This Marshall Stanmore III review is all about the combination of style and superb sound - it’s what Marshall is known for, and has been known for since the 1960’s when it was first founded with the launch of its very first amplifier.
I’ve previously loved using the Marshall Stanmore II, so I was looking forwards to giving the third generation a test run. It’s safe to say that I wasn’t disappointed, it may not be packed full of top-tier features, but what it does do it does very well.
There’s no battery built-in, so if you want something portable then take a look at the best Bluetooth speakers or if it’s multiroom you’re after then take a look at the best wireless speakers instead because this speaker doesn't do that either.
In this Marshall Stanmore III review, you’ll be able to find out everything you need to know about this wired Bluetooth speaker from my take on its design and setup to its performance and features.
Marshall Stanmore III review: price and what’s new
You can buy the Marshall Stanmore III now for £330 in the UK and AU$570 in Australia. Take a look at the widgets on this page to find out where you can pick one up.
As you might have guessed from the name, this is the third instalment of the Marshall Stanmore series, there aren’t actually loads of differences between this and the last one but the Marshall Stanmore III definitely has some upgrades worth knowing about.
Firstly, there’s a new skip track button to go alongside the pause/play button as well as a new design for the power switch. Bluetooth has also been improved to version 5.2 where it was version 5.0 before, and the sound has been enhanced as well with a wider soundstage.
Marshall Stanmore III review: design and setup
With Marshall’s iconic rock n’ roll design, the Marshall Stanmore III looks like a small amplifier with a metal grille across the front, leather around the edges and a gold brushed metal panel across the top with knobs to control the volume, bass and treble. The classic Marshall logo is written in gold cursive across the front of the speaker so you can’t mistake it for anything else. All in all, this speaker looks really cool.
A pretty hefty device, you will need plenty of room for it though, it measures 350 x 203 x 188 mm and weighs about 4.25kg so this isn’t a speaker you’ll be moving around all the time. You’ll need a decent-sized side table or shelf to keep it on, and despite the power cable being relatively long, it’ll still need to be placed near a wall socket as there's no battery built-in.
The build feels very well constructed and durable, and this time around it was made using 70% recycled plastic and only vegan materials. But it’s not water resistant so you’ll need to be careful of spilt drinks which could ruin it.
The power cable plugs into the plastic panel on the back, where you’ll also find the RCA inputs. The 3.5mm audio port is found on the far left of the top panel, next to the button to switch between input methods.
You’ll also be able to use the small switch on the top to pause or play the music, and you can push it to either side to skip forwards or backwards through tracks. Having this much control so easily accessible is very convenient because you won’t need to reach for your phone at all. Three easy-to-use knobs make adjusting the sound super simple as well, you don’t even need to open up the app to make your music sound exactly how you want it to.
Setting up the speaker is just as straightforward. Just plug it in and switch it to Bluetooth mode, you’ll automatically receive a pop-up notification on your phone prompting you to connect. You’ll be asked to download the app which will give you access to the speaker’s full suite of features, once that's installed you’ll be ready to go.
Marshall Stanmore III review: performance and features
Packing one 50W amplifier for the woofer and two 15W amplifiers for the tweeters, Marshall’s iconic style is paired with equally iconic sound. The soundstage has been boosted from the previous generation and you can hear the difference, it sounds richer and even more full of depth.
There’s tonnes of power behind it too, easily filling up the room with music and then some. Dynamic Loudness is a feature built-in that “adjusts the tonal balance of the sound to ensure your music sounds brilliant at every volume” and you can definitely hear that in action as you dial the sound all the way up because you don’t lose out at all on detail.
Naturally, the default tuning is best suited to rock music, that’s where Marshall’s foundations lie after all. Each guitar twang and bang of a drum makes you feel completely immersed in the song especially when you crank the volume up.
Where I really noticed the difference in the sound was listening to podcasts and hooking it up to the TV. I found the Marshall Stanmore II made it difficult to listen to spoken word as it lacked clarity but this time around, I had much fewer issues understanding what was being said. Although, of course, you are still better off listening to that sort of content on a soundbar.
As I’ve mentioned, there are two ways to customise the audio. You can either use the knobs on the control panel, or you can use the Marshall Bluetooth smartphone app which is available for both iOS and Android. You get full control over the bass and treble. Admittedly, some options offer even more detailed control across a three or even a five band equaliser but if you’re not an audiophile then those two are sure to be enough.
Stripped back in terms of features, you won’t get many fancy extras here. There’s no voice control through Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, no Wi-Fi connectivity and so no multiroom functionality. You do get three ways to connect though, including a 3.5mm audio input, RCA and Bluetooth 5.2.
The Bluetooth is very reliable, I could take my smartphone into another room without the music cutting out, and my phone automatically connected almost instantaneously every time I switched it on.
One really handy feature it does have is Placement Compensation. You need to tick a few boxes to describe where in the room it is, i.e. is it close to an edge or is it near a wall, then the app will use that information to optimise the sound accordingly.
Marshall Stanmore III review: verdict
Whether the Marshall Stanmore III is the right choice for you or not will depend largely on what you need from a wireless speaker. If you want something that will look really cool and sound fantastic with loads of power then this will be perfect, but if you’re looking for advanced smarts like voice control and multiroom then you won’t get either of those and you’re better off looking elsewhere.
If you’re considering upgrading it from the second generation, I wouldn't because it’s just not different enough to be worthwhile, but if you’re buying it for the first time then it has been improved enough to spend the extra cash.
Marshall Stanmore III review: also consider
If you do want a speaker capable of multiroom, then the Sonos Five is a better choice. It provides a clean, room-filling sound that you can stream directly through the likes of Spotify and Apple AirPlay 2. Granted, there’s still no voice control and it’s pretty pricey but you will be able to hook it up to all of your other compatible devices.
For voice control, the Amazon Echo Studio is a powerful speaker that gives you access to the Alexa assistant. It’s a great choice for those who listen to music exclusively through Amazon Music HD or Spotify and it’s also significantly cheaper than this, although the design isn’t quite as striking.