Marshall Middleton review: classic looks and great sound

Marshall's speaker is a hefty success

Marshall Middleton review 1
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

The Marshall Middleton is a great wireless speaker, although it's a tad too heavy. Its sound, though, is extremely solid, and its design has a classy, classic leaning.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Good sound

  • +

    Solid battery life

  • +

    Useful controls

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    It's pretty heavy

  • -

    Doesn't present amazing value

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There's something enduringly iconic about the Marshall logo in front of a metal grille – decades of musical history come right out of the seams when you look at it. Whether on-stage monitors, or portable Bluetooth kit – like the Middleton on review here – it resonates with many.

While Marshall has also become a great option if you're looking for some of the best wireless earbuds, its speakers are always exciting to test. The Middleton – a chunky Bluetooth speaker that looks superb on the shelf – is no exception for those hunting out a classically designed portable. 

Marshall Middleton: Price & availability

The Middleton is available now in both the UK and US – it's priced at £270 or $300 respectively. In Australia, it's on the market at $405. 

Having launched initially in just black, you can also now pick up the cream version, as tested and photographed here, with just those two options to pick from. 

That pricing puts it at the top-end of Marshall's portable speaker lineup, with a couple of older options like the Kilburn II and Tufton still slightly more expensive – but also a good chunk bigger. 

Marshall Middleton review: Features & design

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(Image credit: Future)

Marshall's design language has been around for decades, and won't be changing any time soon, so you probably either know it and like it – or don't. 

It's all about speaker grilles and that cursive logo, and in the Middleton's case that accounts for the front of the speaker. The body is made up of sturdy soft-touch plastic that has a sort of leatherette finish, another staple for Marshall.

The sides and back of the speaker are full of holes to let its sound free, although it's not a 360-degree soundstage by any means. 

On the top, meanwhile, there's an array of controls including a central brassy knob for turning the speaker on and off, skipping tracks or changing the volume, and some shallow buttons to let you connect to devices and check battery life. There are also adjustment options right there for both bass and treble levels. 

Some LED lights indicate battery and volume levels depending on context, and there's a well-made slot on one end that can house the included carrying loop for easier transport. 

Everything is substantial and well-made, which means it feels really premium in the hand, but there's no mistaking the fact that this speaker weighs 1.8kg. That means that the Middleton is quite a burden in a backpack – heavier than many of the best lightweight laptops – and a bit more of a consideration when packing for a picnic compared to something like the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3.

Marshall Middleton review 5

(Image credit: Future)

We love the look and feel of the Middleton, but this weight ended up being just a little too much, making it hard to use in a really off-the-cuff way. Its IP67 water and dust resistance meant the outdoors won't hold any real threat, though. 

With 20 hours of battery life promised (and delivered on in our testing), you can get a good chunk of listening done on a single charge, though. It takes around 4.5 hours to charge up to full again via USB-C, though, which is in no way quick.

Bluetooth is your only wireless connectivity option here, but it was steady and held its connection well in our experience. Still, at this price, we'd love to see Wi-Fi added to the Middleton, since this would make it a way more adaptable speaker for home use. There's a 3.5mm jack for those who still want the fallback of wired play. 

The Marshall app, finally, offers some welcome controls including EQ customisation, and while it won't change how you use the speaker, it's a solid enough companion app experience. 

Marshall Middleton review: Performance

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(Image credit: Future)

Marshall is known for its booming sound, and the Middleton certainly delivers on that front, with its size and weight translating to some serious volume potential.

As you'd hope, this volume doesn't come with tradeoffs around distortion, so you'll get impressively clear audio – even when you're cranking out antisocial levels of noise. 

Being able to adjust bass and treble levels right there on the speaker is really nice, too – it means that you're much more likely to actually do so to suit either the music you've picked or the situation you're in, whereas having these controls buried in an app alone doesn't do the same. 

In theory, you can also stack Middleton units on top of each other to create an old-school Marshall speaker tower, too, with synced audio, although we weren't able to test this with just a single unit in for this review. 

Listening to the Middleton and it scores well, with clean audio and powerful bass. It might have been expected to struggle with the more delicate sections of Taylor Swift's Tortured Poets Department, but, in reality, held up really well.

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(Image credit: Future)

When we turned on some old Queens of the Stone Age to see how it did with rock, though, we were greeted by far more predictable excellence – a really weighty and chunky rendering. 

The Middleton is technically directional in its speaker design, so you do get the best sound if you're in front of its grille, but we were actually also impressed by its ability to fill space to the sides too. 

With a frequency response that can go from 50Hz-20,000Hz, you'll get great range, so it's for an outdoor party or session in the park (so long as people around you are equally into your playlist). 

If that all sounds like the Middleton is a bass-heavy boomer, though, it's important to say that it also does well at the higher-end of the spectrum too. While it might not be the perfect pairing even with something like classical music, that's not to say it can't take a creditable try at it. 

Marshall Middleton review: Verdict

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(Image credit: Future)

The Marshall Middleton is a really solid portable Bluetooth speaker, in more than one sense of the word. It's simple and easy to use, sounds impressive in almost every setting, and we love its aesthetic.

That said, though, it's also inescapably heavy and lacks a few features that we'd love to see given its price – particularly Wi-Fi connectivity. 

If you love the Marshall aesthetic and vibe, want powerful portable sound, then don't hold back – the Middleton should be right up your street. 

Also consider

If you're particularly taken with the look of a Marshall speaker but a little put off by the sheer weight of the Middleton, you could do a lot worse than checking out the Emberton II. It's very similar, but smaller, lighter and cheaper. 

Alternatively, JBL's Charge 5 Wi-Fi is less pretty to look at, but is more rugged, and has the huge benefit of Wi-Fi connectivity – making it way far more useful if you're not out and about. 

Max Freeman-Mills

Max is a freelance writer with years of experience in tech and entertainment. He's also a gaming expert, both with the games themselves and in testing accessories and consoles, having flexed that expertise at Pocket-lint as a features editor. He has tested all manner of tech too, from headphones and speakers to apps and software.