but more recently the company has branched out into headphones, home speakers, and even fridges, apparently.
The speakers come in various shapes and sizes, with a range designed to stay put in your home, and another range designed to be portable. I’ve spent some time using one of Marshall’s newest portable speakers: the Kilburn II. Designed to look like a small amp, it’s simple and stylish – and more importantly, it sounds pretty good, too.
I’m not entirely sure I’d use the Kilburn II for its intended purpose: for a portable speaker, it’s pretty big. It weighs 2.5kg and in terms of dimensions, it’s nearly 10 inches long, 6.5 inches tall and 5.5 inches deep. It’s a chunky little beast, not exactly the type of “portable” that you can just chuck in a bag and forget you’re carrying it around with you. It does have a handle though, which makes it ideal to take into the garden, or to pop in the boot of the car and take to the park.
I’ve mainly used it around the house, and its portability is still useful without having to step out of the front door. Being able to move it to different rooms of the house is definitely handy, with no compromise on power or sound quality. The back of the box promises over 20 hours of portable playtime on a full battery charge, and I didn’t count very carefully but it was certainly pretty close to that.
Connecting to the Kilburn II was very simple, it was simply a case of holding down the Bluetooth button and then searching for the device on my phone. Interestingly, it also supports multi-host, letting two Bluetooth devices connect to the speaker at the same time. Fun if you and a friend want to battle for music supremacy – or just annoy each other by interrupting each other’s favourite tracks. There’s also a 3.5mm jack at the back of the speaker if you want to connect less modern devices to it.
The Bluetooth has a range of around 30 feet, which means you’re generally fine to walk anywhere in the house with your phone in your pocket without losing connection. With the speaker upstairs in the back of the house, walking downstairs with my phone throughout the length of the house didn’t disrupt the connection at all.
In terms of control, the Kilburn II sticks to its amp-like appearance by having a few simple knobs at the top. There’s a volume control, as well as knobs to adjust bass and treble. The bass is pretty impressive for a relatively small speaker, so it’s pretty fun to play around and get the sound just right for whatever you’re listening to. Alongside the control knobs on the top of the unit is a battery gauge, which helpfully shows how much power is left in the unit.
The sound produced by the Kilburn II is very impressive. There are speakers on both the front and back of the unit, making for a wider, more immersive sound. And whether or not you choose to mess with the treble and bass directly on the unit (which you definitely should!), the sound is full and deep. The wattage isn’t massive – there’s one 25 watt class-D amplifier, and and two 15 watt amplifiers, but it utilises them excellently. It’s much more powerful than the previous Kilburn model, though, which had two 5 watt amps and one 15 watt amp. The Kilburn II doesn’t go ridiculously loud, but at full volume, it’s loud enough, and the audio doesn’t lose any quality when you crank it all the way to max.
The build quality is excellent too – it feels solid and robust; I can gladly carry it around and not worry about knocking it. It’s also supposedly water resistant (IPX2, meaning it can withstand drips and splashes)... but I haven’t tested that. Just in case. The front of the speaker is a metal grill, traditional amp style, with the rest of the body coated in a thick leather-style material. It’s definitely eye-catching.
The Marshall Kilburn II retails at £269, putting it somewhere in the middle of Marshall’s speaker range, which ranges from £199 to £479. You certainly get what you pay for in terms of style and durability. For me, I’m won over by its style – and of course the excellent sound quality. It’s a little on the pricey side, sure, but it feels like a product that’s going to last a long time. For me, it’s replacing a four-year-old Samsung M5 speaker, which cost about the same at RRP. The Kilburn II sounds better, and definitely looks better, so it’s a winner from me. Rock on.
To find out more about the Kilburn II and the range of Marshall speakers, visit the official website here.