In short: Marshall has updated its Acton, Stanmore and Woburn wireless speakers with improvements in the sound quality and connectivity departments. The company announced the updated models are now available to buy and confirmed the Acton II is priced at $249 in the US, £219 in the UK, and €249 in Europe. The middle option, the Stanmore II is $349 in the US, £299 in the UK and €349 in Europe. While the high-end Woburn II costs $499 in the US, £439 in the UK and €499 in Europe.
Background: Marshall first announced the Acton, Stanmore and Woburn wireless speakers in August 2017 and positioned them as options for those who prefer the Marshall signature look. As a result all three speakers sported more of an amp-like design, and this has translated over to the second-generation models, which on initial impressions do not look that dissimilar to the first-gen options. One of the big selling-points with last year’s versions was the ability for the speakers to connect to other speakers through the use of multi-room support. Although this seems to be something that has not made it across to the newer models, with the company opting to focus on the multi-host support this time instead. This is due to these speakers featuring Bluetooth 5.0 which allows each speaker to connect to more than one Bluetooth-enabled device at the same time. In addition, all three are said to now include an upgraded DSP which among other things includes better performance at all volume levels.
Impact: The Acton II, Stanmore II and Woburn II speakers are not for everyone, and for a number of reasons. Firstly, in spite of the unique look and feel, these are expensive speakers in general with the most affordable option coming in at $249. Although they are technically cheaper than what the original models launched for in 2017. What’s more, while boasting a high price in general, the speakers are limited on the feature front when compared to other options that cost considerably less. Yes, they offer improved connectivity, which is important, but these are not smart speakers and so they do not offer any smart-related capabilities other than connecting to a corresponding app for minor sound profile adjustments. It's assumed this was intentional as the company already does offer a version of the Acton II and Stanmore II which are priced $50 more than these versions respectively, and do feature Amazon Alexa support. In effect, these models are just Bluetooth speakers, albeit ones which come with the backing of a popular brand, a nice design, and a good sound.