Anyone who has ever had a remote interest in music knows the name Marshall quite well. In that same vein, JBL has become synonymous with quality products after repeated releases of well-made speakers, earbuds, and headphones.
The eventual overlap feels inevitable, and this article will go into detail about which company offers the better portable speaker when looking at the Marshall Emberton versus the Flip 6.
This comparison will take a look at the overall audio quality, the speaker’s design, and durability, their individual battery life as well as charge time, and any accompanying features and software included.
When considering the price, they are not separated by a vast chasm of lost dollar bills, though the JBL product sits about forty dollars cheaper.
While my personal opinion is that the Flip 6 is the superior product for the price and what I desire out of a speaker, it is a toss-up whether individual consumers feel the same. For those who want a brief summary of the pros and cons of each product, I will briefly highlight the positives and negatives of each device.
The Marshall Emberton is a solid product with good battery life, great sound stage, and competent sound quality.
Sitting at a slightly sub-$175 MSRP, it is the pricier option of the two speakers. This added cost has almost certainly gone to the battery and impressive omnidirectional sound that makes this product stand out against the Flip 6.
Regrettably, its volume is not as impressive as some would like and its user interface is fairly rudimentary and simplistic. This product is well-designed however and reliably waterproof.
The JBL Flip 6 is the superior product in my opinion, though depending on what you are looking for you could vastly disagree.
It has superior volume, a much more complete list of features, better dust resistance and feels like a better speaker in terms of design. It also sits a good bit cheaper at a sub-$130 MSRP, though it is not a perfect product either.
It lacks the soundstage of the Marshall speaker and has a worse battery life of 12 hours per charge. With that said, if I had to pick one product over the other, it would be the Flip 6.
This is going to be an interesting look into what happens when a company that specializes in amplifiers and PA systems goes head to head with a brand better known for its mobile products and headphones.
Despite my initial prediction, I was surprised to find that JBL held up very well when compared to Marshall’s more expensive product.
The Marshall Emberton speaker seems to put emphasis on all the places that the Flip 6 fell short in and vice-versa.
When looking at the frequency response I couldn’t gauge a clear winner of the two, though the lack of an equalizer from the Emberton does set it back.
The Emberton does deserve a certain amount of credit for its audio directivity which creates a very full soundstage, unquestionably superior to its competition. If the product could reach higher volumes and maintain crisp audio at those higher levels, it likely would have won out this category.
The JBL Flip 6 offers a louder volume in comparison to the Emberton but those pesky chunks of poor audio are still there when you push it to 11.
Its audio projects a much more narrow directivity than its competitor, though the sound quality does feel equal when looking at its frequency response. What holds the Flip 6 back from taking this category is the superior audio projection of the Emberton that feels omnidirectional when compared to the JBL product.
Verdict – Draw, if you want higher volume go with the Flip 6. If you are concerned with the audio reaching every corner of its surroundings, then the Marshall product is superior.
Design & Durability
Both of these products are aesthetically gorgeous to my eye, though this category has to factor in more than just looks.
The material used in both products comes into play, and the resistance to dust and water is very important as well. Finally, we have to consider how cumbersome these products will be to lug around since they are designed to be portable products.
The Emberton is a clever take on Marshall’s amplifiers, looking like a bite-sized guitar amp. Like most of Marshall’s catalog of products, the material feels good to the touch and the product’s overall design feels simple yet expensive.
The resistance of this product hits IP7 ratings which make it comfortably waterproof though it may be susceptible to dust over time. It fits the mold of its marketing as a very lightweight, portable product sitting, under two pounds and measuring out to 2.99 x 6.3 x 2.68 inches.
The material they use is exceptional and instrumental in its IP67 rating, keeping it mostly safe from water and easily resilient to dust. Aesthetically the product is futuristic looking and the rubber-protected passive radiators on both ends of the Flip 6 only add to its luxurious exterior.
While the two are both well-designed, the Flip 6 has a more intelligent, trendy design and slightly better resistance to the elements, in my opinion. The dimensions of the two products are very close, with the Flip 6 weighing in at just over a pound and measuring out to 7 x 2.6 x 2.8 inches.
Verdict – The Flip 6 is the better-designed product, though both are well-made. Durability-wise, both should remain unharmed by water though the Emberton is more vulnerable to dust and pollen.
Something that often gets overlooked with these portable products is how long they will remain playing before their charge is up. Outside of pure audio quality, I struggle to think of a more important factor in a portable speaker than their ability to remain playing for hours at a time.
Thankfully for any potential consumers, both products offer impressive battery lives that should last well into the night.
The listed specifications were taken straight from the manufacturer. The volume level will affect the battery more severely at higher levels, so personal use may differ.
The Emberton is shockingly long-lasting when looking at its battery life. Blame it on the fact that the only Marshall products I own have to be plugged in, but I did not expect this company to put so much effort into their battery life.
The Emberton has a battery life that is reported to be up to 20 hours per full charge. It will take about three hours for a full charge and the Emberton has an auto shut off feature after fifteen minutes to conserve juice. Marshall claims that this product can get five hours of playback after a twenty-minute charge, though I have not personally tested this to see if it is an honest sentiment or ambitious marketing.
The Flip 6 is no slouch when it comes to its battery, either. JBL lists its battery life as twelve hours, though it does offer the ability to play while it charges. The charge time will take a bit over two hours which feels fair considering it doesn’t last as long as its competitor. Like the Emberton, the Flip 6 comes with a power-saving option that auto shuts off the device after twenty minutes of inactivity.
Verdict – The Emberton comfortably wins in this category with a far superior battery. The Flip 6 offering playback while charging is a nice consolation, however.
Features & Software
Whether we like to admit it or not, we all get a little too excited when it comes to the superfluous parts of a speaker.
It could be the LED customization that an app offers or even the different EQ options you can switch to on the fly. To give you a better idea of which product offers more outside of the realm of audio, let’s take a look at the features and (lack of) software for these devices.
The Emberton lacks any mobile software or applications to use in conjunction with it. For those of us who despise these clunky apps that could be a good thing, but it feels like a missed opportunity in this category.
It has Bluetooth (5.0) compatibility, an LED battery life indicator, a USB-C port, and a multi-directional knob on the top to control volume, tracks, and play/pause.
In all sincerity, it’s a fairly simple product that has clearly put more emphasis on the audio quality and battery than unnecessary flare. I don’t think this is a bad thing, but when you are judging it on its features, it does fall short.
The Flip 6 offers a bit more when looking at its customization and accessory options.
Unlike the Marshall speaker, it does offer an app that is passably made, which is high praise considering the quality of speaker applications. Thankfully, all of its features feel like thoughtful additions and not the gimmicky afterthoughts that we sometimes see in the audio world.
Verdict – Flip 6 has more features that feel focused and the addition of an app is going to be a deciding factor for a small minority of consumers.
At the risk of sounding unnecessarily diplomatic, you would be lucky to get your hands on either of these well-made products.
Speaking plainly, however, the lower price, higher volume, and more complete list of features make me think that the Flip 6 is the better purchase for most consumers.
The Emberton does offer an incredible soundstage, great battery life, and a simplistic interface, so personal preference does play a role.
I would happily recommend both products to someone looking in their general (sub-$175) price range.