Shopper electronics corporations are all the time searching for a model to persuade is to half with our money, and by now all manufacturers with any form of recognition have already been licensed to Chinese language gadget-makers. Some do not work in any respect – does a Porsche laptop or an, err, KFC phone make any sense – and but Zound’s resolution to place not only a Marshall emblem, however the retro styling of its legendary amplifiers and audio system on its multi-room system makes quite a lot of sense.

Marshall’s rock-star heritage interprets to the diminutive Acton fairly properly; the usage of the identical mottled matte black vinyl plastic masking discovered on Marshall guitar amps, full with rounded corners and superbly machined brass knobs, produce a great-looking machine. 

A wi-fi Bluetooth speaker able to AirPlay, ChromeCast and Spotify Join, the Acton can even kind a part of a multi-room music community. Its dimension makes it greatest suited to a bookshelf or bed room, however at 40W it is going to out-perform something it could be changing. Be warned; the Acton makes up for in quantity what it lacks in stature. A part of a trio of recent wi-fi Bluetooth audio system that may be networked collectively utilizing apps (there isn’t any distant management included), the Marshall Acton – obtainable in black or cream – sells for $349 (£319 / AU$380). 

The Marshall Acton definitely seems the half with its mixture of brass options with black vinyl.

Marshall Acton Multi-Room speaker design

Regardless of its tiny dimension, stylistically the Acton seems each bit the form of Marshall speaker you would possibly look forward to finding on a stage. It is small – simply 265x160x150 mm – and weighs 2.8kg, however oddly there are not any portability choices; the Acton must be plugged into the mains, and there’s no carry deal with. Neither is there a distant management, with Marshalls’ Multi-Room app (and Google House) caring for set-up and configuration. 

The Acton options bodily controls aplenty

Nevertheless, on its high are 4 brass buttons for quantity, bass, treble, and for toggling between sources of audio. That features WiFi, Bluetooth and an auxiliary three.5 mm socket on the Acton’s high alongside a button for transferring between multi-room and single supply modes. That supply knob may also be pointed at seven separate presets, which may embrace Spotify playlists (in case you are a subscriber).  

Marshall Acton Multi-Room speaker options

Versatility is all the time good, however there are maybe too many decisions to connect with the Acton. Whereas its Bluetooth four.2 connectivity can be utilized by virtually any cellular machine, Apple merchandise can join over AirPlay whether or not they’re utilizing the Acton as a single speaker or networked to different audio system in Marshall’s multi-room assortment. It is also doable to go through Chromecast, which is baked-in to the Acton and the default approach of connecting it to a house community. Customers of Spotify Join app can even route music straight to the Acton. 

Contained in the Acton is a few critical energy; a 30W Class D amplifier for the woofer and two 10W Class D amplifiers for the tweeters. That is 40W in whole, which is arguably overkill for a bedside table-style speaker.  

Marshall Acton Multi-Room speaker set-up

Though the free Marshall Multi-Room app can be utilized to set-up and function the Acton and its friends, in observe it seems to have hived-off every little thing to the Google House app. That is a brand new improvement – it wasn’t that approach on the Marshall Stanmore we reviewed not too long ago. 

As soon as switched-on, firing-up Marshall’s app instantly results in the Google House app, which immediately recognises the presence of the Acton and asks for a location title – a ‘zone’. As soon as it is labelled ‘bed room’, ‘rest room’ and even ‘shed’, Google’s app attaches to a house WiFi community and will get busy downloading the most recent firmware. 

The completion of all of those small phases of the set-up process are celebrated by audible guitar riffs, in line with the Marshall branding. Then comes a ‘casting’ tutorial, although it isn’t all good; it prompted me to open the BBC iPlayer Radio app to stream to the Acton, however then proceeded to play the audio by way of my iPhone. It principally works high-quality, however Marshall’s strategy to multi-room is all a bit guide.  

Marshall ACton Multi-Room speaker efficiency

The usage of the Google House did show helpful throughout set-up, nevertheless it’s in any other case a pointless extra app. Though it may be used so as to add new units, you will must open the Marshall app to make any adjustments to quantity, bass and treble, for instance. Utilizing the app it is simple sufficient to swap between different Marshall audio system on the identical community, and set-up presets to Spotify playlists and internet radio stations through the app. 

Throughout our take a look at the Acton swapped between being tremendously spectacular to downright irritating. 

First, the good things; music is great, with a number of depth and element making up for the dearth of a lot stereo separation from this small speaker. The quantity goes extremely excessive – pointlessly excessive, even – with out distortion, and followers of bass with completely love the Acton.

Nevertheless, there have been simply too many drop-outs throughout our overview. Not solely that, however when initiating streaming the Acton typically stalled; a nudge of the amount knob appeared to deliver it again to life. 

We favored

It is laborious to argue with the Acton’s beautiful styling and equally engaging sound high quality. The element within the brass knobs and brushed gold-metallic panel provides the Acton enviable wow issue. The myriad connectivity choices are additionally spectacular, specifically the selection to play music by way of both the Marshall Multi-Room hub app, or from a telephone by way of Spotify or the native music apps on Apple and Android units.

Nevertheless, the spotlight is unquestionably its deep and detailed sound high quality, which is able to particularly impress anybody after bass and quantity. 

We disliked

Having beforehand used Marshall’s personal app to efficiently set-up the Marshall Stanmore, having Google House now so baked-in to the method appears reasonably pointless. So does the unnecessarily excessive volumes. 

Nevertheless, what was most disappointing had been the frequent sign dropouts that left the Acton seeming unreliable. 

Closing verdict

A greater-sized speaker for normal use than its pricier sibling the Marshall Stanmore, the great-sounding, extremely well-connected – and really costly – Acton is finally let down by its unreliability as a wi-fi speaker. It is a good strive, however that is arguably model over substance. 

We’re additionally not utterly satisfied by the idea of a Marshall multi-room system; you would possibly purchase one iconic-looking Marshall speaker, however would not two, three for 4 look somewhat odd in your house?  

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