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Marshall Tufton Review

Verdict

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Marshall brings a big, energetic sound to the outdoors in the Tufton

Pros

  • Big and fun sound
  • 20 hour+ battery life
  • Distinctive look

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not the most articulate presentation
  • Multi-directional sound
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • IPX2 water-resistance
  • Rechargeable battery

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.

The Tufton outdoor speaker went on sale in 2019 for £349 / $399 / €399 / CAD$599 / AUD$649. You may see it out of stock on some sites including the Marshall’s own, but it has not been discontinued. The Marshall Tufton can also be bought in Black and Brass colourway for the same price.

  • Marshall guitar amp like design
  • Big in size
  • Carry strap

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. 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.

Marshall Tufton

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.

  • Water resistant to a point
  • Supports connections to two Bluetooth devices
  • Quick charging support

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.

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.

Marshall Tufton

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.

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.

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.

  • Lots of energy
  • Big scale to sound
  • Not the widest soundstage

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.

Marshall Tufton

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 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.

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.

  • You’re in need of a fun outdoor speaker

The Tufton is a fun speaker to listen as long as you’re playing songs that suit its characteristics. This is intended to be a party speaker, one 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.

  • If you want a smaller speaker

Of course if size is a concern then there are much smaller, and more portable speakers to choose from. There’s a specific case use for the Tufton, and it’s not a speaker you’d necessarily be taking to the beach.

  • You want a better sounding speaker

The Sonos Move is an alternative, though it costs a little more. It does sound better than the Tufton and is not as big, but in terms of portability it doesn’t quite strike the right balance. As a speaker for the garden though, that would get our vote

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