Marshall Woburn review: Do You Need This in 2020?
Here is a multi-room speaker that looks unashamedly just like a bulky Marshall amplifier you will probably find on stage at a gig. Need your own Wall of Sound in the home? In the event that you do, the Woburn spits out a fairly serious 110W from any device with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Compatible not merely with AirPlay, ChromeCast and Spotify Connect, but also with two other wireless speakers in Zound’s Marshall collection – the Acton and Stanmore – the Marshall Woburn makes one helluva sound.
The new assortment of Marshall multi-room speakers are about presenting a stylistic option to Sonos. And like its nemesis, the Sonos Play:5, the Woburn does not have any remote control. Appropriate for Apple AirPlay, Google ChromeCast and in addition baked-in to Spotify, the Woburn could be installed using the Google Home iphone app on either OS, and linked to via WiFi or Bluetooth. However, it can have hard-button controls.
The release of the Woburn and its own smaller stablemates, the Acton and Stanmore, has resulted in some confusion as the manufacturer Zound used these names a year or two ago on some basic Bluetooth speakers. The newer products’ higher prices will be the only giveaway. The Marshall Woburn comes in black or cream, and sells for $599 (£539 / AU$700).
Stylistically all three speakers in Zound’s Marshall multi-room collection are of clear Marshall heritage, but only the Woburn is big enough in order to avoid looking just like a novelty product. It can actually look like a tiny practice amplifier from Marshall. It almost feels as though a shame you can’t plug a genuine guitar in.
Measuring 400x308x200mm and weighing 7.9kg, the Woburn is adorned by a major brassy Marshall logo and matching beading around the edge of a nicely stitched fabric speaker grille. At the top are some brass knobs for volume, bass, treble, and for selecting the music source. They enable some pretty finely-grained tweaks to the soundstage, and near by are even more manual controls; forward-skip and backwards-skip buttons.
Up gleam 3.5 mm socket auxiliary input for wiring-in a phone, tablet or laptop, and in the box is a cable for that purpose that stretches more than a metre. It’s even partially coiled to mimic a guitar lead.
Aside from its centrepiece size, what we love about the Woburn are some right and left-channel RCA music inputs on its rear. They make the Woburn suitable for hooking-up a turntable or CD player, which goes much further towards setting-up a home hi-fi system that the rather narrow idea of smartphone-led wireless streaming and/or multi-room.
With WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2, the Woburn works with with ChromeCast, Apple AirPlay and Spotify Connect, while inside certainly are a two 15W Class D amplifiers for the tweeters and two 40W Class D amplifiers for the woofer. That is clearly a whopping 110W altogether.
Whether you have an iPhone or Android device, setting-up the Woburn occurs within the Google Home app. It quickly located the speaker when it was mounted on the mains (there is absolutely no on or off switch), and linked it to a home Wi-Fi network.
However, whenever we tried to network its smaller sibling, the Acton, Google Home quickly recognised the occurrence of the latter, but lost all trace of it. None of the trademark guitar riffs were audible, nonetheless it did connect to it successfully in the backdrop. There are obviously a few bugs that require ironing-out.
The sound quality proposed by the Woburn is really as pleasing as its iconic styling. The volumes go unbelievably high, but there is no trace of distortion, and the capability to tweak the bass and treble levels is welcome. Actually, anyone who likes big bass will love the Woburn, which manages to provide reams of low-frequency response without muddying the midrange. It’s a clean, detailed and dynamic, yet warm sound.
However, here are a few quirks. The Woburn appears enthusiastic about high volumes; we discovered that it had been impossible to obtain it down to an extremely quiet volume for hearing at night. That is clearly a lifestyle thing, but personally, that puts us off. Also, while hearing an internet radio station, if you tend to assign it to a clear preset via the Multi-Room app, the Woburn plays an instant guitar riff before ceasing streaming. More bugs.
As a pure multi-room system, after that it worked reasonably well. Hooked-up to both other speakers in the collection, Acton and Stanmore, we’d Bjork’s Utopia album playing in perfect sync in three rooms.
The Marshall Multi-Room software is pretty straightforward; each ‘zone’ speaker could be toggled to ‘single’ or ‘multi’, so it is simple to see which speaker is live and playing.
However, controlling everything isn’t as easy as on a the Sonos app. You can’t cue-up songs, and the impressive versatility across devices and different applications does cause a slightly disjointed user experience.
Apart from having Apple AirPlay, Spotify Connect and ChromeCast built-in, and its own excellent all-round sound quality, the brass knobs along with the Woburn are its stylistic highlight.
And also making the entire design more convincing, it creates fine tuning of the machine much easier. In addition, it creates ways to quickly turn the music right down to answer leading door, or the telephone (particularly because the Woburn keeps on playing music if a call is received), which not absolutely all multi-room speaker designers think about.
It’s also great that you could have several devices from the Woburn simultaneously; while someone gets the multi-room set-up, another source could be linked by AirPlay, and another through the aux input.
We don’t mind having less a remote control, however the application used to regulate the Woburn is just a little fussy and buggy. It requires streamlining, and we’re not convinced that hiving-off the original set-up to the Google Home iphone app is a fantastic show of confidence for the reason that app.
Overall, it took many programs to set-up and use what is very a simple wireless speaker.
Do you want a radio speaker appears like a guitar practice amp? Perchance you do, and though there is no doubt that Marshall speaker is incredibly iconic-looking.
But would you like three, 4 or 5 of them at home? We’re uncertain about that.
Lucky, then, that the Woburn works equally well, if not better, as a stand-alone wireless speaker for AirPlay and ChromeCast. The incredible volumes are overkill, but there is no doubting the depth and quality of its sound.