Marshall Stockwell II review: one big fat sound "to go", please
Summer's coming, and it's dragging us all out to the park, the meadow, the city. Of course, the right sound should not be missing, and Marshall Headphones delivers it with its new Bluetooth loudspeaker, the Stockwell II. We have tried it out.
Stockwell II in classic Marshall design
The iconic Marshall lettering on the front of the Stockwell II is unmistakable, sitting on a metal grille you know from microphones. Here it protects the sensitive speakers inside the box. At the top, there are classic knobs for volume, bass and treble, plus a small knob for pairing via Bluetooth. If you like the classic way, you can also use the jack input on the right side. The battery is charged via USB-C. A cable comes with Marshall, but no power supply. The Stockwell II measures 18 x 16.1 x 70 centimetres, weighs 1.38 kilograms and makes a very robust impression. The housing is protected against splash water according to IPX4.
Anyone who knows the other Marshall speakers will soon notice that the Stockwell II has a different surface. No imitation leather or plastic in imitation leather look, but matt, soft rubber wraps around the case. This makes the Stockwell II look a bit less like a Marshall amplifier, but the material matches the outdoor and carry-on character of the loudspeaker and is practical.
Speaking of taking this thing outside, at the sides the Stockwell II there are pegs that musicians will know from guitars. You can either attach the short carrying handle to them, place the Marshall in the box to carry the speaker in your hand, or simply hang a regular guitar strap around your neck. It's a small but clever detail.
Rich sound in all directions
The Stockwell II contains a 10-watt woofer and two 5 watt tweeters. According to the manufacturer, the maximum sound pressure level is 80 db at a distance of one meter, the frequency range is between 60 and 20,000 Hz. The Stockwell II is a stereo speaker.
For such a small box, the Stockwell II moves a lot of air. The sound is full and loud and it has - if you adjust the controls accordingly - amazing bass on offer. Like the other Marshall loudspeakers, the Stockwell II is not equally suitable for all types of music. The sound is quite warm and not quite as neutral as with Bose speakers. The Stockwell II doesn't have its own app, so the settings are limited to the controls for volume, bass and treble. Especially for a portable, uncomplicated loudspeaker, this is perfectly sufficient and much more practical than fiddling with an equalizer on your smartphone.
However, depending on the music you are playing and the quality of the source, you should be cautious about the volume limit. Turning the knob above level 8 can cause the sound to roll over a bit and distort. In principle, this actually sounds quite fitting for a Marshall speaker, but in fact, it's not that pleasant.
One of the most exciting features of the Marshall Stockwell II is the fact that the sound not only radiates to the front, but also to the back. At the back of the Bluetooth loudspeaker, there is a black metal grille, which makes the quasi all-around sound possible. Why "quasi"? Well, there's another difference between sitting behind and in front of the speaker, because the sound from the front is a bit louder and clearer than the one coming out the back. But it's better than just one direction in any case. If this was a Marshall guitar amp, you'd call it an "open-back" design.
A battery with stamina
Marshall promises "20+ hours" of music playback with one battery charge for the Stockwell II. The battery level is indicated by the red LED bar on the top of the loudspeaker. The actual running time depends on several factors, first of all on the average volume at which you play your music on the Stockwell II. If you don't fully turn on the Bluetooth speaker and pay attention to a reasonably good Bluetooth connection, the 20 hours Marshall promises for Stockwell II are quite realistic. Even with Bluetooth headphones, Marshall is very good on battery life, as is the case with its speakers.
Charging is carried out via the USB-C cable supplied. The Stockwell II also serves as a mobile power bank and can power your smartphone on the go. The phone doesn't charge particularly fast from the loudspeaker, but it's still better than it standing there at the end of the day with an empty battery and then not being able to listen to any music, even if the loudspeaker still has power.
How much is the Marshal Stockwell II?
The Marshall Stockwell II costs $250 - not exactly a small price for such a compact loudspeaker. If you don't like the black color, you can soon also choose the limited edition grey version. If your budget is somewhat larger, the other two new models the Kilburn II for $250 and Tufton for $400 could also be interesting. The two larger Marshall speakers are also portable and have a rechargeable battery on board.
The bottom line
The price Marshall is pitching the Stockwell II is not necessarily a bargain. But you not only get a Bluetooth loudspeaker with that timeless Marshall look, but also a rather robust product with an extremely long-lasting battery and, above all, plenty of power. My tip: just wait a little and see if you can buy the Stockwell II for a little less money. If the price falls below $200, you should snap it up.