Mar­shall Woburn II

£439 | $499 www.mar­shall­head­phones.com/ Blue­tooth speaker turns it up all the way to 11

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For a few years now the Mar­shall brand has been branch­ing out and away from its live amp gig gear and stu­dio com­fort zone, and into the home speaker space with its Ac­ton, Stan­more and Woburn speak­ers, and its Mar­shall Ma­jor head­phones. But it’s only now with the Mar­shall Woburn II that the com­pany has re­ally de­liv­ered on the ear-split­ting prom­ise of its hard-rock­ing her­itage.

Big, bold and ‘all-the-way-to-11’ loud, the Mar­shall Woburn II is a great-look­ing speaker that is well equipped for most mu­si­cal styles, and fe­ro­cious when paired with your scuzzier tunes.

Price and avail­abil­ity

The Mar­shall Woburn II is priced at £439 ($499). That’s a sig­nif­i­cant chunk of change – es­pe­cially in the UK where the Pound is par­tic­u­larly weak – and it’s also ex­pen­sive when you con­sider that the speaker lacks vir­tual as­sis­tants such as Google As­sis­tant or Ama­zon Alexa like many ri­val speak­ers do.

What you do get though is that iconic de­sign, and an in­cred­i­bly pow­er­ful speaker – crank this one all the way up and you won’t need sep­a­rate speak­ers for each room; even your neigh­bours down the block will hear it.

De­sign

Ever donned a top hat and played air gui­tar to your favourite Guns ‘N’ Roses song? Or hopped around the liv­ing room in your old school uni­form like An­gus Young? Pick up a Mar­shall Woburn II and com­plete the look – it’s a dead ringer for the brand’s iconic am­pli­fiers.

About as heavy as a solid state prac­tice amp and just as big, the Woburn II is an im­pos­ing sight com­pared to your usual speaker. But that’s not to say it’s unattrac­tive – far from it, with its leather-look cab­i­net and gold ac­cents, raised off the ground on four sturdy feet.

A grey grille-pat­tern fab­ric cov­ers the front speaker ar­ray, adorned with that iconic Mar­shall badge in gold. Along the top you’ll find an in­set con­trol panel, also in gold, which comes with in­de­pen­dent di­als to con­trol vol­ume, bass and tre­ble, plus a small tog­gle lever for power – all in keep­ing with the clas­sic Mar­shall am­pli­fier look.

Also lo­cated on the con­trol panel is a small round Source but­ton, which en­ables you to switch be­tween the Woburn II’s var­i­ous in­put op­tions, plus a sim­i­lar-look­ing Pause/Play but­ton on the other end of the con­trol panel, past the di­als.

If you have an affin­ity for the Mar­shall brand and hard-rock look, you’ll love the Woburn II’s style. But it’s not ex­actly un­der­stated (in any re­spect), so you may want to look else­where if you’re after a speaker whose looks and sound fades in to the back­ground. The Woburn II prac­ti­cally screams to be seen – and heard.

Con­nec­tiv­ity and au­dio op­tions

The Woburn II makes use of Blue­tooth 5.0, which gave it solid con­nec­tiv­ity to our mo­bile de­vices at all times, with a ten-me­tre range claim good by our es­ti­ma­tions. The Blue­tooth stan­dard used here sup­ports multi-host Blue­tooth, let­ting you con­nect two de­vices at

“If that eardrum-melt­ing out­put isn’t to your tastes, it hard to ar­gue against the Woburn II’s sound”

once, sav­ing squab­bles be­tween friends over who gets to play what.

Other than that, you have Aux In and Aux Out con­nec­tions, plus RCA phono con­nec­tiv­ity if you’re look­ing to make the Woburn II part of a wider hi -fi sys­tem. At this price, it would be good to have seen more smart home fea­tures – multi-room sup­port with the rest of Mar­shall’s multi-room range would have been ap­pre­ci­ated, for in­stance, as would Spo­tify Con­nect or Air­Play 2 func­tion­al­ity.

It may not be to every­one’s taste but as bud­ding gui­tar he­roes, we’d love to see the Mar­shall line of­fer a ded­i­cated gui­tar in­put jack at some point, if the en­gi­neer­ing gods would al­low it. Hav­ing a speaker that looks like this and could also play nicely with your own gui­tar shredding would be fan­tas­tic, and give a truly unique fea­ture to the brand’s Blue­tooth line.

Per­for­mance

What­ever au­dio source you’re hooking up to the Woburn II, one thing’s for cer­tain – this speaker goes in­sanely loud. Mak­ing use of two tweet­ers and dual 5.25-inch sub­woofers, in­di­vid­u­ally pow­ered by class D amps, cranked up to its full 110W out­put power it could even be heard rum­bling out­side of our of­fice’s sound-proofed test room (apolo­gies to any­one who was work­ing nearby…)

But what’s vol­ume with­out de­tail and clar­ity? Thank­fully, even if that eardrum-melt­ing out­put isn’t to your tastes, it’s hard to ar­gue against the Woburn II’s sound. Mak­ing use of a re­vised DSP to main­tain de­tail at even higher vol­umes, the Mar­shall Woburn (like its sta­ble­mates) still ex­cels with rock mu­sic. But it’s sur­pris­ingly po­tent with other styles, too.

The moody dy­nam­ics of Led Zep­pelin’s Dazed And Con­fused saw the speaker to­tally at home, rum­bling through the open­ing bass and gui­tar har­mon­ics be­fore shat­ter­ing that killer Jimmy Page riff. But it could be del­i­cate, too – there was a sweep­ing sense of height and width to the beau­ti­ful Judee Sill song The Kiss, its del­i­cate pi­ano lines and dou­bled vo­cals crisply be­ing de­liv­ered. And, when chal­lenged with some elec­tronic mu­sic, it proved it­self a party starter – MSTRKRFT’s It Aint Love, with its run­away arpeg­gios and robotic bass line, felt like there was a croon­ing Trans­former in the room.

Sum­mary

With a de­sign that makes full use of the brand’s iconic aes­thetic, and a power and clar­ity that other Blue­tooth speak­ers would be hard-pressed to meet, the Mar­shall Woburn II is a great buy, so long as you value vol­ume and style over smart con­nec­tiv­ity op­tions.

This Blue­tooth speaker is ex­pen­sive, though, and you’re ap­proach­ing true au­dio­phile ter­ri­tory with that £439 ($499) price tag. So be­fore slap­ping down your al­bum ad­vance on the Woburn II, con­sider whether or not you’d be bet­ter suited to start­ing a mul­ti­room setup with some­thing like the Sonos Play:5, or an ear-ca­ress­ing au­dio­phile op­tion such as the sim­i­larly stack-like Au­dio Pro Drum­fire. And be sure to fac­tor in the price of a pair of ear de­fend­ers if you’re go­ing to go all the way up to 11.

The Mar­shall Woburn II is a beast of a speaker, with room-shak­ing sound and a rock­ing de­sign.

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