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From headphones to Bluetooth speakers, all of Marshall’s products are inspired by a guitar amp aesthetic, but its new Marshall Tufton Bluetooth Speaker looks like a genuine miniature amp. At $399 it’s priced like pro audio gear as well and is able to deliver very loud volumes with strong bass depth. Bass and treble knobs allow for some additional tailoring of the mix, though it would’ve been nice to see some onboard playback and track navigation controls. Generally speaking, this stylish rock star of a speaker delivers, but it feels a bit overpriced.
Design & Build Quality
The Marshall Tufton Bluetooth Speaker looks like a bigger, tougher version of Marshall Stockwell II, though the enclosure here features a grain leather patina that looks more amp-like. Available in black, the 13.8-by-9.0-by-6.4-inch (HWD) speaker weighs in at a formidable 10.8 pounds. While it has a sturdy, tough build, its IPX2 rating means the speaker can only withstand a light spray of water, so you definitely shouldn’t get it wet.
While the Tufton shares the same metallic mesh grille as the Stockwell II, there’s considerably more firepower here—dual 15-watt amps power the full-range drivers, and a 10-watt amp powers the tweeter. The back panel has a small perforated grille covering the 40-watt back-firing woofer. The drivers are apparently in a Blumlein stereo array, meaning they’re close together but angled in different directions, but with a frame this narrow, we didn’t notice much in the way of stereo separation.
Up top, the control panel houses three knobs. One acts as the power/volume control, and two are for adjusting bass and treble. There’s also a dedicated Bluetooth pairing button, which also acts as the source button for switching between paired devices and the aux input. To the right of the knobs, there’s a red LED indicator for battery life. There are no playback or track navigation buttons.
The side panels have gold-colored pins as you find on an electric guitar, and these exist to snap on included a carrying strap. The strap is black vegan leather up top, and red velvet on the underside—it looks very much like a guitar strap, and it’s a nice touch that also happens to be fairly essential given the speaker’s size and weight.
The back panel houses a bass port for air to escape through, and a covered panel that protects the power connection when not in use. This panel also houses the 3.5mm aux input, but there is no cable included, which is a frustrating omission at this price. The Tufton ships with two power cables—one for the US and one for international plugs.
Packed into the Tufton’s considerable frame are a 40W woofer, two 15W full-range drivers, and a 10W tweeter. The Tufton employs a three-way design (one driver is rear-facing) for multi-directional sound, so you could stand around it and get a similar performance from any angle. In theory.
While you could use the speaker indoors, and it would easily fill a room, this speaker is best suited for the outdoors with a performance tailor-made for bothering the neighbors.
Play Electric Light Orchestra’s Mr. Blue Sky and the Tufton comes up with a performance full of infectious energy that engages right from the song’s opening bars. The multi-directional performance works, although I feel there’s just a bit more performance to be gained from sitting in front of the speaker with the sound coming across as slightly muffled from the rear.
The soundstage feels condensed, too, likely down to its narrower, tower-shaped design. Plus, similar to the Kilburn II, it could benefit from a greater sense of separation between the treble and mids.
It’s a speaker more suited to playing energetic tunes. A play of “The Landing” from Justin Hurwitz’s First Man reveals it lacks a bit of detail at the top end. As mentioned above, you can tweak the treble and bass settings, and doing so can provide slightly better results.
Still, the size and energy of the sound are used to good effect. Kanye West’s Power is a song that feels made for the Tufton’s qualities, full of power, heft, and a room/patio-shaking bass performance. It doesn’t so much as play than exploding forth from the speaker, the Tufton dealing with the track’s sense of rhythm and energy in a commendable fashion.
Marshall estimates the Tufton’s battery life to be roughly 20 hours, but your results will vary with your volume levels. Audio performance doesn’t seem to vary between cable-powered and battery-powered modes. Like most Bluetooth speakers this large, the Tufton doesn’t include a speakerphone function.
In conclusion, With tons of portable power and a no-nonsense design that oozes rock and roll authenticity, the Marshall Tufton Bluetooth Speaker is a badass Bluetooth party speaker you can take anywhere. As long as you don’t expect this classic muscle car of a speaker to sound like a home hi-fi system, it’s going to impress those who want to thrill a crowd.