Marshall Middleton test: our full review – Bluetooth speakers

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Written By tsboi team

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Test Marshall Middleton
The Marshall Middleton Bluetooth speaker // Source: Tristan Jacquel for Frandroid

A newcomer to the Marshall catalogue, the Middleton sits at the top of the portable range, alongside the Marshall Willen and Marshall Emberton II. Larger, more expensive, the Middleton inherits the acoustic solutions of the manufacturer’s residential speakers, in this case the use of tweeters to fine-tune high-frequency reproduction, as well as bi-amping to play louder. As the sunny days draw near, the Marshall Middleton aims to compete with the Sony SRS-XG300 and JBL Xtreme 3 in the game of best Bluetooth speaker to take to the lawn or water’s edge.

Marshall MiddletonData sheet

This test was performed with a loudspeaker provided by the manufacturer.

Marshall MiddletonDesign

Recognizable at first glance, the Marshall Middleton is dressed in the finery specific to the manufacturer’s loudspeakers. There’s the wide front grille, with typical metal mesh, flanked by the gold Marshall logo. The Middleton is encased in a carbon black silicone casing, as elegant as it is practical, absorbing shock during handling and preventing the transmission of vibrations from the speaker to the surface it sits on.

Test Marshall Middleton
The Marshall Middleton is not afraid of humidity or dust // Source: Tristan Jacquel for Frandroid

The control buttons are installed at the top and for the most part hidden under the silicone casing. On the left are the battery status and Bluetooth pairing buttons, while on the right are the tone (bass/treble) buttons. In the center sits a gold, brass-like aluminum navigation button that lets you turn the speaker on and off, as well as change tracks and pause playback.

Test Marshall Middleton
The line input allows you to connect an analog auxiliary source and the USB port to charge a smartphone quickly (Power Delivery) // Source: Tristan Jacquel for Frandroid

On the back are the USB-C port to recharge the battery or a mobile device, as well as the analogue line input in 3.5mm mini-jack format. The latter will allow you to use the headphone output of a smartphone or a walkman, if you do not want to use the Bluetooth connection.

top quality assembly

The Marshall Middleton is remarkably put together and its disassembly reveals rigorous internal architecture. The speaker structure is ultra-rigid, thanks to multiple components, firmly bolted together and sealed together by silicone gaskets. The tightness of the Marshall (IP67) is at this price and its acoustic qualities too. Battery and amplification are housed in compartments isolated from the acoustic load, in the upper part for the electronics and in the lower part for the battery. As a sign of the care taken, the top cover is sealed with silicone crown screws. Clean we tell you.

Test Marshall Middleton
At the heart of the venue, everything is impeccably organized and solid // Source: Tristan Jacquel for Frandroid

The Marshall has six drivers, mounted at the front, rear and sides and protected by robust acoustic grilles. We will discuss later the nature of these transducers, which are installed in an unusual way to spread the sound to 360°.

Marshall Middletonuse and application

Despite its eight hundred kilograms, the Marshall Middleton is not difficult to handle, thanks to its grippy coating and carrying strap. Although she measures approximately 23x10x10 cm, she easily fits into a small backpack. Another positive point, the enclosure is very stable and is not afraid of shocks.

Test Marshall Middleton
The central button works as a joystick to adjust the volume and manage playback // Source: Tristan Jacquel for Frandroid

When turned on, the speaker plays a short guitar riff and lights up its LEDs to indicate battery charge status. The control knobs are easy to operate and the ability to change the tone directly from the cabinet is useful.

The Marshall Bluetooth app also takes on this equalization function and offers to combine two speakers to stream the same music program.

The Marshall Middleton has a Bluetooth 5.1 controller that supports the SBC audio codec and multipoint connection. Thus, two sources can use the loudspeaker in succession, without having to disconnect one to use the other. After verification, Bluetooth reception works fine through a thin wall and up to 10 meters away.

Marshall MiddletonAudio

The Marshall Middleton is equipped with six speakers, including two passive radiators. An acoustic solution that is already common in mobile speakers, which, due to its small size, and therefore a low volume of internal air, manage to reproduce more low frequencies thanks to the passive radiators. These are powered in their excursions by the performance-enhancing active transducers.

Test Marshall Middleton
The rear of the speaker, with a passive radiator and fabric dome tweeter // Source: Tristan Jacquel for Frandroid

When opening the Middleton, we discovered that the main speakers (the ones that cover the most frequencies) are housed on the sides of the enclosure and therefore do not emit any sound directly towards the listener, but on the sides. It is surprising that it has always been good practice in acoustics to point the transducers towards the listener. Is it troublesome to listen? Not really, because the tweeters are installed on the front and rear sides of the box. So, whether you’re positioned in front of the Middleton or behind it, you’re directly sensing a lot of information from the midrange and high registers.

Test Marshall Middleton
The side drivers are solidly protected from shock // Source: Tristan Jacquel for Frandroid

In principle, installing drivers on each side is a good idea, as it provides a very useful circular sound outdoors. In the middle of a picnic blanket, between two beach towels or lounge chairs, this speaker will deliver the same sound to all listeners.

At the Marshall Middleton, we have:

  • 2 x 8 cm diameter midrange speakers (with 2×20 W amplification)
  • 2x 15mm diameter fabric dome tweeters (with 2x10W amplification)
  • 2 passive radiators 10×8 cm

sound signatures

The Marshall Emberton was tested indoors and outdoors with an Apple Music iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Marshall Middleton’s sound is clear and powerful, without harshness or aggression, with a pleasant spatial openness. The robust and generous bass gives the listener confidence: the speaker always conveys a balanced and authoritative message. After measurement, we can confirm the frequency response reported by Marshall, down to 50 Hz on bass. This is actually the natural crossover frequency of the speaker, which continues to be loud at 45Hz, before fading out below 40Hz.

As is often the case with this type of compact speaker, Marshall has implemented active low-frequency equalization, the intensity of which decreases as the volume increases. Up to 50% volume the Middleton maintains its balance, and beyond that the low frequencies are gradually reduced. However, thanks to its speakers and its amplification, the speaker does not get much weaker and is still powerful in the bass.

    Test Marshall Middleton
At full volume, the Marshall Middleton approaches 90 dB at 1 meter away // Source: Tristan Jacquel for Frandroid

The Marshall signature is there, but it seems to have evolved from the manufacturer’s previous models, with better distributed power and less centered midrange. The Middleton is therefore balanced and projects the sound more than it diffuses it at 100% of its volume. Then it produces almost 90 decibels of intensity, in the middle frequencies (at 1 meter). With such a volume, the use of the Middleton outdoors is comfortable, even in a crowded environment.

Test Marshall Middleton
Marshall Middleton’s silicone dress // Source: Tristan Jacquel for Frandroid

In short, the Marshall Middleton signature is characterized by deep, solid bass, well-defined midrange, and energetic, silky treble. The tone corrections offered by the speaker allow you to correctly adjust the signature.

Scene and dynamic behavior

Since Marshall Middleton shoots in all directions, his spatialization is unconventional. However, since the main speakers are housed on the sides, the stereo is properly marked. Only the high frequencies are not spread to the left and right, but to the front and back. It’s not really obtrusive and, on the contrary, it gives the sound a nice depth and very little directivity.

On the dynamic side, all is well. At low volumes, the Middleton sounds quiet but not lazy: it pulsates softly, as it were, with equal energy across the entire spectrum. The amplification respects the nuances of the music.

Marshall MiddletonMicro

No microphone on the Marshall Middleton, which doesn’t allow for audio calls. The speaker is exclusively designed for listening to music.

Marshall MiddletonAutonomy

At 50% volume, the Marshall Middleton lasted just under 11 hours on this test. This is almost half of the 20 hours advertised by Marshall, who, however, does not specify the volume used for his measurement, or whether line-in was preferred over Bluetooth. To achieve this autonomy from the manufacturer, it will be necessary to lower the volume below 30%, because the amplification consumes three times less energy according to my measurements. We then obtain a sound volume greater than 70 dB, which is already quite high.

Marshall MiddletonPrice and release date

The Marshall Middleton is available in black and brass colors for €299. Its direct competitors are the Sony SRS-XG300 -less balanced and generous- and the JBL Xtreme 3, more powerful and incisive. The Middleton sounds a little less loud than the JBL, it sets the pace in terms of dynamics, but its performance/size ratio is better and its 360° distribution is a real asset.

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Marshall Middleton at the best price?

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