Marshall brings a big, energetic sound to the outdoors
- Big, energetic and fun sound
- Bluetooth 5.0
- 20 hour+ battery life
- Distinctive look
- Not the most articulate performer
- No smart features
- Review Price: £349
- Multi-directional sound
- Bluetooth 5.0
- IPX2 water-resistance
- Rechargeable battery
What is the Marshall Tufton?
The Marshall Tufton Bluetooth speaker is the latest in the brand’s portable speaker range and arrives on the scene just in time for the summer.
The Tufton joins the Kilburn II and Stockwell II in Marshall’s portable range and is the largest portable speaker the brand offers.
While the names of previous Marshall speakers referred to places, the Tufton – coincidentally – shares its name with a street now famous for being the location of Brexit-related Eurosceptic think-tanks.
While that probably slipped through the naming process, let’s not hold it against the speaker.
Marshall Tufton – Design and features
Marshall’s wireless speakers trade on the look of the brand’s iconic guitar amps and this continues with the Tufton. It’s like the Woburn II, except framed portrait instead of landscape. While the look may be an acquired taste for some, Marshall’s speakers are at the very least distinctive-looking efforts that stand out from the crowd.
Standing at 22cm tall and weighing a shade under 5kg, portable isn’t the first word that comes to mind. This is a big unit, but the attached handle means you can carry it around, even if you do feel a little like Radio Raheem and his Boombox from Spike Lee’s 1989 classic Do The Right Thing.
Related: Best Bluetooth speakers
Rated at IPX2, there’s sufficient protection against dripping water, but probably not enough for any accidental beer spillage or the rainy conditions of a traditional British summer. It should be noted that the Tufton boasts a robust build quality: the flush-mounted corner flaps and faux leather covering ensure it should survive a few nicks, scratches and scrapes.
The Tufton supports Bluetooth multi-host functionality (up to two devices), so if the current track is too hideous to bear then you won’t have to wrestle the smartphone from someone else’s hands. Just connect and play music from your mobile device.
Speaking of Bluetooth, the latest 5.0 variant is present here, with the wireless range anywhere up to 30-feet from the speaker. Note that if you’re looking for Wi-Fi, AirPlay 2 or any associated smarts, you won’t find them here.
Related: What is Bluetooth 5?
For those who prefer wired connections over wireless, the Tufton hasn’t abandoned you. There’s an auxiliary input just beneath the bass port on the rear side.
In terms of operation the speaker comes with three physical knob switches, the On/Off button producing a nice satisfying click when twisted, which precedes a guitar amp-like hum from the speaker.
The On/Off knob also doubles as the control for Volume, which misses a trick by not going all the way to 11. The other two allow the Bass and Treble frequencies to be tinkered with. On the far left is a Bluetooth button to initiate pairing, while on the far right is a tower of LED lights to gauge battery life.
With around 20 hours of playtime, the Tufton arguably lasts far longer than you’d need it to. However, you can’t complain about having that much spare battery life, and it does remove the need to keep plugging in and topping up. Having played the Tufton for nearly a day, that battery life is on the money.
On the speaker’s rear is a flap that conceals the mains connection; plug the Tufton in and a 20-minute splash supplies four hours of playback, while a full battery requires 2.5 hours of charging.
Marshall Tufton – Performance
Packed into the Tufton’s considerable frame is a 40W woofer, two 15W full-range drivers and a 10W tweeter. The Tufton employs a three-way design (one driver is rear-facing) for multi-directional sound, so you could stand around it and get a similar performance from any angle. In theory.
While you could use the speaker indoors, and it would easily fill a room, this speaker is best suited for the outdoors with a performance tailor-made for bothering the neighbours.
Play Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr Blue Sky” and the Tufton comes up with a performance full of infectious energy that engages right from the song’s opening bars. The multi-directional performance works, although I feel there’s just a bit more performance to be gained from sitting in front of the speaker with the sound coming across as slightly muffled from the rear.
The soundstage feels condensed, too, likely down to its narrower, tower-shaped design. Plus, similar to the Kilburn II, it could benefit with a greater sense of separation between the treble and mids.
It’s a speaker more suited to playing energetic tunes. A play of “The Landing” from Justin Hurwitz’s First Man soundtrack reveals it lacks a bit of detail at the top end. As mentioned above, you can tweak the treble and bass settings, and doing so can provide slightly better results.
Related: Marshall Kilburn II review
Still, the size and energy of the sound is used to good effect. Kanye West’s “Power” is a song that feels made for the Tufton’s qualities, full of power, heft and a room/patio-shaking bass performance. It doesn’t so much as play than explode forth from the speaker, the Tufton dealing with the track’s sense of rhythm and energy in a commendable fashion.
Why buy the Marshall Tufton?
The Tufton is a fun speaker to listen as long as you’re playing songs that suit its characteristics. You won’t get as much change out of it with, say, classical music, since it lacks a bit of finesse and articulateness. But it makes up for that in spades with power and energy.
At £349 it’s expensive, and aside from Bluetooth 5, you don’t get the Wi-Fi or AirPlay 2 connections that would make it more useful in an indoor setting.
That said, this is intended to be a party speaker, one that’s used outdoors, and in this regard the Tufton makes a convincing case. Whether you’re having a barbeque or out in the park with friends during the summer, the Tufton would make a fine party starter.
Marshall brings a big, energetic sound to the outdoors.
Unlike other sites, we thoroughly test every product we review. We use industry standard tests in order to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever accept money to review a product. Tell us what you think - send your emails to the Editor.