Swedish company Zound Industries has just announced another record year with a 44% increase in sales, sales of SEK 3 billion and a double-digit profitability of 10.3%. This exceptional achievement is largely due to the company’s phenomenally successful range of wireless Marshall speakers and headphones.
Since Zound Industries licensed the Marshall brand of speakers and headphones from the legendary guitar amp maker, it has captured the imagination of younger consumers by producing a range of speakers and headphones with attitude.
The latest product from Marshall Headphones is the superb wireless Middleton speaker. Just over twice the size of the Marshall Emberton, this new model features four separate speaker drivers, each powered by its own Class D amplifier. Two of the speakers are woofers, covering the bass and mid-range frequencies, with each speaker running at 20W of power. In addition, the Middleton has two tweeters; each backed with 10W of Class D amplification to create a wide and focused stereo soundstage.
Like all Marshall wireless speakers, the Middleton is encased in a rugged, rubberized enclosure made from a material similar to that used to construct Marshall guitar amp enclosures. The build quality is exceptional and the overall feel is indestructible. The classic Marshall logo in raised gold is on the front of the speaker grille.
On top of the Marshall Middleton is the usual large brass knob used on all Marshall speakers. The controller works like a joystick and features a surface of knurled, concentric rings that provide a firm grip for a fingertip. The button acts as a power button, volume control, and control for the music, allowing the user to skip, repeat, pause, and play tracks.
To the left of this large brass control knob are two small knobs. One puts the speaker into Bluetooth pairing mode, while the other illuminates the ladder-style LED battery indicator, which is divided into ten red segments. To the right of the brass multifunction knob are two controls for adjusting the bass and treble frequencies so the listener gets exactly the sound they want.
There is a USB Type-C port on the back of the Marshall Middleton for charging the speaker’s internal battery, which can provide up to 20 hours of play time before recharging. The USB port is bi-directional and also serves as a power bank to charge a smartphone with the energy stored in the Middleton’s battery. Next to the USB port is an ‘Aux In’ 3.5mm jack so that analogue devices can be connected to the Middleton.
The four speakers inside the Middleton are equipped with “True Stereophonic” – Marshall’s unique form of multi-directional stereo sound. The effect creates a spatial and binaural sound that envelops the listener and can fill a huge room with music. Marshall claims it offers absolute 360° sound where every point is sweet. This is not an empty claim. The Middleton’s sound is impressive. It has powerful bass and well-focused highs, but the feeling of being surrounded by sound is powerful and the speaker puts out far more volume than its size would suggest.
In addition to the physical bass and treble controls on the top of the speaker cabinet, the middleton can be tweaked using the Marshall smartphone app, available for iOS and Android devices. The app has a built-in Dynamic Loudness feature that adjusts the speaker’s tonal balance to ensure music sounds its best regardless of the volume setting.
This new speaker is rugged enough to go almost anywhere. The case is made from 55% post-consumer recycled plastic and is PVC-free. With an IP67 rating, the Middleton is certified dust and water resistant, ensuring rain, dirt or sand won’t stop the music. At 1.8kg the Middleton isn’t too heavy to carry around easily and a rubberised strap is included so the speaker can be taken anywhere.
The Middleton’s sound is big and bold. The speaker output is directed front and back, left and right from the ends of the cabinet. It gives the impression of surround sound and enough power to fill a medium-sized room. And if the audio isn’t loud enough, triple-pressing the Bluetooth pairing button puts the Middleton into stack mode. Stack mode allows two or more Middleton speakers to play together and create even more noise. It’s a significant effect and the music is kept in sync between each speaker.
Verdict: Marshall Middleton’s new wireless speaker may be Zound Industries’ best model yet. It’s relatively compact and incredibly sturdy. The use of two woofers and two tweeters creates a pleasant and muscular sound that can get any party going. The speaker’s battery life is excellent and the inclusion of tone controls is very welcome. Using more than one middleton in stack mode offers real flexibility and makes the speaker versatile. If you’re looking for a rugged wireless Bluetooth speaker that you can take anywhere, the Marshall Middleton is perfect. As an alternative to the market leader JBL, the Marshall Middleton meets all criteria and then some. Highly recommended.
Prices & Availability: The Marshall Middleton wireless speaker is available now, priced at $299 / £269 / €299.
More info: marshallheadphones.com
- Speakers: 2 x woofers. 2 x tweeters.
- Power amplifier: Class D amplifier: 2 x 20 W, 2 x 10 W.
- Maximum sound pressure level: 87 dB SPL @ 1 m.
- Frequency Response: 50Hz – 20kHz.
- Stereo/Mono: Stereo.
- Charging time: 4.5 hours with 5V, 3A charger.
- Dimensions: 109 x 230 x 95mm / 4.29 x 9.06 x 3.74in
- Weight: 1.8kg