Many manufacturers of portable Bluetooth speakers focus on a sporty design. So what is the best way to stand out from the ever-growing mass of models? Quite simple: You go a different way visually. Marshall has been doing this for a few years now in collaboration with Swedish company Zound Industries. The Marshall Willen is the latest smallest speaker in the series and, with its rocking vintage look, speaks the same design language as its other siblings. But can the small speaker also score in other disciplines like sound, connectivity and user-friendliness? You can read about it in our Marshall Willen review.
|Frequency range||100-20,000 Hz|
|Driver||One 2-inch, 10-watt full-range speaker.
Two passive radiators
|Maximum sound pressure level||82 dB SPL @ 1 m|
|Enclosure system||Sealed with passive radiators|
|Amplifier||A 10-watt class-D amplifier for the driver|
|Compatible App||Marshall Bluetooth App (iOS and Android)|
|Battery||Integrated rechargeable lithium-ion battery with playing time of over 15 hours, fast charging function (20 minutes for 3 hours), complete battery charging time 3 hours|
|Dimensions and weight||101.6 x 100.5 x 40.4 mm, 310 g|
|Water resistance||Protection against water and dust according to IP67 certification|
|Colors||Black/Brass and Cream|
|Control||Multi-directional control knob + Bluetooth button on the device, control by smartphone via app (EQ)|
|Bluetooth||Bluetooth 5.1 with 10 m range|
|Price||€ 99.00 *|
Marshall will test: appearance and workmanship
- Classic vintage look from Marshall
- High build quality
- handy format
Even without the iconic Marshall lettering, you can quickly identify to which speaker series the will belong. This is due in particular to the cool retro design, which is refreshingly different from the competition. At the same time, the Marshall Willen is the most compact speaker in the product range with its handy dimensions of just 101.6 x 100.5 x 40.4 mm and a slender weight of 310 g. Thus, in terms of size, it plays in roughly the same league as the JBL Clip 4.
Like its bigger siblings, the Marshall Willen also has a silicone frame that comes in a classy leather look. Of course, the front-facing hatched grille should not be missing. This ensures that the small Marshall Willen also looks like a mini amplifier. The chic design is rounded off with the iconic Marshall lettering, which comes in a noble brass look.
The multifunction button, which is located in the upper right corner, is also made of brass. On the left, the manufacturer has installed a USB-C port, which can be used to charge the speaker with the help of the included charging cable. A real highlight is found on the back of the small speaker. This is where the Will is equipped with a practical strap. This allows the Marshall Willen to be flexibly attached to different surfaces. In particular, a fixation to the bicycle handlebars is conceivable here.
Protection against dust and water
- Protection against dirt and water according to IP67
- maximum 30 minutes in up to 1 m deep water
The fact that the Marshall Willen is ideally suited for outdoor use is not only evident from its compact dimensions. Because the compact speaker not only fits in any handbag, but is also optimally protected against the harmful penetration of water and dust. For this, the compact speaker has obtained an IP67 certification. This states that the speaker is completely dust and waterproof for a certain period of time.
For example, the Marshall Willen is said to be able to easily last for up to 30 minutes at a depth of up to one meter without suffering any damage. This is especially practical when the small speaker gets a bit of dirt. If there is dirt on the device, it can be easily cleaned under running water. By the way, the exposed USB-C port should not interfere with this. Before you reconnect the Marshall Will to the power supply, however, you should wait for it to dry out again.
Marshall Willen test: technology
- practical battery indicator
- Bluetooth 5.1 with SBC codec
- 2-inch full-range driver
But what actually slumbers under the hood of the little Marshall Willen? Behind the grille, a 10 W Class D amplifier provides the 2-inch full-range driver with sufficient power. This is responsible for the mids and trebles of the compact speaker. On the other hand, two passive radiators are supposed to provide bass depth. Marshall relies on Bluetooth 5.1 with SBC codec support to enable wireless music transmission. Unfortunately, the AptX and AAC codecs are left out.
Without prejudging the sound quality, however, it should be said that you probably wouldn’t hear an integration of AptX and AAC support anyway. After all, the handy speaker only offers mono sound anyway. A practical feature is the possibility to pair several Marshall Wills with each other to get a bit of stereo sound. For this, you just have to press the Bluetooth button several times.
- Practical multifunctional button
- Operation also possible via app
The manufacturer was able to achieve the chic uniform design of the small speaker, among other things, by relying on a button with several functions at once. To turn on the Marshall Will, you just have to hold down the multifunction button. You can then control play and pause with a simple push of a button. You can adjust the volume by sliding the multifunction knob down (softer) or up (louder).
You jump to the previous or next track by sliding the knob to the left or right. This uncomplicated and intuitive control is also known from the Bluetooth headphones of the series, among others. Besides the multifunctional button, there is only the button for pairing via Bluetooth and a microphone button for the speakerphone. You can see how the battery is doing from the practical status LED.
Marshall Will Test: Enduring Battery
- 15+ hours of battery life
- Quick charging (20 minutes of charging for 3 hours of music)
- Three hours charging time for full battery
Really impressive is the battery life, which the manufacturer promises here. According to the manufacturer, the small speaker should namely be able to last just under 15 hours. Sounds like a slightly exaggerated estimate, but corresponds to reality, as my practical test showed. And more. The Marshall Will even lasted almost 16 hours at medium volume. Even larger speakers from the competition can’t keep up here.
The extremely popular JBL Flip 6, for example, lasts just 12 hours. If the battery of the Marshall Will is then once empty, you can quickly recharge it. Thanks to the quick-charge function, just 20 minutes of charging time was enough to arm the battery for another three hours of music enjoyment. Within three hours of battery charging time, the battery is then completely filled again.
Marshall Bluetooth app
The small Marshall Willen also offers support for the in-house Marshall Bluetooth app. This software, available for Android and iOS, brings several advantages with it. For one, you can opt for three different equalizer presets here. You can choose between the three sound modes “Marshall”, “Push” and “Voice”. Marshall is supposed to provide the iconic rock sound, Push wants to put high emphasis on treble and bass, and Voice is meant for higher voice clarity, which is supposed to improve listening to podcasts, for example.
It’s a bit of a shame that there’s no individual mode here, where you can slide the controls back and forth to your liking. Instead, you have to choose one of the three preset modes. However, this is complaining on a high level and not to be expected from such a compact mono speaker. Besides the sound settings, probably the biggest benefit of the Marshall app is the speaker’s up-to-dateness. After all, the app regularly provides the speaker with the latest firmware update. You can also control the stack mode for pairing multiple speakers via the app.
Marshall Will Test: The Sound Quality
- Three different sound modes
- Good bass, very good mids, good highs
Optics and technology are already right with the small speaker. But does the good features also provide a great sound? With great excitement, I have especially expected the push mode. This should bring treble and bass to the fore. Indeed, you get a bit more bass depth here. However, you shouldn’t expect any miracles here in view of the compact size, of course.
On top of that, the extra bass comes at the expense of the mids. The classic Marshall mode sounds more balanced. Especially if you like listening to rock music, you should opt for this one. Ultimately, however, it is a matter of taste which mode you like better. Due to its rather neutral orientation, I used the Marshall mode for the sound test.
First, I used the small speaker for some dance/electronic. Here, the Marshall Willen delivered surprisingly deep bass at medium and high volumes. However, the bass quality decreased as the volume increased. At maximum volume, you can feel that the digital signal processing puts a stop to the strong bass in order to avoid annoying distortions. Occasionally, however, it came to a slight overload of the Marshall Will. Thus, even the case rattled a bit now and then, which naturally resulted in a poorer sound quality. However, this is not surprising in view of the compact size. So you should rather stick to a moderate volume.
Folk and Rock
Moving on, there’s far less bass. I listened through a few singer/songwriters and the folk as well as rock genre. Here, the Marshall Willen felt much more comfortable right away. Lower vocals in particular benefit from the great mids that the little speaker delivers. This makes for a rich and comfortable sound. The small speaker also reproduces guitar sounds very well. No matter if acoustic or electric guitar – here you can simply feel Marshall’s focus on guitar music. Since too deep bass was missing here, you also noticed that even in high volume regions everything was rendered cleanly.
Third, I listened in on a couple of hip hop tracks. Let’s start with the positive here as well. The voice reproduction masters the Marshall Willen also in this genre very well. It reproduced vocals clearly and distinctly. However, the fact that it is a bit weak on the chest could not be hidden in the range of higher volumes. Especially when instrumental trebles are added, the bass fades into the background. With a clear presence of treble, I could also hear the one or other sibilant sounds.
Last but not least, I listened to some classical music. And here I was really positively surprised. You can feel that the absence of bass provides more space for the mids and treble. Thus, despite its compact size, the Marshall Willen shines with a pleasant fullness that can be clearly heard, especially in the lower-mid range. Overall, the sound was pleasingly clear and bright in this genre.
In the test, I wanted to test not only audio playback, but also recording. Finally, the Marshall Willen has an integrated microphone, which turns it into a compact speakerphone. You can’t expect miracles here, but you can still use the small speaker for a voice call from time to time.
Marshall Willen Test: Conclusion
The Marshall Willen is easy to use, sounds good for its size and convinces with the brand-standard vintage design as well as a high build quality. Unfortunately, the small speaker has to contend with some opponents in its price range that can simply deliver better sound quality on their part. Especially the JBL Flip 6 is superior to the Marshall Will in this respect.
By the way, those who don’t want to do without the vintage charm can also look around for other devices. For example, you get better sound for a bit more money with the Klipsch Heritage Groove (test). If you mainly listen to music within your own four walls anyway, we advise a size upgrade. The Marshall Acton III (test) is stationary, but offers the iconic design of the series and a really great sound to boot.