Marshall recently launched the latest in its line of wireless speakers, the Marshall Stockwell II and the all-new Marshall Tufton. Both of which are now available to buy in the US.
The Marshall Stockwell II is priced at $249 in the US, while the Marshall Tufton will set you back $399. Both are now available to buy from select retailers, including Amazon and via Marshall's website.
Here’s what we thought of them.
Choose your weapon
Ideally, it would be better to review these two speakers independently especially as they are very different propositions aimed at different buyers. But you just can’t.
In spite of being aimed at different buyers, the consistency between the two speakers is far too much to ignore. The Marshall Stockwell II does not simply look like a mini version of the Marshall Tufton, it legitimately is a mini version.
The style, the features, the functions, the sound quality, the build quality, and anything else you want to differentiate on are the same with these two speakers. Yes, there is subtle differences between them, but those differences are just that - subtle.
Therefore choosing between the two is simply a matter of choosing your weapon. Which one is better-suited to your listening habits and needs and this can be best summed up by answering one simple question: how big is car trunk? Or for that matter, do you even have a car trunk to begin with?
Both of these speakers are meant to be on the road and both are rated to offer up to 20 hours of on-the-go charge and so you shouldn’t really expect a preference in usage longevity. However, the Tufton dwarfs the Stockwell II in terms of size and this is the most important distinction between them. If you can handle and transport a speaker the size of the Tufton, then that's most likely going to be the best option for you.
Those looking for something more in the carry-in-your-hand range, the Stockwell II is ideal.
Both speakers feature the same main controls consisting of the volume knob (which also doubles as the on/off button), and separate controls for the bass and tops.
Which neatly brings up to the topic of sound quality.
Marshall is no stranger to good sound and this is no longer the brand’s first wireless speaker rodeo so you can rest assured these speakers sound great. They genuinely do.
Of course, the Tufton sounds better but that’s to be expected based on the physics of the speaker. Therefore, if you want to cut to the chase and know which model sounds better, it's undoubtedly the Tufton.
Make no mistake, though, the smaller Stockwell II is not lacking in any respect. If anything, it is the more impressive of the two speakers as the sound output and quality is not as held back by its size as it should be.
This is a powerful little speaker for what it is and that makes it a great solution for those looking for something that’s highly portable, but also powerful.
The sound is clear and it produces a decent level of bass considering just how small it is. This is also true when turned up to 11 and with the bass tweaked to max. The output remains clear for the most part and the bass is punchy enough. The same could be said for the tops, although they didn’t feel quite as piercing as the bass did punchy. Arguably, the mids are what is comprised the most here and this becomes all the more apparent when you start tweaking with the bass and treble due to the lack of the option to adjust the mids.
Generally speaking, the sound quality on the Tufton was deemed exactly the same as the Stockwell II, although if there was a complaint to be made at either of these speakers then it would be aimed squarely at the Tufton.
That said, this is probably a complaint that Marshall will be happy to admit to...
The Tufton wants you to turn it up
Most speakers usually suffer when they are turned up but that’s not a problem with the Tufton at all. In fact, the opposite is more true as this is a speaker that’s almost impossible to run at a lower volume.
It will play of course, but the sound is rich enough that it is aching for the user to hit the volume. What’s all the worse is the aching continues the more you turn it up.
Yes, maxing out the bass dial and the volume will start to create some issues but if you are using this in any inside space, you won’t be doing that. With the bass and treble dials set to mid-way, and the volume as loud as you need it, the overall output is extremely well balanced and handled.
This is partly the result of the setup with the Tufton employing separate amplifiers for the bass (40-watts), the full-range drivers (15-watts each) and the tweeters (10-watts each), and so the output is extremely clean considering this is a one-unit solution. However, running at a lower volume just feels like it is under-powering the speaker. In truth, it is under-powering the speaker as this one not only can be turned up, it really does want to be turned up. It needs to be turned up.
Marshall is sort of aiming this speaker at the road-tripper or more adventurous type who wants a big sound when out and about, and it will service that market very well. The quality and the loudness seems more than sufficient for most general open-up-your-trunk occasions and it seems unlikely most users will feel they need more power or volume than the speaker offers.
This is also a speaker that can be used in more of a stationary fashion as it can be plugged directly into the wall - unlike the Stockwell II, you do get a mains power lead with the Tufton. The Stockwell II in contrast is charged over USB (no wall adapter included) which seems to suggest this is not really an at-home unit at all.
For those who opt to use the Tufton indoors, they will either need the space to fill the louder sound or have the ability to resist that dull ache inside that screams “turn me up” continuously.
Needless to say, with both of these units targeting outside use cases, they both do come with a rugged design and build quality overall. Like every design trait, they both come with what is almost an identical level of protection.
Like the brand, build to last
These speakers appear to be extremely rugged units. The outside is made of silicone while the front and back are protected through steel metal grilles - the Tufton only has a grille on the front as the rear includes a removable back-plate - which may make it easier to repair down the road if anything goes wrong, unlike the Stockwell II.
Neither speaker felt too vulnerable and even the occasional bang and drop didn't seem to trouble either of them. Both models do seem as though they are built to last.
In addition, both units do come with a degree of water-resistance: Tufton is rated as IPX2 while the Stockwell II comes with an IPX4 certification. So both should be just about fine in most environments and situations. Although the Stockwell II is the more resistant in this regard.
With Marshall, it’s the little details that really shine through. For example, even the included-in-the-box strap feels excellent and well-made. Sporting a vibrant red felt on the inside and faux-leather on the outside, the straps feel as stylish as they do strong.
The latter point is worth noting as neither speaker is particularly light with the smaller Stockwell II weighing in at just over 3 lbs and the larger unit tipping the scales just under 11 lbs.
Obviously, the Tufton strap is a lot longer to account for the increase in size between the two speakers, but otherwise they feel equally as good and suitable as each other. Opting for the smaller speaker does not mean you are getting a lesser strap, just a smaller one.
For some, the straps for both might feel a little on the small side in general as you don’t have that much room to carry the speakers (there's no shoulder carrying happening here) but considering the weight of these speakers, that’s probably a wise move.
And yes, while rugged, the design is supposed to remind you of Marshall's roots with the overall amp-look (including the turn-it-up-to-10 knobs), the mic mesh, and the guitar-inspired strap.
While the two speakers are largely identical on the durability front, there are some small differences. For example, besides the difference in IP certification, the Tufton is also that little bit more protected thanks to the use of corner protectors and the inclusion of speaker feet on the bottom.
Adding to their on-the-road credentials, the battery life is also pretty impressive. We won’t get into whether they last exactly the numbers quoted as that’s just not the way these speakers should be used.
What was clear during testing is the battery will easily make it through any daily situation. Both speakers come with an LED bar to let you know the battery level and these rarely went down, let alone completely out.
When it came to charging, Marshall also claims a couple of hours will give you back a full charge but that seemed to be quite a safe message from the company. These speakers charged fully much quicker than Marshall suggests - another sign the company is underplaying the quality of the battery life that’s on offer.
If battery life matters to you, then don’t worry, you’re good with either of these speakers.
Bit pricey, though
The one major downside with these speakers is the price and this equally applies to both.
At $399 in the US, the Tufton feels like an expensive product for what it is. You’re not exactly getting much in the way of additional features or intelligence. It doesn't even come with any notably voice support - if you can imagine that?
Put simply, it's just a speaker, albeit a very good one.
Likewise, at $249 for the smaller Stockwell II you are paying a premium price for what at the end of the day is a very small speaker. For example, the Stockwell II feels like it is purpose-made for students or those backpacking and yet those might not be the type of buyers that want to pay such a high price for a device like this. This might not be a throwaway device, but it's not a throwaway price either.
The reality is that the wireless speaker market is bulging right now and there's plenty of decent options for consumers to pick from. These two speakers just do not seem to fit in so well when it comes to competing on price and if that is a primary concern for you then you may be better off looking elsewhere.
You are certainly getting a good quality product that boasts a good quality sound, build, along with a reliable wireless connection and battery life expectation.
But, you are paying for all of that and while losing out on some of the newer features other speakers are quick to boast about.
Should you buy Marshall’s Tufton or Stockwell II speakers?
The short answer is yes, you should. These are excellent speakers and will be of particular benefit to those who want an option that’s sturdy enough to be used anywhere.
The slightly longer answer is maybe. The price alone does make these speakers a lot less appealing. That's not to say Marshall should have priced them lower (Marshall should have priced them lower) as you are getting your money’s worth, but that might not make handing over the cash feel any better. These speakers appear to be an investment product that you pay more for knowing that in return you're getting a product designed to last a few years.
These speakers do sound great, are built to last, and do appear to be solid products.
Of course, even if you do get beyond the price hurdle, you’re then faced with trying to decide which one is the right one for you.
And with size, weight, volume, and bass all factors in the equation, that's a question only you can answer.