Delivers a Mind-Blowing Auditory Feast

– Surprisingly powerful sound for its size
– Bass will take you by surprise
– Wide soundstage
– Included strap makes it easier to lug around
– AUX input
– Sturdy design with water-resistance and dustproof with IP67 rating
– Premium design
– Easy to use, clutter-free app
– Super easy to set up and tweak basic bass and treble setting
– Can be used as a power bank in emergencies

– Price
– Supports a very basic codec
– No Wi-Fi support
– Heavy for a portable speaker
– Silicon cover attracts a lot of dust
– Takes a long time to charge

Price: Rs 31,999
Rating: 4.5/5

There is a reason why some of the most seasoned musicians on the planet swear by the amps that Marshall makes — even though they have evolved into a lifestyle brand now, they do know what they are doing when it comes to audio products. A case in point would be the Marshall Middleton Bluetooth speakers.

The Middleton is one of the most solid, well-balanced speakers that money can buy today. It sounds phenomenal no matter what genre of music you’re into. It has a solid treble performance, and despite its size, it packs a serious punch when it comes to base. It is also extremely easy to set up and use. Plus, it is built like a tank and has a retro vibe to its design that makes it a great fit for almost all living rooms.

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Image Credit: MrFactBook | Mehul Reuben Das

Retailing for around Rs 30,000-32,000, it sure is expensive. But if like me, you have been exploring the premium audio product market for some time, you must have realised that all premium audio equipment makers — Bose, Sonos, Klipsch — charge a premium for their offering. Even Sony charges a premium for some of their better home audio solutions.

So, does the Marshall Middleton, at Rs 31,999, warrant your attention, or is it too expensive to be given any serious thought? We find out.

Marshall Middleton Bluetooth Speaker Review: Build quality and design
Marshall’s Middleton has a lot of similarities with the smaller Emberton when it comes to its basic design except for the fact that it is a bit beefier and bigger. Having said that, its boxy rectangular shape and hefty weight of 1.8 kilograms it stays rock solid no matter when you put it. The speaker is also tough enough to take a few knocks here and there, without any worries. Even though the speaker’s casing is mainly made out of plastic, it has leather-textured silicon casing all around, which makes the speaker feel much premium. For colours, you get two options — Black and Brass, and Cream.

Despite its fairly small size, carrying it around might not be the easiest, mainly because of its weight. However, you get a detachable carry strap included with the box, which helps manage the weight, making it more bearable. It can also easily fit into your bag, and can be carried around.

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Image Credit: MrFactBook | Mehul Reuben Das

Coming to the controls, on the top panel, you get a bunch of physical controls. There’s also a cool-looking brass knob at the centre which has a number of functions, depending on how you interact with it — holding it for a couple of seconds powers on or off the device; nudging it to the right or left skips tracks; You can even hold it down to fast forward or rewind. And if you move it up or down, you can tweak the volume.

Besides the know, you get two separate physical buttons that control the bass and treble, so you can dial in the speaker to get that “perfect sound.” You also get there’s this nifty red LED display towards the left side of the panel, which shows you the current level of battery, treble, bass, and volume on a scale from 1 to 10. And if you crank it up to the max, it gives you a heads-up with an audio cue. Over on the far left, you’ve got a Bluetooth pairing button and a battery indicator button.

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Image Credit: MrFactBook | Mehul Reuben Das

While the design looks really cool and retro, the legends and the markings of the buttons can be a bit difficult to read. Although this adds to the aesthetic of the speaker, it does make operating the speaker a bit challenging in dimly lit environments.

We also found the brass control knob particularly finicky at times, as it’s tricky to press directly down without inadvertently nudging it to the side. This often resulted in accidentally skipping tracks instead of pausing them.

At the front, we see a metallic grille which features a crisscrossing pattern and the golden-coloured Marshall logo. The grille is golden in colour if you’re getting the Cream coloured version, whereas in the Black and Brass version, it is a clean and aesthetic-looking black.

The rear and side panels are basically grills made up of a perforated pattern, which cover a single tweeter and a passive radiator, while the woofers emit sound from the sides. The front and rear panels handle the right and left audio channels, respectively, with support from the corresponding woofers.

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Image Credit: MrFactBook | Mehul Reuben Das

Despite the absence of covers for the USB-C and 3.5mm minijack connectors, the Middleton boasts an IP67 rating, ensuring its resilience even when fully submerged in half a meter of water for up to 30 minutes.

Marshall Middleton Bluetooth Speaker Review: Functionality & Software
Pairing the Marshall Middleton with your smartphone or computer is a breeze, just as you’d expect with a Bluetooth speaker. Inside the box, you’ll find a USB-A to USB-C cable but no power brick, unfortunately. You also get the detachable strap and user manual.

If you’re familiar with Marshall’s audio devices and their app, you’ll know they don’t come with unnecessary junk as they have a tendency to keep things simple and not faff around.

While most speakers offer users a plethora of ways to customise the sound signature, and really play with the equalisers and sound profile, the Middleton keeps it simple. You are allowed to tweak the bass and treble with the button on the top of the speaker, but that’s about it. Alternatively, you can use the app for a more refined control.

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Image Credit: MrFactBook | Mehul Reuben Das

Like many Bluetooth speakers nowadays, the Marshall Middleton comes with a companion app which is available for both iOS and Android. You get some pretty nifty features through the app, like controlling the volume bass and treble EQ sliders. And you get Marshall’s “Stack” mode, which allows you to link multiple Middleton speakers together and create a wider, larger sound stage. But that’s about it. The app is user-friendly and thankfully doesn’t overwhelm you with unnecessary features.

One thing that we have to talk about is standout is the Middleton’s multi-host functionality, which allows you to connect the Middleton to two devices simultaneously. After some experimentation and reading through the instructions, I discovered that this means you can connect the speaker to two different devices at once.

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Image Credit: MrFactBook | Mehul Reuben Das

Marshall Middleton Bluetooth Speaker Review: Audio
For the purpose of this review, we used the Middleton after pairing with an iPhone. For music, we mainly stuck to YouTube and Spotify. We streamed Netflix for OTT content. We also did not tweak any of the equaliser settings in Spotify.

Throughout the test, we had the bass and treble at their default settings which is around 5 and found that the Middleton’s sound out of the box suits most genres perfectly well. It was almost fantastic throughout our tests.

The speaker gets pretty loud considering the you get some really solid specs, but what really stands out is the bass. Normally, you would expect portable speakers of this size to mess up the lower frequencies, but boy were we surprised by the way it handled bass in some of our favourite tracks.

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Image Credit: MrFactBook | Mehul Reuben Das

Hardware-wise, we get four amplifiers, driving dual 3.0-inch, 15W woofers and dual 0.6-inch, 10W tweeters. All put together, they deliver sound at an impressive frequency range of 50Hz to 20KHz.

What’s more is that even at its maximum volume, the Middleton maintains a balanced sound, and does not crack that easily. It handled bass-heavy tracks like “Lemonade” by Diljit Dosanjh or The Weeknd’s “Starboy” with great finesse.

And for tracks where the bass takes a back seat, like Passenger’s “Holes” or a bunch of vocal-heavy songs by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, the Middleton’s overall sound signature truly shines. The vocals especially struck a perfect balance between rich low-mids and crisp high-mids. The vocals come through clear and robust, with no discernible gaps in frequencies or muddiness in the sound.

Plus, instrument separation also sounded solid. Each instrument stands out distinctly without overlapping, showcasing excellent clarity overall. You’ll catch every detail in the music you stream through the Middleton, even though it supports only the basic SBC codec. The only way we know that is not because of how it sounds, but because of its spec sheet.

When listening to a rock song, you’ll feel the thump of the bass drum and bass guitar, along with a crisp and clear vocal range, and the guitar solo pops exactly when it should. However, other elements like the rhythm guitar, keys, and hi-hats might blend into an indistinct background noise.

And then, when we turned down the volume, we found that the bass doesn’t fade away something which we have seen much larger and much more expensive speakers struggle with. At normal listening levels, there’s absolutely no distortion, Moreover, during a leisurely listening session, when we were just playing some tunes, without focusing on evaluating it really, we never had the urge to crank up the volume to the maximum.

Now, due to its compact size, the Middleton can’t really replicate the sub-bass produced by larger speakers. Having said that, it has a very balanced profile which makes it more versatile.

Marshall Middleton Bluetooth Speaker Review: Battery life
Although Marshall claim that the Middleton gets over 20 hours of battery life, we could manage about 12-13 hours at best, which for us was about a week’s worth of use for. Having said that, it’s important to note that your mileage may vary depending on your usage and settings.

When it comes to charging, the speaker charges up pretty quickly thanks to the USB-C port. You can also use the speaker as a power bank for your phone in case of emergencies. Do note that charging the speakers does take a long time, about 4-4.5 hours. A quick 20 min charge though will have you set for about an hour and a half.

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Image Credit: MrFactBook | Mehul Reuben Das

For those who want to maximize battery life, the Middleton also offers the option to connect a laptop or a mobile via the 3.5mm audio jack located next to the charging port.

Marshall Middleton Bluetooth Speaker Review: Verdict
Priced at around Rs 32,000, the Marshall definitely is expensive for a lot of people looking for a portable BlueTooth speaker. Having said that, people who can splurge that kind of money, should surely consider this. For people who are already tuned into Marshall’s ecosystem, this is a no-brainer. Hands down, this is one of the best speakers we have tested at this price point, and is actually marginally better than some of the other, more expensive ones that we have heard.

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Image Credit: MrFactBook | Mehul Reuben Das

The Marshall Middleton delivers a solid mix of features and impressive audio quality, which makes it a great choice for people who are looking for an excellent audio experience. The speaker oozes quality and justifies the Marshall premium that customers are being charged, thanks to outstanding sound performance across various music genres.

However, it’s not without its drawbacks. At this price point, we should be seeing support for more audio codecs. Plus, how did Marshall miss out on Wi-Fi is beyond us. And you really are paying a premium here. But then almost all good, premium audio equipment makers charge a premium.

Despite these shortcomings, the speaker provides good value for the money in our books, especially if you start looking at it like a home decor piece that has some great functionality to it. Its rugged, textured silicone coating adds to its durability, offering a grippy surface that can withstand falls. This robust build, combined with its aesthetic appeal, makes it a stylish and functional addition to any living room.

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