Marshall Middleton review: Far from middling

Marshall’s lineup of portable speakers just expanded – we tested the excellent Emberton II last year and came away impressed, but for those who want something beefier there’s a new addition.

The Middleton is officially Marshall’s biggest and loudest portable speaker yet, and while it’s heavy enough to be a bit of a burden, its excellent sound makes it a great choice.

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Marshall Middleton


This is a great speaker that feels a little bit too heavy for most people, but will be a superb option for those who do want its heft.The sound is simply excellent, and impressively powerful, while the Middleton looks just as you’d want from a Marshall speaker.


  • Great sound
  • Looks superb
  • Solid controls


  • Really heavy
  • Quite expensive


  • 109 x 230 x 95mm
  • Weighs 1.8kg
  • Available in black, with light grey coming

Look – Marshall doesn’t exactly experiment too much when it comes to how its speakers look, so if you’re coming to the Middleton hoping for it to rip up the rulebook, look elsewhere.

However, if you like the classic design that Marshall’s been using for ages, this is another excellent addition, a black leather-look plastic that’s soft to the touch.

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It features a stealthy front grille accented by the textbook Marshall logo in brassy metal, with a sturdy rubber foot around the bottom of the speaker to ensure it doesn’t slide around when you stick it on a surface.

Atop the speaker there are useful controls; a button each lets you go into pairing mode or check your battery life, with a line of LEDs giving you the information.

In the middle is a brass control knob for skipping tracks and adjusting volume, alongside powering the Middleton up or down. Finally, two more sets of buttons on the right of the speaker top let you adjust bass and treble on the fly, also using the LED matrix.

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It’s a really handy mix that gives you everything you’re likely to need on the fly, with more controls obviously available on the Marshall app if desired.

Plus, the speaker just looks excellent, in our view, with an included rubber hand loop that comes really in handy for carrying it. This brings us to the only real negative – at 1.8kg, this is no lightweight speaker.

That means it feels sturdy and reliable, but there’s no getting around the fact that it’s a bit much to lug around sometimes, especially if you want to put other stuff in a backpack, too.

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That means the Middleton feels more like a speaker you have in your home but can easily move around – or one that you could take on holiday to stick in a hotel room or villa for a week – rather than one you’d head out to the park with at the drop of a hat.

Sound quality

  • 50 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • Bass and treble adjustment on-speaker

Turning the speaker on with a long press of that brass control knob opens the doors to a really impressive soundstage that is, after all, the main point of the Middleton.

This is a beefy speaker for the portable world, comparable to some of the bigger Ultimate Ears models in terms of how much volume it can crank out.

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Like those excellent speakers, the Middleton is also distortion-free at these high volumes, keeping a rich and balanced profile that makes it a good choice for anyone who will occasionally want to pump out some bangers seriously loud.

Happily, though, that balance applies to normal listening as well – we tried the Middleton at a range of volumes for sustained sessions and it didn’t disappoint at any of them.

Even on nice and quiet there was still enough depth to the bass to make it noticeable, something that can make a real difference without robbing you of the ability to listen quietly.

Having treble and bass adjustments on the speaker itself also means that tweaks are really simple and we found ourselves using them more than we would if it were merely an in-app option.

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Something we couldn’t test with only a single speaker was the ability to stack multiple Middletons on top of each other to create an even more powerful unit, a neat feature that very few people are likely to ever actually use.

Despite its front grille, the Middleton also isn’t too directional a speaker – we did feel like there was a back and a front when we moved around it, but it’s nowhere near as pronounced as on one of Marshall’s static speakers.

Features and battery life

  • 20-hour battery life
  • 4.5-hour recharge

Being a portable speaker, the battery is at the top of the list of variables that affect the Middleton, and it comes in with pretty solid specs.

Marshall says it’ll last over 20 hours on a charge, which we found accurate in our testing, and while that’s a perfectly decent return, we can’t help but want a little more from it.

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After all, given the weight of the speaker, you’d expect it to have a really chunky battery and we’ve come to hope for totals of over 30 hours from this sort of device.

Still, it’s hardly a serious issue and will still get you through plenty of music in one go. The Middleton recharges using a USB-C cable and takes a pretty decent amount of time to fully power up.

There’s also a 3.5mm jack on the back of the speaker for when you do want to go analogue, something that’s always nice to have as a backup.

Marshall has also given the Middleton some solid rugged protection in the form of IP67 dust and water resistance. This doesn’t mean that you can chuck it in a swimming pool without worrying, but quick splashes or brief immersion isn’t a problem on the water side of things, while dust also isn’t an issue.

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That’s great news for those who would want to use it outdoors, as it means that adverse weather isn’t something to worry about either.


The Middleton is another absolutely rock-solid speaker from Marshall, one that actually weighs about as much as a rock, but sounds phenomenal to make up for it.

Its weight means that it won’t be perfect for every scenario, but that’s fine – there are smaller speakers available. For those who do want its hefty, punchy sound, this is a great beefy speaker.

It manages to retain sonic balance even at high volumes and makes it really easy to adjust things on the fly, all while looking like a bit of classic sound equipment.