The Bluetooth speaker market is now flooded with many different providers, each of which offers a wide range of products. It is easy to lose track, especially as a layman. However, one manufacturer that has always stood out from the crowd, both visually and in terms of sound, is Marshall. The company, which opened its first store in London in 1962, was celebrated for many decades for its outstandingly good guitar and bass amplifiers. All the more surprised when the British manufacturer set out for new shores and also wanted to launch promising products in the field of hi-fi technology. Here the company cooperates with the Swedish company Zound Industries.
In addition to high-quality Bluetooth headphones, it was above all the speakers that quickly enjoyed a large fan base. This was not least due to the pretty old-school look, which is reminiscent of a miniature guitar amplifier. The traditional brand wants to take its successful speaker range into the next generation in 2022 with the Marshall Acton III, among others. Was the long wait worth it and should owners of the predecessor switch to the latest version? You can find out in our detailed Marshall Acton III review.
|Frequency range||45-20,000 Hz|
|Adjustable bass and treble control||Tune your music to your preferences with your speaker’s analog controls|
|Maximum sound pressure level||95 dB @ 1 m|
|Enclosure system||Bass reflex|
|Amplifier||A 30-watt class D amplifier for the bass speaker. Two 15-watt class D amplifiers for the tweeters|
|Power||Input voltage 100-240 V|
|Power consumption in network standby mode||No|
|Net frequency||50-60 Hz|
|Connectivity||3.5mm jack connector, Bluetooth 5.2|
|Control||Controls on the top of the speaker and via smartphone in the Marshall app|
|Dimensions and weight||260 x 170 x 150 mm, 2.85 kg|
|Colors||Black, Cream, Brown|
|Price||€ 250.00 *|
Marshall Acton III review: differences from its predecessor
- Only minor changes from the Marshall Acton II
- Bluetooth 5.0 becomes Bluetooth 5.2
- New driver and different speaker orientation
It’s been three years since the second generation Marshall Acton went on sale. Since then, a lot has changed technically. In view of the product update, the question now naturally arises as to what differentiates the third generation from its predecessor in the first place. After all, the Acton II experiences a significant price drop with the release of the successor and now costs only 199.00 euros and thus significantly less than the Acton III. Is the additional cost of 70 euros worth it, or can one simply reach for the predecessor?
What is certain is that despite the almost identical appearance under the hood a lot has happened. Among other things, Marshall has revised the drivers of its speaker. This is supposed to provide an even higher-resolution sound and be a boon to the ears. On top of that, the traditional British company has slightly changed the position of its speakers under the cover. These now tilt outwards and are supposed to create a more direct sound image and a wider sound stage.
Last but not least, the three-year difference can also be read in terms of connectivity. While the Acton II was still controlled with Bluetooth 5.0, the third generation offers the current standard in the form of Bluetooth 5.2. According to Marshall, the Bluetooth range is still ten meters, but now the quality of wirelessly transmitted music is supposed to have improved significantly. How well the Acton III sounds when transferring music from a smartphone, we clarify below in the sound test.
Marshall Acton III test: optics and processing
- classic guitar amp look
- high-quality workmanship
- 3x knobs, on/off switch, play/pause button, source button and 3.5mm jack connector
- Play/Pause button with advanced function
In terms of appearance and workmanship, the Marshall Acton III, like its predecessors, is beyond reproach. Of course, you can accuse the manufacturer of not showing the courage to make visual changes. However, this raises the question of why this should be done. Since the first guitar amplifier from the British company went on sale in 1962, Marshall products were instantly recognizable. This has not changed 60 years later.
So it is not surprising that the design has changed only marginally compared to the second generation. For one thing, Marshall has removed the small metal strip, which in the predecessor still pointed to the company’s roots with the words “Est. 1962”. However, a much narrower bar, which does without the engraving, now provides a noble face.
A look at the top side will also look familiar to connoisseurs. After all, you’ll find the extensive consortium of buttons and knobs here as well. Bass, Treble and Volume can be used to adjust the current music playback. As usual, the source can be changed from AUX to Bluetooth and vice versa via the Source button. A cool upgrade is the expansion of the play/pause button. Here you can now also jump to the next or previous track by a quick tap.
A feast for vintage fans
- Use of recycled PVC and silicone in leather look
- Compact design measuring 260 x 170 x 150 mm
On the back there are then also no big surprises. In addition to the bass reflex port, you will find here actually only the input for the power plug. In terms of design, it can be noted that Marshall does it like a cobbler and sticks to his last. If you like the classic look of Marshall amplifiers, the Marshall Acton III will be a piece of technology that you like to present on a sideboard or showcase.
Given its compact dimensions of just 260 x 170 x 150 mm, it also doesn’t really take up much space and can be used in many places in the home. Not only in terms of looks, but also in terms of workmanship, the Brits deliver their usual high quality here. It is a real treat to look at and touch the combination of high-quality recycled plastic and silicone in a pretty leather look.
Marshall Acton III test: operation with matching app
Of course, you can operate the Marshall Acton III exclusively with the available buttons and knobs on the top. However, you get the most out of the speaker if you download the matching Marshall app.
In the application, which is available for Android and iOS, you can also make various settings for sound and source in the third generation of the Acton. Probably the most significant plus of the app, however, is that your Marshall Acton III always remains up to date thanks to regular firmware updates.
Marshall Acton III review: great mids, average highs
- good bass and terrific mids, but “only” satisfactory highs
- perfect speaker for the genre rock
Since the very few of you will put the Marshall Acton III in your own four walls as a mere design element, the sound quality is of course the most important thing. First of all, let’s start with the pure volume that the Acton III is capable of. Since the predecessor was already capable of turning into a real roaring cube with a very high volume despite its rather compact dimensions, it is hardly surprising that the third generation can also turn up the volume properly. You can easily have a small living room party here.
On top of that, you can feel or hear again that Marshall wants to refer to old virtues with its speakers. Thus, once again rich bass and terrific mids ensure that you have a lot of fun, especially with music with a high proportion of electronically amplified guitars. Thanks to the updated drivers, something has also changed in the treble. The speaker now copes better with vocal passages and classical music. In particular, high female voices are reproduced better. However, Marshall does not become the “treble world champion” even with the Acton III. Here, some competitors are simply superior.
Loss of quality at high volume
As mentioned earlier, the Marshall can really turn up the volume. However, one should be aware that in higher volume regions, the playback quality also suffers. Especially in the upper third, you can definitely notice a few sound problems outside of the rock genre. However, this should only bother those who have a preference for loud music on the one hand, and are fond of treble-heavy genres like classical music and jazz on the other.
Overall, Marshall has succeeded in creating a wider soundstage with the revised driver and speaker realignment. I really like this somewhat new soundstage. However, as is often the case in life, sound quality is always subjective. Accordingly, it is also the Marshall Acton III: Listen to the test yourself!
Marshall Acton III Test: Usual high ease of use
- Many settings directly on the device possible
- Music source either wirelessly (Bluetooth 5.2) or via 3.5 mm jack connector
- No Wifi, no integrated battery
Even though the Marshall Acton III exudes tremendous vintage charm, there is also a lot of modern technology behind the classic garb. Bluetooth in particular ensures that you can play your favorite music via the usual suspects like Spotify and Amazon Prime Music here, too. Of course, you can also access your personal music database from other streaming providers. The wireless connection via Bluetooth 5.2 is not only easy, but also fast in practice. Simply press and hold the play/pause button and the speaker enters pairing mode.
Now you just have to connect your source device to the Acton III. If you like it classic or want to connect an old music source like a record player, you can use the AUX input, which offers space for 3.5 mm jack cables. Two things that would provide more user comfort have not changed with the Marshall Acton III. Once again, the speaker does not have any Wi-Fi features. That is a bit of a pity, because features like “Spotify Connect” meanwhile provide maximum ease of use. Multiroom features would also be possible with it.
But perhaps the traditional British company is saving this for the next generation. What is also missing is an integrated battery. Given the compact size, it would not be a problem to carry the Acton III from A to B depending on the desired work area. However, since there’s no battery inside, you’ll have to rely on a power outlet. If these two points don’t bother you, though, you’ll have plenty of fun with the Marshall Acton III.
Marshall Acton III review: conclusion
Marshall does not reinvent the wheel with the Marshall Acton III either, and instead performs small but meaningful improvements compared to its predecessor. On the rocking sound of the speaker, you can still clearly recognize the signature of the British with a clear focus on the mids. However, those who attach great importance to crisp trebles should first listen to the test. Thanks to the revised drivers and the new alignment of the speakers, you get a pleasingly wide sound stage. Bluetooth 5.2 ensures fast, wireless connection of music sources and high-resolution music transmission.
All in all, the Marshall Acton III has become a really good speaker that will make rock fans happy who can do without WiFi and an integrated battery. However, those who already own an Acton II do not necessarily have to buy the latest generation. The improvements are too marginal for that. Those who cannot decide should always keep an eye on models from other manufacturers. For example, the Klipsch Heritage Groove (test) is very similar to the Marshall speaker. If you’re looking for a value-for-money speaker on the go, the Soundcore Motion Boom Plus (review) is worth a look!