Marshall Willen: the complete test

Marshall, known to rock fans, also offers audio products (speakers, headphones, headphones), including the new Willen, which sells for less than 100 euros. This compact (10 x 10 x 4 cm) and lightweight (314 g) Bluetooth 5.1 speaker has the look of guitar amps with the grille and the famous logo. Most controls are provided by a mini-joystick-type multifunction button, which is very convenient.

Good news for backpackers, Willen is reinforced and above all waterproof (IP67 certification). It also has a rubber strap on the back, so you can attach it anywhere, for example on your bicycle frame or your backpack.

Marshall

Small organic note: Willen contains 60% recycled plastic from used electronic devices. At the top is the battery level indicator as well as the Bluetooth pairing button. This button is also used to activate the stack function, to connect several speakers to each other (see below).

Marshall

Inside there is a 2-inch speaker, as well as two radiators to amplify the bass. Due to its small size, Willen skips stereo and delivers only mono sound. Additionally, it is limited in terms of audio codecs, with only the mandatory SBC. Fans of Apple hardware would like Marshall to include the more efficient AAC codec as well.

Our frequency response test shows that the speaker offers a good bass output, as well as a peak in the treble (around 17000 Hz).

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This is actually the case when we move on to listening tests. For a small speaker, Willen delivers powerful sound with character. We find the manufacturer’s signature with good bass and treble that slams. But to get the most out of the bass, you must avoid getting behind the speaker and above all not turn up the volume completely. Especially since it is not necessary: ​​Willen has enough power for a small space. In hands-free mode, it provides good quality for phone calls, but you do not have to go too far for the microphone to pick up your voice properly.

And if you find that the sound is not loud enough, Willen has Stack mode (the word, which means “stack”, conjures stacks of amplifiers on top of each other). To activate the function, simply press the Bluetooth button on the first speaker three times in a row, then the button on the other speakers twice in a row. The process is simple, but unfortunately it is not possible to specify left and right channels to form a real stereo system with two speakers. The sound is louder but remains in mono. Good point, Willen has a multipoint Bluetooth connection. It can therefore be used with two audio sources without having to disconnect the Bluetooth connection from one to switch to the other.

Over 13 hours of endurance

We also appreciated the endurance, which is very satisfying for such a small unit. We measured an autonomy of 13 h 26 min, almost in line with the 15 hours that the manufacturer had announced. Additionally, Marshall says that 20 minutes of charging gives you three hours of music. Willen comes with a USB Type-A to Type-C cable, but without a charger.

Using Bluetooth LE, the speaker can communicate with the free Marshall Bluetooth app.

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This indicates the battery level and allows you to update the firmware if necessary. But we were disappointed with the EQ, which has only three presets. Unfortunately, it is not possible to change the frequencies manually.

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The media player is also disappointing. It really does the absolute minimum with volume adjustment, pause and skip to the next or previous track. In the case of Willen, this app is absolutely indispensable. Finally, note that the speaker is Google Fast Pair compatible, which facilitates pairing on Android mobile devices.

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