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Summertime may be coming to an end, but listening to music outdoors is, luckily, an all-year-long kind of activity. And even though there are no shortage of wireless speakers to choose from out there, not all of them perform well once you put them outside. This summer, we spent some time inside, in the water and, most importantly, around the grill, with Marshall’s newest portable Emberton speaker.
Here’s how the mini Bluetooth speaker performed over weeks of testing, along with how its battery life and host of features compare to other Bluetooth speakers on the market right now.
It’s Small, But It Has a Pretty Mighty Runtime
The Emberton weighs in at just 24.6 ounces. But its small size is hardly any indication of its big battery life. Marshall claims the speaker can play music for up to 20 hours when it’s fully charged. We haven’t played it straight through for that many hours, but we have found that we’ve only had to plug it in a handful of times. This is in line with the brand’s other newer portable speaker, the Stockwell II, but that speaker is slightly heavier and larger in size.
You only have to plug it in for about three hours to get the 20-hour total charge, or 20 minutes for five hours of juice. We especially like how easy it is to see about how much battery power it has left, thanks to a light next to the power button on top of the speaker.
Bluetooth Speaker Battery Life: Marshall Emberton vs. Sonos Roam
If you’re curious how the Emberton’s battery life compares to other similar Bluetooth units, the excellent, weatherproof Sonos Roam, for instance, is around the same size and weight, and has a 10-hour battery life per charge. It also retails for about the same price at $169.
Meantime, another pool-ready speaker, the waterproof Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2, one of the best durable speakers you can use outdoors, can last for about 13 hours, and clocks in at just shy of $100 on Amazon.
It’s Totally High-Tech (But Looks Like It’s From a Vintage Music Shop)
On top of being a great-sounding speaker, the Emberton happens to also be one of the most stylish portable units we’ve tested. It’s one of the few speakers, along with, say, a pair of Sonos speakers, that doesn’t look out of place sitting next to our vinyl collection in the living room, or sandwiched between plates and a bottle of wine on an outdoor table.
Each model in Marshall’s line of speakers features the iconic Marshall logo and is wrapped in a smooth, stylish, leather-like shell, making each one a standout gadget from other Bluetooth speakers you can buy online.
The Emberton looks like a speaker you might find at a dust-covered vintage store while trying to pick out an amp, and its vintage look is exactly why it’s so cool, modern and refreshing. It doesn’t change things up too much compared to Marshall’s other wireless speakers.
Keep in mind though that the Emberton’s sleek design means it doesn’t come with the type of amp-like volume, bass and treble knobs that models like the Stanmore II or Stockwell II have. It’s not quite as fun to use the Emberton as the original Stockwell at first, but the lack of knobs actually makes it slightly more portable in the process.
The top of the speaker has a Bluetooth pairing button, along with one center control knob for powering on and off, changing the song and adjusting the volume.
It’s Fine, You Can Drop It in the Pool
The Emberton may not be a high-end speaker system, but it’s likely a hell of a lot more rugged than your premium audio setup.
In fact, you can actually submerge the speaker in water, and it’ll still perform. According to the brand, with its IPX7 rating, it can withstand being in three feet of water for a half hour, so you don’t have to worry about it floating around in the pool or if a wave suddenly washed it away from your spot at the beach.
And if you do plan to take it with you to the beach, you can easily rinse off any sand that got into the speaker’s grille once you’re home.
We put it to the test, throwing it in a tiny pool that we had set up for our dog over the course of a few minutes. Luckily, nothing happened at all. The speaker’s performance never changed, though we couldn’t hear it as well when it was in the water. Dripping wet, it still sounded exactly the same as it did before we took it for a brief swim.
It’s Loud Enough for the Beach — or to Fill Your Entire House
Part of what makes the Emberton actually worth considering is how good music sounds, no matter where you’re at. The speaker delivers 360-degree sound, so you could be sitting on either side of a table or stick it on a coffee table and enjoy the same quality of tunes wherever you move.
Marshall loaded the Emberton with a couple two-inch full-range drivers, and it can reach 87 decibels. To try to put that into context, we can play music at the front of our house on full blast, walk back into our house, shut the door and hear it all the way inside — all while controlling the volume levels right from our phone.
Turned up as high as it could go, the bass on songs like Men I Trust’s “Sugar” sounded like it was about to break through the speaker’s compact frame.
When listening to the Emberton indoors vs. our Sonos One smart speaker, songs like Joni Mitchell’s “Help Me” sounded warm, if slightly bass-heavy, which is something I’ve personally heard when listening with other Marshall speakers I’ve previously tested.
Is the Marshall Emberton Speaker Worth Your Money?
If you’re searching for a great-sounding, long-lasting Bluetooth speaker on a budget, you won’t have any buyer’s remorse after scooping up the Emberton. The bottom line is that it’s one of our favorite compact, portable speakers under $150 for playing music inside and out, all year long.