Marshall continues to make headway in the Bluetooth speaker market with the release of the new Middleton. Larger and more powerful than its Willen and Emberton II siblings, it retains its nomadic character while bringing more excitement to your parties.
- Rich, warm and relatively balanced sound
- Good power reserve
- 360° diffusion
- Well-finished and robust design
- Very easy to handle
- Average bass precision
- Battery life is a little disappointing
- Poor app functionality
After successfully tackling the ultra-portable speaker market with the Willen and portable speakers with the Emberton II, Marshall is now tackling the larger Bluetooth speakers with the new Middleton. The Middleton has all the makings of a hormone-powered Emberton II, larger, more powerful, but just as durable and adventurous. With water resistance, a carrying strap and the promise of 20 hours of battery life, the Middleton aims to be the speaker of choice for wild parties indoors and out.
The Middleton does not betray its origins in any way by taking up a design almost similar to that of the Emberton II, released eight months earlier. It has a very recognisable Marshall look, with a non-slip finish around the speaker and two metal grilles protecting the drivers.
As usual, the finish is impeccable. There are no visible assembly traces, and the speaker can withstand a few knocks. It is also IP67 certified and therefore protected against dust, sand and temporary immersion in water (at 1 m for up to 30 minutes). The rubbery coating can get dirty, especially if you often take the speaker on the road.
Compared to the Emberton II, and even more so to the Willen, the Middleton’s imposing size (10.9 x 23 x 9.5 cm for 1.8 kg) inevitably impacts its handling and transport. However, it can be carried easily, thanks to the strap provided.
The Middleton has Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity and supports only the SBC codec. It has a multidrop feature that allows you to connect up to 2 sources simultaneously.
Cable lovers can rest assured that the Middleton also has a mini-jack connector on the back, alongside a USB-C port solely for charging. The latter can also charge any device (smartphone, tablet…).
The Middleton inherits the joystick control from the Emberton II. This efficient solution allows you to control volume, playback, power and track navigation with a single button. To its left are two buttons. One handles Bluetooth pairing, while the other displays the battery level as a gauge. There are four more buttons to manage bass and treble levels to the right.
Adding these buttons makes the Marshall Bluetooth app a questionable solution that ultimately only serves to update the speaker or access the “Stack” mode that allows multiple Middletons to be paired together for more power. A more accurate battery level display and a player are also offered.
The Middleton stayed awake for about 11 hours at 50% of its maximum volume, which is enough time to play in a nice room like a living room or for outdoor use. This is not very pleasant, especially compared to direct competitors such as the Sony SRS-XB33 and its 24 hours or the JBL Xtreme 3 and its 17 hours. To reach the 20 hours promised by Marshall, the volume must be set at around 30%, a moderate level suitable for a medium-sized room.
In addition, you should allow 3 to 4 hours to charge it fully.
We measured a latency of 203ms during Bluetooth communication, which causes some problems with the sound and image of a video lagging. Fortunately, the speaker can compensate for this latency on its own on apps such as Netflix, Amazon Prime or YouTube, but not on video games. For the latter, the use of the mini-jack port is essential.
The Middleton has a much stronger acoustic architecture than the Emberton II. Thus, there are 4 speakers (2 full range and 2 tweeters) and 2 passive radiators equally distributed on two channels broadcasting on both sides of the speaker. This configuration has the merit of offering a much less directive sound than many speakers. The sound diffusion is more or less homogeneous, whatever the user’s position around the speaker.
However, this configuration has a counterpart: it completely distorts the perception of the stereo scene. Indeed, the arrangement of the loudspeakers means that it is rare to enjoy both stereophonic channels at the same time, whatever the position of the loudspeaker. The result is a loss of stereophonic width, and some elements are clearly in the background.
That being said, the Middleton offers a pleasant listening experience thanks to a partly controlled, energetic and relatively balanced rendering. At the low end of the spectrum, the speaker displays an overflowing energy offering more than comfortable seating and a particularly warm rendering. However, we deplore the fact that the bass precision is rather average. Indeed, their “boomy” character can cause masking of the low-midrange and thus mar the good intelligibility of the instruments officiating in this frequency region (drum roll, plucking of a bass string…). It is necessary to calm down this ardour by lowering the bass level using the buttons provided to achieve a less deafening result.
The Middleton then demonstrates a good mastery of the midrange and treble frequencies. It is less sharp than its little sisters, the Emberton II and Willen, but its good definition and voice intelligibility still need improvement. The addition of the tweeters is particularly noticeable in the high frequencies with good precision, which is never distorted unless you push the speaker to its limits. This is a good point because the Middleton shows a beautifully dynamic and generous reserve of usable power.
Unsurprisingly, the Middleton follows in the footsteps of its little sisters, the Emberton II and Willen: it is easy to use, and its robust design is particularly well thought out. It is easy to use and the design is robust and well thought out. It should also please those looking for a powerful and rich sound, indoors and outdoors. However, we would have liked to see better battery life.
Marshall Middleton Bluetooth Wireless Portable Speaker, 20+ hours portable playtime, water resistent IP67 - Black & Brass
|Current Price||£269.27||December 10, 2023|
|Highest Price||£269.99||February 9, 2023|
|Lowest Price||£267.00||August 3, 2023|
Last price changes
|£269.27||December 9, 2023|
|£269.61||December 7, 2023|
|£269.62||November 23, 2023|
|£269.99||September 16, 2023|
|£269.00||September 1, 2023|