Marshall Acton III review: a small but mighty home speaker

The Marshall Acton III is properly powerful, especially considering its size, and it looks like a miniature amplifier

Marshall Acton III review: speaker on bedsidee shelf
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

The Marshall Acton III is a small and very stylish home speaker with surprisingly big sound. There aren't tonnes of features because its whole focus is on the music, and that's what matters the most.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Retro Marshall design

  • +

    Manual equaliser settings

  • +

    Powerful sound

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    No Wi-Fi connectivity

  • -

    Lacks voice control

Why you can trust T3 Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

To sum up this Marshall Acton III review: this tiny home speaker will surprise you with brilliantly powerful sound and it looks really cool with its vintage style - that’s really all you need to know. 

One of the most iconic audio brands ever, Marshall’s success all really started with their amplifiers, which have been a top choice for musicians the world over for decades. 

In 2022, Marshall hasn’t forgotten its rock n’ roll heritage, and you can see that retro look and feel in all of its devices be that one of the best Bluetooth speakers or even a pair of the best true wireless earbuds

Here you can find out everything you really need to know before you go out and buy the Marshall Acton III. I’ve been trying it out, and these are my thoughts on its design, setup, performance and features. 

Marshall Acton III review: price and what’s new 

You can buy the Marshall Acton III now for $280 in the US, £240 in the UK and AU$376 in Australia - the widgets on this page show you where you’ll find the best deals on it from across the web right now.

While at first glance the Marshall Acton III might look almost identical to the Marshall Acton II, there are actually a few differences worth knowing about. 

First and foremost, the sound has been upgraded with new Dynamic Loudness which adjusts the equaliser as you ramp up the volume, they’ve also added a track forward/backwards button as well as the latest version of Bluetooth (v5.2). Another new feature is Placement Compensation available through the Marshall Bluetooth smartphone app.

Marshall Acton III review: design and setup 

Marshall Acton III review: retro speaker on red shelf

(Image credit: Future)

This little home speaker echoes the design of iconic Marshall amplifiers from the late ’60s but it packs some of the latest in 21st-century technology. There’s no denying how cool it looks - the body of the speaker is covered in a vegan leather type of material, with a grey mesh grille across the front and a gold Marshall logo sprawled across the front. 

You can buy the Marshall Acton III in three different colours so it's easy to match it to your home decor, there’s the choice of black, cream or brown. I tried out the black version and I have to say, it looked really cool wherever I put it in my home. 

Along the top, it has a gold brushed metal panel with three knobs to adjust the volume, bass and treble as well as a power switch and a toggle that you push down to pause the music, or across to skip forwards or backwards through tracks. 

On the far left of the panel, there are two LED lights to let you know which input source you’re using, and a 3.5mm audio input to plug your devices in using a wire.  Next to that, there's a little button to switch between inputs. 

Marshall Acton III review: brushed metal panel on speaker with control knobs

(Image credit: Future)

Despite its size, this is a home speaker, not a portable speaker because it doesn’t have a built-in battery. Measuring 260 x 170 x 150 mm, it’ll fit on a small side table or shelf and if you did want to move it around that’s perfectly possible because it only weighs 2.85kg. There’s even a small handle inside the back panel to help you position it. 

The only downside to the design is that it's not water-resistant so you'll need to make sure you put it somewhere away from any risk of spills or splashes.

Setting it up couldn't be simpler, you just need to plug it in and connect your phone to it through your Bluetooth settings. You can also connect to the speaker using a 3.5mm audio cable although you will need to buy your own because there isn't one included in the box. 

To make the most of it, and to download firmware updates, you’ll need to download the Marshall Bluetooth app which is available for both iOS and Android

Marshall Acton III review: performance and features 

Marshall Acton III review: speaker head on sat on red shelf

(Image credit: Future)

For something so small, the sound packs a serious punch and the volumes it's able to reach pleasantly surprised me, it carries well through even larger rooms which means you could easily use this to soundtrack a party. 

As you’d expect from Marshall, the audio is perfectly tuned for rock music which means there’s a wide soundstage letting you hear every instrument with plenty of force without drowning out the vocals. The tweeters are angled outwards which is what makes that possible.

In Paint It Black by the Rolling Stones, the guitar twangs were just as clear as each bang of the drum and every crash of a cymbal, while Mick Jagger’s growling lyrics were balanced through it all. 

Not everyone will want such a bass-heavy sound, especially if you’re someone who is more into calm classical music or clear-cut podcasts. But thanks to the bass and treble equaliser in the app and on the device itself, you can dial it down quite significantly which makes this quite a versatile piece of kit too. 

This isn’t a speaker that is jam-packed full of a million different features. In actual fact, it keeps things pretty simple, focusing almost entirely on the music. There’s no voice control or Wi-Fi connectivity which means there’s no multiroom or any fancy thrills like that.

One thing it can do is adjust the sound depending on the placement of the speaker in your home. You open the app and choose Placement Compensation, which then lays out questions about whether the speaker is close to an edge or not and whether it’s close to a wall or placed in a corner. The speaker will do the rest, giving you the best audio experience possible for where you plan to keep it.

Marshall claims the Bluetooth 5.2 range here is 10m, and that seemed to ring true during my testing. I could walk into the next room with my phone in hand and the music would carry on without dropping out at all. 

Marshall Acton III review: verdict 

Marshall Acton III review: speaker on white background

(Image credit: Marshall)

A wicked little device with seriously cool styling, the Marshall Acton III is small but mighty. When you take it out the box, you wouldn’t expect it to be anywhere near as powerful as it actually is. 

Granted, some people will want a lot more in the way of features for this price, but I personally didn’t mind because it means Marshall has put every effort into make this speaker sound as good as it possibly can instead of delivering a long list of unnecessary extras. 

Marshall Acton III review: also consider  

If you want an even more powerful home speaker, then take a look at the Marshall Stanmore III instead. You get the same sort of design but in a much bulkier speaker, which also means it’s much more powerful, although naturally there’s a higher price tag to match. 

The Marshall Acton III isn’t capable of multiroom and it’s not portable either, if you do want both of those to be an option, then it might be worth considering something like the Audio Pro A15. Not only can you hook it up to the Audio Pro multiroom app but it works with both the Google Home and Apple Home apps. 

Yasmine Crossland
Freelance Tech Expert

Yasmine is the former Reviews Writer for T3, so she's been knee-deep in the latest tech products for reviewing and curating into the best buying guides since she started in 2019. She keeps a finger on the pulse when it comes to the most exciting and innovative tech and is happy to tell you exactly what she thinks about it too. In her free time, you'll catch her travelling the globe – the perks of being a freelance tech expert – tending to her plants when at home and, but of course, planning her next big trip.