Marshall's Stockwell speaker is a guitar geek's dream regardless of its flaws
Once I first noticed a Marshall-branded speaker introduced a while in the past, I instantly dismissed it as a gimmick. As a recovering musician, I figured the corporate’s line of headphones and different moveable audio gear was just a few center-of-the-street tech decked out within the stylings of the model’s iconic amplifiers. I started to doubt my stance lately, although, as Marshall trotted out its London smartphone aimed toward people who’re critical about enjoying music on their every day driver. The system turned out to be a good piece of package, and pushed me to lastly spend a while with one of many firm’s audio system. With that in thoughts, I gave the $229 Stockwell Bluetooth choice a go. Whereas it will not be one of the best-sounding selection, it definitely checks all of the design packing containers for this former guitar participant.
In case you’ve ever seen a Marshall amp at a live performance, in a music retailer or occur to be the proud proprietor of 1, you will instantly acknowledge the aesthetics right here. The script emblem sits entrance and middle with almost all the accents and any metallic elements coated in gold. Because it started releasing audio system for listening to music, Marshall has been constant in making them seem like miniature amps. The identical is true right here with the Stockwell, though this gadget is far thinner than its predecessors. Beforehand launched Marshall amps, just like the Kilburn, Stanmore and Woburn, maintain an identical development and general proportions of an amplifier. The Stockwell is not almost as deep, although, which fits a great distance when it comes to portability. It’s going to take up about as a lot area in your bag as a ebook, albeit with some heft, making it comparatively straightforward to stow away.
Up entrance, there’s that signature Marshall typography, centered on a strong speaker grille that is designed to imitate the material fronts of a much bigger amp. It is framed with a gold band, whereas the remainder of the speaker’s shell is a plain matte black. All the controls relaxation alongside the highest edge, the place a three.5mm aux enter, supply selector, audio dials and buttons for speakerphone and pairing modes are beside the on/off change. So far as the audio tweaks go, there are pop-up knobs for quantity, bass and treble. All of these controls are gold metallic, which suggests the panel not solely has a premium really feel, but in addition takes me again to time spent with a Marshall JCM900 head and speaker cupboard. Lastly, the facility jack is on the correct aspect in order to not intrude with the non-compulsory flip cowl (extra on that in a second) and there is a USB port on the again to recharge your cellular gadget.
Each every so often, I’ve a little bit of hassle pairing a Bluetooth speaker or set of headphones with my second-gen Moto X. That wasn’t the case right here. After I turned on the wi-fi function on my telephone and put the Stockwell in pairing mode, the 2 related in a matter of seconds. I discussed earlier than that the speaker has a supply selector, and it is used to swap forwards and backwards between enjoying music wirelessly and plugging in an aux cable for a direct hyperlink. I am unsure it is necessary, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a pleasant contact that pays homage to a full-measurement amplifier’s settings panel. Marshall says the Stockwell can last as long as 25 hours earlier than needing to recharge, and whereas my listening periods did not run fairly that lengthy, I did discover I wasn’t reaching for an influence twine fairly often.
How does it sound? Properly, let’s simply say I used to be much more impressed by the Stockwell’s design than its audio high quality. Whereas it is considerably higher than the likes of the Jawbone Massive Jambox, it lacks the nicely-rounded sound that audio system just like the Beats Capsule XL (now discontinued) and UE Megaboom supply. To me, the audio is barely muffled and solely will get worse in case you crank up that bass dial. The readability that different wi-fi audio system, like Sony’s SRS-X77, supply simply is not there on the Stockwell.
I loved the most effective audio once I left each the bass and treble knobs at 5 (out of 10, natch). In reality, probably the most snug quantity degree is about 5 to seven as properly. Crank the Stockwell as much as 10 when you dare, however the speaker will get ear-piercingly loud. At greater volumes, audio begins to distort as nicely, so you will discover some undesirable crunch within the guitars on The Lifeless Climate’s new album. The sound did not enhance once I employed the three.5mm aux jack, both. When testing the speaker with songs from totally different genres, I discovered that the Stockwell dealt with bluegrass and indie rock one of the best. Should you’re wanting to make use of this to bump a variety of hip-hop, EDM, metallic or anything with a driving bassline, you are not going to get the thump you are hoping for.
To maintain the speaker protected in a bag, there’s an elective flip cowl. It’s going to set you again an additional $forty if bought individually, however I truly discovered it to be fairly helpful. The duvet additionally employs some design cues that ought to resonate with guitar hobbyists, together with its pink felt underside. For me, that gentle materials recollects the within of a guitar case, whereas the surface is identical black, scaly materials that amps and speaker cupboards are sometimes coated with. The add-on can be used as a stand of types, folding down beneath so the speaker can sit angled upward to raised challenge its sound. Image these iPad flip covers and you will get an concept for what is going on on right here.
At $229 (or $259 in case you go for the speaker/cowl combo), the Stockwell is priced in the identical vary as our favourite Bluetooth audio system. The UE Megaboom prices $300, so that you’d anticipate a costlier providing to supply higher audio high quality. And the Beats Capsule XL was discontinued, sadly. At that larger worth, you possibly can (and will) go for the Sony SRS-X77 I lately examined, largely as a result of it provides each WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. Marshall additionally has a $300 choice, the Kilburn, that is bigger than the Stockwell. It is nonetheless moveable, although, promising 20 hours of playback and bearing the identical design particulars that all the firm’s audio merchandise so tempting.
When you’re actually into Marshall’s guitar gear, the Stockwell might be arduous to withstand. It is also probably the most reasonably priced choice for getting your palms on a transportable speaker with this iconic design. The corporate nailed all of these particulars, bringing design touches that any six-string hobbyist will recognize. Nevertheless, likelihood is when you’re acquainted with the model, you additionally take pleasure in excessive-high quality sound, which you will have to seek out elsewhere. Whereas the Stockwell flaunts a design that’ll impress some, the viewers Marshall is trying to woo might be disenchanted by the much less-than-stellar audio high quality.