Anyone who has even considered the idea of getting involved in music has surely heard of Marshall.
Marshall has become synonymous with musical equipment, public performances, and higher-end audio equipment – though is a relative unknown in the world of portable speakers. Well, they were until they came out with the competitively priced Marshall Emberton.
The Emberton is a lower-end speaker with good battery life and audio projection that feels like it should be coming from a much larger device. With the recent release of Marshall’s upgraded Emberton 2, we decided to take a second glance at exactly how these two products stack up next to each other.
Is the Emberton 2 worth the additional cost, or can you catch the discount with the cheaper, older model?
To answer the question in the introduction as vaguely as possible, it depends.
While the Emberton does have a lot of improvements like a doubled battery life – things like sound quality are just barely improved when compared. If you are okay with an additional fifty dollars going into a better-designed, slightly upgraded model, we would Comfortably Recommend the Emberton 2.
We put two different color schemes for the sake of making the two speakers visually different, though they can also be the exact same design. Outside of the materials used on the exterior, both products are roughly identical.
The Emberton 1 is a solid product that is likely to be available at a considerable discount due to the release of the upgraded Emberton 2. Because of this, if you catch it on sale you can skitter away with a very competent device for a hair under 120. Outside of the very appetizing price cut, the Emberton is inferior to its newer sibling in every conceivable way – even if some categories are almost negligible.
The Emberton 1 is not a bad product, it simply feels like one that is quickly becoming obsolete. For this reason and the obvious improvements made in the newer model, we would recommend chewing down on the additional price and going with a more resilient, longer-lasting Marshall device.
The Emberton 2 is a better product than the Emberton 1, which has been covered to death in this article. With that said, both offer an abysmal volume output with heavy static and unclear bass at higher volumes. If you are looking for a portable speaker to offer booming music to accompany your next apartment crawl – the Emberton 2 is not the speaker for house parties.
If you can get past the feeble volume output and compression, however, there’s a good budget speaker underneath the rocky dynamics. The battery (22 hours reliably) is nothing short of remarkable for the size of the speaker. It is as durable as any product you can find on the market and offers improved dust resistance that its predecessor did not. All of this is offered for an MSRP under $170.
Because of the reasons listed, we would recommend the Emberton 2 to those looking for a personal speaker that doesn’t break the bank and will be used at lower volumes.
Both devices almost have good sound quality, though they hold themselves back with pretty bad volume and poor audio clarity at max volume.
While we typically only compare these devices against each other – it should be said that both offer very little when it comes to booming audio and will not satisfy those looking for triple-digit decibels. Thankfully, this is aided by an excellent soundstage and competent audio quality that save the Marshall sibling’s otherwise mediocre sound.
The Emberton 1 as we have previously discussed has a limited amount of decibels to work with and when turned to eleven your music will become difficult to clearly hear. It should be said though that if you plan to use this in small spaces or in quiet environments, the speaker offers incredible audio projection that permeates all immediate open space in a very pleasant way.
The audio quality is about what you would expect from a middle-of-the-road speaker. The bass feels characteristically underrepresented which is typical of smaller devices though strings and vocals come across quite well. It offers a frequency response of 60 Hz – 20 kHz and can play audio in stereo.
The Emberton 2 is a notable improvement on its predecessor even if sometimes it can be hard to detect any genuine upgrades. The soundstage feels slightly improved – though if we weren’t looking for upgrades it would largely go unnoticed. As far as the volume, it is marginally better though still noticeably bad. Considering the audio quality, it was hard to discern a difference between the two.
The Emberton 2 excels in the places its older sibling did and falls victim to the same pitfalls as well. The frequency range is 60 Hz – 20 kHz which feels about right as we couldn’t notice any real difference in quality when it came to the lower bass or the mids and highs. It also plays in stereo and while technically better, it doesn’t offer enough improvements in sound to justify a notably higher cost.
Verdict – Emberton 2 slimly beats its previous iteration even if it hasn’t addressed its poor volume capabilities.
Design & Durability
Both speakers have a very similar design with minor changes, so visually it comes down more to your own taste than anything else.
With that said, durability is a different story. The Emberton 2 has made a few key improvements that help push it above its predecessor which we will discuss below.
Typically when looking at design we also want to make sure that the product is easy to transport and not going to weigh down the customer. This is an afterthought for these two Marshall models which both weigh under two pounds and don’t extend past six inches.
Both devices are about 1.5 pounds overall and measure out to 2.68 x 6.30 x 2.99 inches. If you are worried about portable speakers being too hefty and spacious to be worthwhile – your concerns are unfounded for these Emberton speakers.
The Emberton 1 has one of the best designs we have seen from a visual standpoint – it’s a stunning piece of technology with four beautiful alternative color schemes. It comes with an IP7 waterproof rating though lacks any protection against dust and debris. It has a silicone shell that feels pleasant to the touch and stops just before the metallic grille. The control knob is efficient and minimal which allows the speaker’s appealing design to pop without having to suffer an overbearing topside menu.
The Emberton 2 has all the visual appeal of its predecessor with an improved focus on resilience against the elements. The Emberton 2 comes with an IP67 rating protecting it from water and dust fairly effectively, just don’t try to drown the thing for more than thirty minutes. Its outer casing feels a bit sturdier than the first generation though still well-made. The second generation only comes in two different color schemes, which may expand as it spends more time on the market.
Verdict – The Emberton 2 offers more durability and dust resistance though the Emberton 1 has more color schemes to offer.
Considering that both of these products come in under two pounds and two hundred dollars, their battery lives are excellent and worthy of praise. Despite this, the Emberton 2nd generation decided to really prove itself battery superiority and it shines when we start looking at its charge life.
Battery lives are dependent on several factors that include volume, LEDs, and additional features and will vary from person to person.
The Emberton first generation has a listed battery life of twenty hours, though depending on how loudly you listen this can sit closer to about nine overall. It is boasted to have five hours of battery life with twenty minutes of charge time though we have not tested this to verify for ourselves. A full charge will take closer to three hours in total and without music playing the speaker will shut itself off after fifteen minutes.
Looking at the improved Emberton 2, the battery really starts to show why the newer generation can put itself at a higher price tag. It is marketed to last around thirty hours at best, though closer inspections put this to be around 22 hours for the average listener. That being said, 22 hours of playback on a 5-hour charge is absolutely insane on such a small product. Like the previous generation, it shuts itself off after a period of inactivity.
Verdict – The Emberton 2 has one of the best battery lives you will ever see from such a small product.
Features & Software
Typically when products are on the lower end of the financial spectrum like these two you get less when it comes to superfluous add-ons. Because of this, it can feel like consumers got swindled out of some of the shinier bells and whistles that come equipped with higher-end products. The truth is outside of a few notable examples, most features offered by other speakers do little to improve the product.
The biggest difference between these two Marshall speakers is that the original Emberton does not work with the corresponding Marshall BlueTooth app. This not only removes any ability to adjust the audio via EQ presets but takes away any chance of connecting multiple speakers together. It comes with Bluetooth 5.0 with up to 30 feet and an easy pairing Bluetooth button, a control knob, and a battery indicator, though the device seems to emphasize simplicity.
The Emberton 2 definitely outfitted itself with more than enough to comfortably lap the older Emberton 1. On top of a corresponding app that opens up multispeaker compatibility, you get equalizer presets and software updates. This product bumped up to Bluetooth 5.1 with 30 feet of range and a pairing button. On the device, you are offered an easy-to-use control knob as well as a battery indicating LED on top of the product.
It should be said that the Marshall app has a pretty shoddy reputation with 1.7 and 2.6 ratings on Google Play and Apple. Even for the horrific standards that portable speaker apps have, this is pretty abysmal. Because of this, it may be good to try and keep relying on the Marshall app to a minimum, as many consumers can’t seem to get it to work.
Verdict – The Emberton 2 comfortably beats the previous model with an app, EQ presets, and Stack mode which allows you to pair multiple speakers.
Audio Versatility and Pairing with Other Devices
One crucial aspect that readers might want to consider is the audio versatility and the ability of these speakers to pair with other devices. The Marshall Emberton speakers, though compact in size, can provide substantial sound projection that works incredibly well in different environments. They might not give you a thumping bass, but their overall sound distribution and balance are commendable for their price point.
The original Emberton, for instance, can stand its ground well as a solitary speaker for intimate listening experiences. Think of it as your personal companion for those times you want to relax with some calming music in your room or need a small speaker to accompany your travel. However, it is essential to note that the original Emberton lacks multi-speaker pairing capabilities, which can limit its potential in a large gathering or party setup.
On the other hand, the Emberton 2 demonstrates a significant leap in this regard. The Emberton 2, which comes with a corresponding Marshall Bluetooth app, now allows multi-speaker compatibility. This means you can connect multiple Emberton 2 speakers and create a more immersive and broader sound experience, ideal for larger spaces or outdoor parties. Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that the effectiveness of this feature can depend heavily on the reliability of the Marshall app, which, as we’ve discussed, leaves a bit to be desired at the moment.
A common consideration among users when purchasing tech products, including speakers, is the price-performance ratio. How much value does a product offer for its price? If you’re on a budget, it’s a question worth asking.
With the original Emberton available at a considerable discount following the release of the Emberton 2, it makes for a compelling budget choice. It’s a solid product that offers reasonable audio performance, durability, and design for its price point. It may lack the ‘smarts’ and advanced features of its newer sibling, but if you’re looking for a budget-friendly, small speaker with good sound projection and adequate battery life, it’s certainly a worthwhile consideration.
The Emberton 2, however, packs in several upgrades like an improved battery life, dust resistance, and software enhancements including app compatibility, equalizer presets, and multi-speaker pairing. If you’re willing to invest a bit more, the Emberton 2 can offer significant value for your money. Despite some of the reservations we have about the app, its extended feature set justifies the extra investment for those who are seeking a more robust and future-proof speaker.
While the first-generation Marshall product is going to keep more cash in your wallet, the Emberton 2 is simply too big of an upgrade to pass on. With the addition of an app, doubled battery life, improved durability, and more customization when it comes to features – the fifty-dollar upcharge feels like a small price to pay.
While there are several portable speakers that blow these out of the water, few offer as much for so little. Alternative brands like Sony, JBL, UE, Bose, and Anker can make it hard for someone to settle on a Marshall product due to the overwhelming amount of choice.
Despite this, you would be hard-pressed to find other products in the same neighborhood that can offer the battery life and durability that the Emberton 2 can!
Does the Emberton 2 come with an Aux input?
Unfortunately, both the Emberton and the Emberton 2 are purely Bluetooth speakers and do not feature an Aux input.
Can the Emberton 2 connect to multiple devices at the same time?
The Emberton 2, similar to its predecessor, can only connect to one device at a time.
How does the sound quality of the Emberton speakers compare to competitors like JBL or Sony?
While the sound quality is subjective, generally, the Emberton speakers provide a balanced soundstage that excels in vocal clarity. However, if you prioritize bass or high volume levels, other brands like JBL or Sony might be a better fit. Note also that the Emberton is a smaller speaker that emphasizes portability over maximum volume and bass output.
Is the Emberton 2 fully waterproof?
The Emberton 2 has an IP67 rating, which means it’s dustproof and can be submerged in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. However, prolonged exposure to water isn’t recommended.
Can the Marshall app be used with the original Emberton?
No, the original Emberton does not have app compatibility. This feature is only available with the Emberton 2.