Written by Cheryl Tan
Sonos has had a pretty strong hold on the multi-room audio industry for a while, and Marshall is looking to get their finger in the pie as well with the new Marshall Uxbridge Voice speaker.
As usual, Marshall has the design of the speaker nailed. Rocking the same aesthetic that you’ll find on all other Marshall products, you get the iconic Marshall logo on the front and a woven mesh grill alongside a brass strip below that is home to four LED lights that indicate volume levels, bass and treble levels, as well as pairing status and whether the microphone is muted.
On top, you get three brass rocker buttons that control volume, bass and treble levels. Considering the bass and treble is pretty much what most people tweak within the EQ settings, I think it’s a good addition that definitely makes it a lot more convenient for people to adjust the sound of the speaker to their liking.
The one quibble I have is that the casing of the speaker is actually plastic and not leather like most other Marshall speakers. It does make it feel a bit cheaper and not as premium, but thankfully it’s a matte plastic so fingerprints don’t show up at all.
For people concerned with privacy, there’s a microphone mute button on the top that disables the microphones. You’ll be able to tell it’s muted by the lights on the front. This speaker can’t be used for calls, and there’s no 3.5mm headphone port either, so you’re stuck with wireless connections only.
Set-up is pretty easy, you can even do it just by searching for the speaker and adding it via Google Home on a phone. The suggested option is to download the Marshall Voice app though, but it works fine through the Google Home app as well. Once that’s done, you can control it via Chromecast or even Apple’s AirPlay 2. With that, you’ll be able to link it together with other compatible speakers for a multi-room experience similar to what Sonos does.
There are two variants of the speaker, with either supporting Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, but the one we’re getting in Singapore is the Google Assistant one. Google commands work well, and you can also control music playback on Spotify and Apple Music.
Sound-wise, it’s decent. The speaker can get loud for sure, since it’s running on wired power, and bass definitely comes through quite nicely even without tweaking the EQ. But I found the sound a bit thin and not as full-bodied as I expected.
The bass has a good amount of rumble, but it’s lacking a bit of extension and body. Mids tend to be a bit recessed with this speaker and when faced with more complicated songs, instruments tend to start blending into each other.
It doesn’t help that the soundstage is quite limited here. With the Marshall Emberton that we reviewed recently, there was a front and rear grill, helping to add airiness into the sound. This speaker is limited to a front grill which makes songs feel a bit too compressed.
Nuances and softer details in songs are harder to pick out, and instrument staging is compromised as a result. This speaker might do well in a dual-speaker setup for bigger rooms, but on its own, it will definitely struggle to push out detailed music in noisy environments.
At 1.39kg, it’s definitely not a heavy house speaker that you’ll need to leave alone once set up. But the fact that this isn’t battery-powered is a downside since it means that you’ll require a socket to plug the adapter into wherever you want to put it in the house.
The small form factor is a plus though, especially for people who are short on space and want a speaker that can double up as a smart speaker without having to allocate too much space to it.
So should you get this over the Sonos One? Perhaps. I definitely prefer the Marshall aesthetic, but the Uxbridge Voice is slightly more expensive, and I still think that the Sonos One has a slightly cleaner sound. If the Uxbridge Voice suits your home aesthetics, then it’s an option to keep in mind for sure.
More information and purchase options for the Marshall Uxbridge Voice speaker (S$399) can be found on Marshall’s Lazada store.