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HomeTech ReviewsMarshall Middleton review: Loud with nuance

Marshall Middleton review: Loud with nuance

“It’s too loud…,” my sleepy-eyed 12-year-old complains as I try to wake him up on a school day. He’s referring to the podcast I’m playing on Marshall Middleton in the living room. I am happy the speaker has done its job well and the fact is sitting just next to it I did not feel it was too loud. That’s the effect this compact Bluetooth speaker delivers effectively every time you play it.

The Middleton is a very Marshall-looking Bluetooth speaker. But it is more compact and portable than units I have seen from this brand before. The built quality is great with a gold finish speaker grill up front with the Marshall logo and another gold toggle on top which acts as the power button and lets you adjust volume and skip songs. On the left of this is an LED strip that shows the battery level and to the right are bass and treble controls. The gold looks great, but I would have preferred the black and not the cream, a colour I think will get soiled soon under Indian conditions.

While there are bass and treble controls on top of the speaker, one can use the Marshall Bluetooth app also to control the same. However, I was disappointed that this is all the app also lets you do, along with enabling the stack mode where you make multiple Middleton units play in unison.

Marshall There are bass and treble controls on top of the speaker, one can use the Marshall Bluetooth app (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan/The Indian Express)

My first impression of the Marshall was simple — loud and bass. But that was a hasty conclusion. The Middleton is much more nuanced as I discovered in the couple of weeks I had it in my living room. I got a sense of this when I played Anandadhara, one of my favourite songs. Shirkanto Acharya’s baritone boomed across my living room, even though I had reduced the bass significantly and upped the treble, just the way I liked it. This is when I realised the richness of Middleton’s audio playback and the amazing balance it achieved between the highs and lows.

Even at middle volumes, this speaker is loud. But loud not in an ear-piercing kind of way, but in a softer room-filling kind of way. And this is perfect to play acoustic numbers that let you relax after work or on the weekends. Megan Davies’ voice really shines through in Take Me To Church. And this is also the song that convinced me to play the Middleton with zero bass when listening to vocal-heavy numbers.

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But the bass can come back up when you are on to something more layered like Sultans of Swing, another favourite. I was so tempted to play this Dire Straits classic at full volume but resisted the urge thinking of the small baby next door. But this was a great way to gauge the punch the Middleton packs. You feel the cymbals almost move the ceiling lamps in the living room. I was wondering how impactful these speakers can be in stack mode. For the record, the Middleton packs two 3-inch 15W woofers and 3/5-inch 10W tweeters each along with two passive radiators. So this audio playback is not a coincidence. It is very much by design.

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The battery on the Middleton lasts about 20 hours. That for me was a full week of audio playback, from the smartphone, laptop, and even the TV for a bit. In fact, I loved listening to my favourite podcast Empire, almost like a radio evening from the past. The Middleton is portable enough to be moved anywhere in the room but is a bit heavy for the backpack at almost 1.8 kg weight. Interestingly though, you can use the speakers to charge your phones if the need arises.

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However, with a price tag of Rs 31,999, I would have liked the Middleton to also have Wi-Fi capabilities so that streaming could be direct and uninterrupted. Also, the app can be a lot better with some presents and maybe a five-band equaliser.

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Still, this Marshall Middleton is among the best Bluetooth speakers you can buy at this price range. It is also stylish enough to mark a mark wherever you keep it. The audio playback stands up to the reputation of Marshall and that is what you are paying the premium for.

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