A newcomer to Marshall’s catalogue, the Middleton sits at the top of the portable range, alongside the Marshall Willen and Marshall Emberton II. Bigger, more expensive, the Middleton inherits the manufacturer’s residential speaker acoustic solutions, in this case using tweeters to fine-tune high-frequency reproduction, as well as bi-amplification to play louder. As the sunny days loom, the Marshall Middleton plans to compete with the Sony SRS-XG300 and JBL Xtreme 3 in the game of the best Bluetooth speaker to take to the grass or to the water’s edge.
Marshall MiddletonTechnical paper
This test was performed with a speaker loaned by the manufacturer.
Recognizable at first glance, the Marshall Middleton is dressed in the finery specific to the manufacturer’s loudspeakers. There’s the wide front grille, with the typical metal mesh, flanked by the gold Marshall logo. The Middleton is covered in a carbon black silicone shell, as elegant as it is practical as it absorbs shocks during handling and prevents the transmission of vibrations from the speaker to the surface it sits on.
The control buttons are mounted on top and for the most part hidden under the silicone housing. On the left are the Bluetooth pairing and battery status buttons, while on the right are the tone (bass/treble) buttons. In the center is a gold aluminum navigation button, brass-like, that lets you turn the speaker on and off, change tracks, and pause playback.
On the back are the USB-C port for charging the battery or a mobile device, as well as the analog line input in 3.5 mm mini-jack format. The latter makes it possible to use the headphone output of a smartphone or a Walkman, if you do not want to use the Bluetooth connection.
Top quality assembly
The Marshall Middleton is remarkably assembled and the disassembly reveals a rigorous internal architecture. The structure of the speaker is ultra-rigid, thanks to multiple parts, tightly bolted and sealed together by silicone gaskets. The density of the Marshall (IP67) is for this price and so are its acoustic qualities. Battery and amplification are housed in compartments isolated from the acoustic load, in the upper parts for the electronics and in the lower parts for the battery. As a sign of care, the top cover is sealed with silicone crown screws. Clean we tell you.
The Marshall has six transducers, installed on the front, rear and sides and protected by solid acoustic grilles. We will discuss later the nature of these transducers, which are installed in an atypical way to disperse the sound 360°.
Marshall MiddletonUse and application
Despite its eight hundred kilograms, the Marshall Middleton is not difficult to handle, thanks to its grippy coating and carrying strap. Although it measures approximately 23x10x10 cm, it easily slips into a small backpack. Another positive point, the case is very stable and is not afraid of shocks.
When the speaker is on, it plays a little guitar riff and the LEDs light up to indicate the battery charge status. The control knobs are easy to operate and the ability to change the tone directly from the cabinet is handy.
The Marshall Bluetooth app also adopts this equalization feature, offering to combine two speakers to broadcast the same music program.
The Marshall Middleton has a Bluetooth 5.1 controller that is compatible with the SBC audio codec and multipoint connection. This allows two sources to use the speaker sequentially, without having to disconnect one to use the other. Bluetooth reception works well after verification through a thin wall and up to 10 meters away.
The Marshall Middleton is equipped with six speakers, including two passive radiators. An acoustic solution now common in mobile loudspeakers, which, thanks to their small size and therefore low volume of internal air, are able to reproduce more low frequencies thanks to passive radiators. These are driven in their excursions by the active transducers whose performance they enhance.
By opening the Middleton we discover that the main speakers (the ones that cover the most frequencies) are housed in the sides of the housing and thus do not send sound directly to the listener, but on the sides. It is surprising that it has always been good practice in acoustics to point the transducers towards the listener. Is it difficult to listen? Not really, as the tweeters are each installed on the front and back of the case. So whether you are placed in front of or behind the Middleton, you immediately perceive a lot of information from the middle and high registers.
In principle, it is a good idea to install transducers on each side, as this creates a circular sound that is very useful outdoors. In the middle of a picnic tablecloth, between two beach towels or lounge chairs, this speaker will deliver the same sound to every listener.
In the Marshall Middleton we have:
- 2 bass-midrange speakers with a diameter of 8 cm (with 2 × 20 W amplification)
- 2 cloth dome tweeters with a diameter of 15 mm (with 2 × 10 W amplification)
- 2 passive radiators of 10×8 cm
The Marshall Emberton has been tested indoors and outdoors with an Apple Music iPhone 13 Pro Max.
The sound of the Marshall Middleton is clear and powerful, without harshness or aggressiveness, with a nice spatial openness. The bass, robust and generous, gives the listener confidence: the loudspeaker always delivers a balanced and authoritative message. After measuring, we can confirm the frequency response communicated by Marshall, down to 50 Hz in the bass. In reality, this is the speaker’s natural crossover frequency, which continues to play loudly at 45 Hz, before fading below 40 Hz.
As is often the case with this type of compact speaker, Marshall has implemented active low-frequency equalization, the intensity of which decreases as volume increases. Up to 50% volume, the Middleton maintains its balance, and beyond that, the low frequencies are gradually reduced. However, thanks to its speakers and its amplification, the speaker does not weaken much and remains powerful in the bass.
The Marshall signature is present, but seems to have evolved compared to the manufacturer’s previous models, with a better distributed energy and less centered on the medium. The Middleton is therefore balanced and projects the sound more than it spreads at 100% of its volume. It then produces almost 90 decibels of intensity, in the mid frequencies (at 1 meter). With such a volume, using the Middleton outside is comfortable, even in a busy environment.
In short, the signature Marshall Middleton is characterized by a deep and solid low end, an appropriately defined mid-range and an energetic and silky high end. The tonal corrections offered by the speaker make it possible to validly modify the signature.
Scene and dynamic behavior
Since the Marshall Middleton shoots in all directions, the spatialization is unconventional. However, since the main speakers are housed on the sides, the stereo is correctly marked. Only the high frequencies are not diffused left and right, but front and back. It’s really not annoying, and on the contrary, it gives the sound a nice depth and very little directivity.
Everything is fine on the dynamic side. At low volume, the Middleton plays quietly but without laziness: it pulsates softly, so to speak, with equal energy across the entire spectrum. The amplification respects the nuances of the music.
No microphone on the Marshall Middleton, so audio calls are not possible. The speaker is designed exclusively for listening to music.
At 50% volume, the Marshall Middleton lasted just under 11 hours in this test. This is almost half of the 20 hours announced by Marshall, who, however, does not specify what volume was used for his measurement, or whether line input was preferred over Bluetooth. To achieve this autonomy from the manufacturer, it will be necessary to go below 30% of the volume, because then, according to my measurements, the amplification consumes three times less energy. We then get a sound volume of more than 70 dB, which is already quite loud.
Marshall MiddletonPrice and release date
The Marshall Middleton is available in black and brass for €299. Its direct competitors are the Sony SRS-XG300 – less balanced and generous – and the JBL Xtreme 3, more powerful and sharper. The Middleton plays a little less loudly than the JBL, marks the times in terms of dynamics, but the performance-to-size ratio is better and the 360° distribution is a real asset.
Where to buy
Marshall Middleton for the best price?