The Marshall Willen is a compact portable speaker with rugged good looks. I really dig the distinctive Marshall design — it's like holding a tiny guitar amplifier in your hand. Meanwhile, the speaker's IP67 dust and water resistance, and 15-hour-long battery life mean you can bring it outdoors without worrying about the weather.
- 10W Class D amplifier, 2 passive radiator
- Bluetooth 5.1
- Battery life of up to 15 hours
The Willen feels really sturdy and solid. The tiny joystick at the top right corner is a clever touch. It lets you change the volume (push up or down), and control music playback (push left to skip back and push right to skip forward). And it also acts as the power button (press and hold to turn the speaker on or off). There's a convenient carrying strap at the back. You can hang the Willen by this strap to your bathroom hook, for example, and enjoy your music in the shower. But I did encounter several instances of iffy Bluetooth connection between the speaker and my smartphone, which was resolved only by rebooting the speaker.
Given that it's just slightly larger than my palm, it's unsurprising that the Willen is a mono speaker. As a result, the soundstage is limited and the audio isn't immersive. The sound also comes from the front of the speaker, so don't expect it to fill your room. The good news is that you can start a “stack session” to connect multiple Willen speakers together by triple-pressing the Bluetooth pairing button. I couldn't test this feature with my single unit, but I'd assume that you'll get a larger, more immersive sound with two or more speakers.
Mids and trebles come across clearly from the Willen. But there isn't much bass to talk about. While I can feel the speaker vibrating hard in my hand, I can't actually feel much rumble from the music. Pushing the volume up above the 80% mark also leads to a severe dip in the sound quality. There are three EQ presets in the Marshall Bluetooth app (for Android and iOS), though you cannot customise any of them. The Push preset, which claims to boost the bass and treble, doesn't seem to do much. The Voice preset does improve vocal clarity slightly. But in all likelihood, you'll end up with the default Marshall preset, which sounds the best to me.
Depending on the volume, the Marshall Willen will easily last you an entire day at the beach. You can also get around 3 hours of playtime with a 20-min charge via its USB-C port. At S$179, the Willen is slightly more expensive than similar portable speakers from brands like Ultimate Ears and JBL. But its good looks and compact, solid build should earn it a place on your shortlist for waterproof portable speakers. Get it now from Shopee and Lazada.
Note: Review unit provided by Marshall.
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