Marshall Woburn II review

All the way to 11

TODO alt text

Our Verdict

The Marshall Woburn II is a beast of a speaker, with room shaking sound and an authentic rocking design.

For

  • Great stack-aping look
  • Super loud
  • Punchy audio

Against

  • Lacks Wi-Fi options
  • No ‘smart’ features

For a few years now the Marshall brand has been branching out away from its live amp gig gear and studio comfort zone, and into the home speaker space with its Acton, Stanmore and Woburn speakers, and its Marshall Major headphones. But it’s only now with the Marshall Woburn II that the company has really delivered on the ear-splitting promise of its hard-rocking heritage.

Big, bold and “all-the-way-to-11” loud, the Marshall Woburn II is a great-looking speaker that is well equipped for most musical styles, and ferocious when paired with your scuzzier tunes.

Price and availability

The Marshall Woburn II is priced at $499 / £439, which is somewhere in the region of AU$800. That’s a significant chunk of change (especially in the UK where the Pound is particularly weak), and also expensive when you note that there’s no smart helper, like Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, built in.

What you do get though is that iconic design, and an incredibly powerful speaker – crank this one all the way up and you won’t need separate speakers for each room; even your neighbours down the block will hear it.

Design

Ever donned a top hat and played air guitar to your favorite Guns N’ Roses song? Or hopped around the living room in your old school uniform like Angus Young? Pick up a Marshall Woburn II and complete the look – it’s a dead ringer for the brand’s iconic amplifiers.

About as heavy as a solid state practice amp and just as big, the Woburn II is an imposing sight compared to your usual loudspeaker. But that’s not to say it’s unattractive – far from it, with its leather-look cabinet and gold accents, raised off the ground on four sturdy feet.

A grey grille-pattern fabric covers the front speaker array, adorned with the recognisable Marshall badge in gold. Along the top you’ll find an inset control panel, also in gold, with dials to control volume, bass and treble independently, and a small toggle lever for power – all in keeping with the classic Marshall amp look.

Jumping between audio sources is handled by a small round source selector button, and there’s a similar pause/play button on the other end of the control panel, past the dials.

If you’ve an affinity for the Marshall brand and hard-rock look, you’ll love the Woburn II’s style. But it’s not exactly a quiet design (in all respects) so you may want to look elsewhere if you’re after an aesthetic that fades into the background – the Woburn II is screaming to be seen.

Connectivity and audio options

The Woburn II makes use of Bluetooth 5.0, which gave it solid connectivity to our mobile devices at all times, with the 10 metre range claim good by our estimations. The Bluetooth standard used here supports multi-host Bluetooth, letting you connect two devices at once, saving squabbles between friends over who gets to play what.

Other than that, you’ve got AUX In and AUX Out connections, and RCA connectivity if you’re looking to make the Woburn II part of a wider Hi-Fi system. At this price, it would be good to have seen some more smart features – multi-room support with the rest of Marshall's multi-room range would have been appreciated for instance, or Spotify Connect or AirPlay functionality, too.

It may not be to everyone’s taste but as a one-time budding guitar hero, I’d love to see the Marshall line offer a dedicated guitar input jack at some point too, if the engineering gods would allow it. Having a speaker that looks like this and could also play nicely with your own guitar shredding would be fantastic, and give a truly unique feature to brand’s Bluetooth line.

Performance

Whatever audio source you’re hooking up to the Woburn II, one thing’s for certain – this speaker goes insanely loud. Making use of two tweeters and dual 5.25-inch subwoofers, individually powered by class D amps, cranked up to its full 110 watt output power it could even be heard rumbling outside of TechRadar’s sound-proofed test room (apologies to those working nearby…)

But what’s volume without detail and clarity? Thankfully, even if that eardrum-melting output isn’t to your tastes, it’s hard to argue against the Woburn II’s sound. Making use of a revised DSP to maintain detail at even higher volumes, the Marshall Woburn (like its stablemates) still excels with rock music. But it’s surprisingly potent with other styles, too.

The moody dynamics of Led Zeppelin’s Dazed and Confused saw the speaker totally at home, rumbling through the opening bass and guitar harmonics before shattering that killer Jimmy Page riff. But it could be delicate too – there was a sweeping sense of height and width to the beautiful Judee Sill song The Kiss, its delicate piano lines and doubled vocals crisply being delivered. And, when challenged with some electronic music, it proved itself a party starter – MSTRKRFT’s It Aint Love, with its runaway arpeggios and robotic bass line, felt like there was a crooning Transformer in the room. 

Verdict

With a design that makes full use of the brand's iconic aesthetic, and a power and clarity that other Bluetooth speakers would be hard-pressed to meet, the Marshall Woburn II is a great buy, so long as you value volume and style over smart connectivity options.

It's expensive though, and you're approaching true audiophile territory with the price tag. So before slapping down your album advance on the Woburn II, consider whether or not you'd be better suited to starting a multi-room set with something like the Sonos Play:5, or an ear-caressing audiophile option such as the similarly stack-like Audio Pro Drumfire. And be sure to factor in the price of a pair of ear defenders if you're going to go all the way up to 11.