Anyone with even a passing curiosity in well-liked music has in all probability seen Marshall guitar amps sharing the stage with most of the world’s biggest rock bands. Since 1962, the enduring look and emblem of those venerable highway warriors has let everybody know there’s some critical guitar shredding on the way in which.
More lately, Marshall licensed Sweden’s Zound Industries to fabricate headphones and Bluetooth audio system bearing the Marshall model, together with the Marshall Stanmore II Voice reviewed right here. The “Voice” within the identify signifies that it responds to voice instructions, and it is available in two completely different variations: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. I had the Alexa model for evaluate. After some bother getting every little thing working, the speaker sounded fairly good, particularly enjoying rock music.
The Marshall Stanmore II Voice seems identical to the amp head for a Marshall stack. It’s not precisely small, measuring 13.78 x 7.68 x 7.28 inches (WxHxD) and weighing a hefty 10.47 kilos.
The bass-reflex cupboard homes two 0.75-inch damped-fabric dome tweeters and one 5.25-inch coated-paper cone woofer dealing with ahead with a port on the again, so don’t place it proper up towards a wall or different floor to keep away from overemphasizing the bass—until you’re into that form of factor! The specified frequency vary extends from 50Hz to 20kHz (±6dB) with a most output of 101dB SPL at a distance of 1 meter. The woofer is pushed by 50W Class D amplifier, and every tweeter has its personal 15-watt Class D amp.
One main characteristic is built-in Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant voice management—my evaluate unit makes use of Alexa—which requires entry to your Wi-Fi community. The Stanmore II Voice can be part of any 802.11b/g/n/ac community at 2.4- or 5GHz with WPA safety. This lets it stream music from varied on-line suppliers, similar to Amazon Music, Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, Pandora, and others. In addition, you’ll be able to management different appropriate units, similar to TVs, lights, locks, thermostats, and so forth. A far-field two-microphone array with noise cancellation permits it to listen to you even when the music is turned up otherwise you’re throughout the room.
In addition to on-line streaming, the Stanmore II Voice may settle for audio by way of Bluetooth. The speaker implements Bluetooth 4.2 and helps the A2DP, AVRCP, and HID profiles; it doesn’t assist the aptX codec. Another wi-fi “input” is Spotify Connect, which streams audio from a tool with the Spotify app on to the Stanmore II Voice by way of Wi-Fi. In addition, the unit offers two bodily inputs: a 3.5mm jack on the highest and a pair of RCA jacks on the again. It helps audio resolutions as much as 192kHz/24-bit.
With a latest firmware replace, you’ll be able to assemble a multi-room speaker system that may play completely different tunes in every room or the identical track all through your house. Using your Wi-Fi community, Alexa Multi-Room helps you to mix appropriate audio system from completely different manufacturers right into a multi-room system.
The high of the unit sports activities a number of bodily controls, together with a source-selection button, quantity knob, bass and treble knobs, a play/pause/skip button, and a microphone button that prompts Alexa or Google Assistant with out having to say the wake phrase. The microphone button additionally mutes and unmutes the 2 mics, that are mounted on the highest as nicely. The quantity, bass, and treble knobs are every surrounded with markers that mild up one after the other as you enhance the settings, which is manner cool.
Aside from the top-panel controls and voice instructions, you’ll be able to function the Stanmore II Voice with the Marshall Voice app. Also, you need to use the app to arrange the speaker. In truth, the included “manual” says solely to obtain the app and comply with the onscreen directions—nothing else! You can obtain the complete guide if you need it.
Once the speaker is ready up—which I focus on under—the app is tremendous easy. The Stanmore II Voice seems in the primary display screen with a quantity slider; tapping the speaker’s icon brings up a display screen that lets you choose the enter (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Aux, RCA). The Wi-Fi display screen consists of play/pause and skip to subsequent/earlier observe buttons in addition to a quantity slider and playback-progress bar. The Bluetooth, Aux, and RCA screens have solely a button labeled “Activate,” which merely selects the corresponding enter on the speaker.
Next to the speaker’s icon are three dots. Tapping on them opens a Speaker Settings display screen with objects that allow you to rename the speaker; apply equalization with a five-band graphic EQ; set the depth of the lights across the quantity, bass, and treble controls; allow or disable the power-on sound; and signal into your Amazon account. It didn’t let me signal into Amazon from my telephone, nonetheless; as a substitute, it confirmed a clean white display screen. As I focus on under, it took two customer-support reps and the product supervisor to resolve the issue—form of.
Tapping the menu icon within the higher left opens a menu with 4 objects: Settings, Help, Shop, and About. The Settings display screen has just one merchandise that allows you to enter your e mail deal with to subscribe for updates, particular affords, and “inspirational reads” (no matter which means). Why is that this display screen known as “Settings”? The actual settings are within the different menu. The Help display screen affords a Quick Guide, the web guide (which requires you to ascertain a web-based account), and a contact display screen that additionally requires you to have an account with Marshall.
Opening the Marshall Voice app for the primary time, it begins with just a few feature-touting screens, after which asks to your e mail deal with, which you’ll be able to skip. Next, the app searches for audio system, after which it shows step-by-step directions on methods to arrange the speaker(s) it finds.
This all went easily on my iPhone 6, however instantly afterward, the app displayed a clean white display screen. Even stranger, the issue appeared to appropriate itself after just a few days. When I mentioned the magic phrase “Alexa,” nonetheless, the speaker mentioned, “Login unsuccessful. Please log into your Amazon account in the companion app.” Unfortunately, I noticed nothing within the Marshall app that might enable me to log into my Amazon account.
Another drawback was that the Stanmore II Voice didn’t present up within the record of Bluetooth units on my iPhone, although it did present up within the Bluetooth record on my iPad. Later, it confirmed up on the iPad however not the iPhone. I made positive it wasn’t paired with one other system, however that didn’t resolve the issue.
Even worse, the customer-support perform on the Marshall web site is a joke. There is not any telephone quantity to name, solely a assist popup that allows you to sort in your query and offers hyperlinks to numerous assist pages which may—or may not—deal with your drawback. It didn’t deal with mine.
The one saving grace is a live-chat perform, which I attempted subsequent. The first customer-support rep I chatted with was unable to assist as a result of he didn’t have a Stanmore II Voice with Alexa obtainable. The second rep had me do a manufacturing facility reset on the speaker and set it up once more within the Marshall app. That appeared to work precisely because it did the primary time—together with a clean white display screen when it was accomplished!
The second rep knowledgeable me that an Alexa sign-in display screen ought to seem instantly after setup, not a clean white display screen. He checked whether or not or not the app is appropriate with my telephone and its OS—it’s. He instructed me to delete the Marshall Voice and Alexa apps and reinstall them, which I did. Then, he had me do one other manufacturing facility reset on the speaker, restart the telephone, and arrange the speaker but once more. The end result was the identical—a clean white display screen as a substitute of the Alexa app after setup.
I ended up talking with the product supervisor, who was on the guardian firm’s headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden. He instructed that I set up the Marshall Voice app on a distinct system, so I put in it on my iPad. After going by means of the set-up routine once more, I lastly noticed the Amazon sign-in display screen, not a clean white display screen. I signed into my Amazon account, and every little thing appeared to work appropriately.
The product supervisor mentioned the corporate had confirmed that the app was appropriate with the iOS model on my telephone, however they don’t have each system that may run it, and so they had not tried it on an iPhone 6. The iPad was operating a later model of iOS, which labored advantageous.
Before entering into some critical listening, I attempted out some Alexa voice instructions, which labored with no issues. I requested Alexa for the native climate (rain tomorrow) and to play some tunes. All went precisely as anticipated.
For most of my listening, I used Bluetooth from the iPad. I began with some people/world music, together with “Searching for Lambs” from John Renbourn’s album Ship of Fools, and “Rewind” from Oregon’s album Beyond Words. Both sounded good and wealthy, particularly the guitars, however the acoustic bass on the Oregon observe was barely congested. Turning down the bodily bass management helped a bit, however on the expense of deep bass frequencies.
I bought a greater end result utilizing the Marshall app’s five-band graphic EQ. It defaults to Flat, however turning down the Low band (second to lowest) helped clear up that congestion.
For some critical vocals, I checked out “Weeping” from Josh Groban’s album Awake (that includes the vocal ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo and singer Vusi Mahlasela) in addition to “Spem in Alium” by Thomas Tallis as carried out by The King’s Singers on their album of the identical identify. In each instances, the vocals have been clear and properly rendered, although barely congested within the decrease midrange with flat EQ, so I went again to my tweaked Low setting, which helped. Also, Groban’s lead vocal was a bit recessed within the combine, however the dynamic vary was good.
Turning to good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll, I performed “Sweet Home Alabama” from The Best of Lynyrd Skynyrd and “Ohio” from Neil Young’s Greatest Hits. The Stanmore II Voice was clearly in its factor, sounding wealthy and clean. Young’s lead vocal appeared barely veiled, however nonetheless, this speaker works nicely with rock as befits its heritage. I attempted the Rock EQ preset with these tracks, which boosted the bass significantly—an excessive amount of for my style.
Next up was some classical music. I listened to the Pastoral Symphony from Handel’s Messiah as carried out by the London Philharmonic underneath John Alldis in addition to “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught” from the brand new Broadway solid recording of South Pacific. (I do know, South Pacific isn’t actually “classical” music, but it surely does have an orchestra, so shut sufficient!) On the Handel, the Stanmore II Voice sounded considerably restrained with underwhelming bass, although the orchestral sections have been pretty nicely rendered, and the general sound was heat. Likewise with the tune from South Pacific, which exhibited clear vocals and orchestra. The vocals, nonetheless, weren’t as out entrance as I’d like. In this case, I boosted the Bass (lowest) band within the EQ barely, which helped convey out the bottom frequencies.
Comparison with Klipsch’s The Three
I in contrast the sound of the Stanmore II Voice with that of Klipsch’s The Three, which I nonetheless had available after reviewing it for TechHive. Overall, The Three had a considerably leaner, clearer sound, and I might hear deeper into the combination.
I couldn’t ignore The Three’s boxy high quality, nonetheless; the Stanmore II Voice additionally sounded a bit boxy, however much less so than the Klipsch.
Lead vocals have been extra up-front on The Three, and vocal ensembles sounded extra balanced. But its sound was extra well mannered than the Marshall’s on rock music. Interestingly, I assumed the Klipsch sounded extra aggressive and a bit colder on classical music.
In my listening, the Marshall Stanmore II Voice carried out greatest with rock—which is sensible, given its heritage. Its sound isn’t fairly as nicely suited to extra well mannered tracks, although the five-band EQ can assist. It definitely doesn’t sound unhealthy enjoying different varieties of music, but it surely actually shines when it’s rocking out.
The five-band graphic EQ is likely one of the coolest options of this speaker; I want different such merchandise would come with one thing prefer it. It helps you to tailor the sound to your liking, although it’s inconvenient to regulate the EQ for every tune. After listening to the presets on quite a lot of materials, I made a decision to go away it on Flat with a barely decreased Low setting, which gave the perfect end result total to my ears.
Unfortunately, the app’s habits with my iPhone and iPad was considerably erratic. Aside from the issues I had with signing into Alexa on my telephone, I might pair it with one system and never the opposite by way of Bluetooth, and a while later, these roles reversed.
If you’re an avid rocker, the Marshall Stanmore II Voice makes a transparent visible assertion testifying to that truth—and it sounds nice enjoying your favourite style. Those preferring different varieties of music may not discover its apparent relationship to rock as interesting, however the sound remains to be fairly good—and the five-band graphic EQ could make it even higher.
At almost $400, it ain’t low-cost, but it surely’s $100 lower than Klipsch’s The Three. Which one sounds higher? That is dependent upon your style; the Klipsch is cleaner, leaner, and extra balanced total, but it surely sounds extra boxy than the Marshall. And the Stanmore II Voice has the five-band EQ, which give it a fairly large edge. In the top, it’ll in all probability come all the way down to which one you suppose seems higher in your house’s decor.