REVIEW: Marshall Kilburn II, Small but Mighty
Legendary British amp manufacturer Marshall has followed up its popular Kilburn speaker with its “stout-hearted hero” sibling, the Kilburn II, available now for RRP $499.99.
As someone who grew up around electric guitars, basses, and rock music courtesy of my brother and his mates, Marshall will always remain synonymous with guitar amps and big sound.
In recent years, the amp brand has expanded into the everyday consumer space with its range of speakers that retain the aesthetic of their iconic amps.
But does the Kilburn II live up to its rock-history pedigree?
Inspired by its heritage, the design evokes both Marshall’s amps and equipment with its solid metal grille (akin to the steel mesh on mics) and will appeal to rockaholics, rock stars, and wannabe rock stars alike.
Marshall ditched the gold accents of the original Kilburn for a cleaner more subdued look with its white logo stamped on the grille.
Complete with a velvet and leather guitar strap handle secured with chunky gold screws for a final note connecting it to its rock history.
The hardwearing speaker feels sturdy and has a good deal of heft for its size — 2.5kg and measuring 243 x 162 x 140mm — it could take a beating, or survive a road trip, camping adventure, music festival, or pool party.
Although, if you’re likely to simply leave it on your mantle or desk, its weight may not be an issue.
However, don’t attempt to chuck it in the pool as it may not survive more than an accidental spilling of beer or splash of rain thanks to its IPX2 rating.
Its heft could affect its portability, but the audio quality more than makes me happy to lug it around.
Although it looks like a mini-Marshall amp, this Bluetooth speaker delivers supreme sound quality, only instead of hooking up your guitar, you connect to your smartphone.
It is built by the same Swedish company behind Urbanears headphones, Zound Industries.
For such a small speaker, it packs power in its volume both indoors and out thanks to its multi-directional sound and backfiring tweeters.
The Kilburn II boasts a 20+ hour battery life, which I stand behind. It lasted about that on a full charge with constant Bluetooth music input and toggling of its analogue controls.
I loved using these controls because toggling bass and treble knobs to my preference, was so reminiscent of adjusting the sound on an actual amp.
The treble is crisp and bass is well defined and retains composure and clarity even when the volume is pumped up to the max.
It produces a satisfying loudness, ear-splitting guitar solos, smashing hi-hats, and thumping bass.
Marshall did away with a dedicated power button, in order to turn the speaker on you simply turn the volume up.
Helpfully, there is a battery indicator next to the controls as well, so you can gauge how long left you have in a charge.
It takes just over 2.5 hours to fully charge the Kilburn II, but you’ll be able to get a three-hour battery life with a 15-minute charge.
The Bluetooth pair button is to the left of the control nobs, and when the speaker connects to a smartphone a guitar riff is heard.
At the back of the speaker, you can find the aux input to connect a 3.5mm cable if you want to directly connect your smartphone etc.
The Kilburn II features Bluetooth 5.0 AptX connectivity with about 30 feet/10 metre range and can connect two devices at once.
The only downside is the lack of Wi-Fi connectivity, but if you are willing to sacrifice smart assistant integration for great sound, you can’t do much better than the Kilburn II for sound quality.
It did exactly as what it says on the tin. The speaker lasted over 20+ hours, provided incredible sound for the size of the speaker, and looked fantastic with its rugged design and guitar strap handle.
There are few other Bluetooth speakers that produce the same level of audio quality as the Kilburn II.
That combined with its heritage, bumps the price up over its counterparts in the market.
The one detriment is that it lacks smart capabilities. However, with its Bluetooth connectivity, this isn’t a major issue. Especially as you are still experiencing supreme sound.
Despite its lack of smart capabilities, there isn’t much to fault.
If you love Marshall and love to rock out, then this “stout-hearted hero” is right up your alley.
Plus, it will look great anywhere in your home.
Marshall Kilburn II is available now from Marshall’s website and selected retailers RRP $499.99.