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Marshall Acton III Bluetooth Speaker Review

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If you’re into your music, especially live music, you’ve probably heard of Marshall. They’ve been making amplifiers and guitar equipment for what feels like centuries, and have a real staple within the music industry. Just look at the amps your favourite band is using when playing live. Chances are it’s a Marshall. They’ve also had a hand in the consumer electronic market for a while now, and have had a pretty successful run with their Bluetooth headphones. Now they’ve had a range of speakers in the past, and the Acton III here follows on from the Acton II, but I’ve never personally used one until now.

The Acton III is a small, somewhat portable Bluetooth speaker, though size and weight may say differently. It measures at 26 X 17 X 15 centimeters and weighs 2.85 kilograms or 6.28 pounds. Its size very much says portable speaker to me, but its weight? No chance. The fact it also needs hardline power to run too I suppose is key to the fact this speaker isn’t portable, nor are there any ways to power it from some form of external power supply. But that’s okay.

marshall acton 3 speaker

It’s been designed to look like a traditional Marshall speaker cabinet, you know, the speakers that sit underneath the amplifier when you’re on stage, so it’s meant to be shown in the house and stand loud and proud on display. It looks really, really good. I mean I’m a fan of Marshall gear and used their equipment when I played music, so maybe I’m a bit biased. But if this was being displayed full-time in my home, it would look awesome.

marshall acton 3 speaker

It gives off a bit of a retro feel, with its black faux leather surrounds, and bronze accents. The speaker grill sports the well-known Marshall logo and is more of a brown colour on my one here anyway. The knobs on top follow suit of a traditional guitar amplifier and feel extremely solid when turning. There’s no real visible wobbling of the knobs or switches, and there’s even some nice subtle light indication on top so you know which level you’re at. You’ve got three knobs, one for volume, one for bass, and one for treble. There’s a rocker/button on top for skip track and play/pause, you’ve got an aux-in for wired connections, and a power switch that you can flick forward and back, and it makes a very satisfying click when doing so.

marshall acton 3 speaker

Behind the grill you’ve got yourself a single 30W Class D amplifier for the woofer, and dual 15W Class D amps for the tweeters which have a frequency range of 45Hz to 20KHz. Pretty decent stuff right now, and the speaker itself is front firing, of course. It’s designed to sit in a corner of a room, or on a kitchen worktop and fire out music towards you. It’s compatible with Bluetooth 5.2 and can play music from your smartphone pretty seamlessly. My Google Pixel 7 picked up the speaker before I even went into my Bluetooth settings and asked if I wanted to connect to it. It does unfortunately lose out on higher-quality codecs like AAC and AptX so if you’re more of an audiophile, then you’re going to want to look elsewhere for maximum-quality playback. It’s also missing speakerphone functionality. I’m not sure how much it would have taken to stick a small microphone into the speaker, or a button or two for answering calls, but alas, it’s not here. I know it is a speaker, and its intended as such, but for a common feature now in speakers, it’s surprising it’s been missed.

There is a partner app that can be downloaded to your phone, but it’s not really great, nor I feel is it very essential to the overall use of this speaker. There is EQ controls to change your bass and treble levels, though there are physical knobs on the speaker to do this, and you do get a positional setting, so you can tell the Marshall Acton III app if the speaker is against a wall or in a more open plan setting. Again, this function doesn’t really do much to the overall sound quality you gain, and I feel you have way more control over your sound using the three knobs on top anyway.

marshall acton 3 speaker

Speaking of sound quality though, this gave me mixed feelings. When you think of Marshall, you think of loud, thunderous music that’ll shake the entire house. In the case of the Acton III, yes this speaker can get incredibly loud. Like, incredibly loud. It booms. But, when you start to hit those louder volume levels, an uncomfortable amount of distortion begins to creep into your music, which is seriously offputting. This can be compensated by turning down the bass, but then you’re left with your music, though extremely loud, feeling super empty which again is not really an ideal listening scenario. No, the Acton III works best at mid-volume levels. But this may suit you. At a mid-volume, you get a lot more control over your treble and bass frequencies, and depending on the music type you’re listening to, you can get a really decent full sound from the speaker. Bass hits can sound punchy, and that sub-bass rumbling feeling you can get from electronic music feels great. Being able to mix in a bit of treble, and all of a sudden once your music can feel very much alive, there’s a very nice presentation of sound. For me, with my main genre of music sitting within that rock/punk/metal type genre, I left my bass level around 70%, which was enough to get a decent sound from kick drums and bass lines. And my treble remained at around 40% which gave enough mid and treble for vocal lines to lift over the main bodies of music and for guitar solos to ring out.

So would I recommend the Marshall Acton III? Sure, but not based purely on the audio quality you get. The app is pretty pointless, it’s missing high-end codecs, and has ignored features like hands-free calling and a route to your voice assistant on your phone and finally its distortion at top volume is a little disappointing. It looks absolutely superb though and I can’t take that away from the Acton III. If you’re somone who loves their rock music, or are into that “retro” speaker design, then you can’t really go wrong. It is expensive, and I’m not sure with the missing features above I can justify its £239 price tag, but that’s me. It sounds pretty good once you’ve found your mix for bass and treble, and have no need for loud music though, so yeah, Marshall, it’s not a bad speaker at all.

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