Finally it's time to fulfill my rockstar fantasies, and get up close and personal with the S$399 Marshall Stockwell. This speaker reminds me of vintage Marshall Amps from the 60s! Very rock 'n' roll!
And the design goes even further as to include a faux-leather cover lined with velvet, which doubles up as a kickstand so that the audio projects better. The machined metal buttons pop out when you need to adjust something, and they clearly feel industrial grade. Like on a guitar amp, the buttons glide smoothly when you turn them! Thickness is like a B5 hardcover book, and overall the build quality is satisfyingly good - though a little heavy. But when you do carry it outside, you can expect to make a statement!
You can connect your device through bluetooth or by using a wire. The speaker is bi-amped which in technical terms mean you get better bass and treble separation, and if the sound is not to your liking you could adjust it. Battery life is stated 20 hours, but while listening at 50% volume the Stockwell squeezed out almost 23 hours! Surprise surprise! You charge it using a proprietary charger which is a non-issue for me, given that the incredible battery life reduces the number of times I have to plug it in. There is a USB port but that's really for juicing up your device.
Well, make no mistake, the Stockwell is one of the loudest m***********s you can get at this size. It's even louder than the Marshall Kilburn, which is bigger and more expensive! Since the Stockwell has bass and treble controls, I fiddled around with it, and found that it sounds best to me when Treble is set at a full 10 and Bass at 8. Now, these are my personal settings so please remember that you may discover different settings that may suit you better. I find that the Stockwell's treble is well controlled even when playing at high volumes, with distortion kept to a minimal. This is what I would expect of a company built on making great guitar amps. I could really feel the richness of the mids when playing vocal tracks and was very impressed by its soundstage. I was not so impressed by its bass performance though. At max bass the deep thumps I expected to hear when playing 'Royals' by Lorde became flat thuds and I had to lower the bass to deal with the distortion. Bass also sounded muffled at times, and couldn't extend low enough for me to not only hear the bass but to feel it, unlike other speakers at the same price point.
Though the bass and treble controls offer more flexibility, it cuts both ways. Automatic equalizers are better for portable speakers as they take into account the speaker's size and remove the need to manually optimize the speaker for different types of music and volume levels. At low volumes, I could barely hear the bass at all despite my bass being set to a high '8'. It's not so bad if you only listen to one type of music, but if you listen to a wide range of songs like me, adjusting the bass and treble depending the type of music is such a chore. So to me, key controls on the Stockwell is a gimmick meant to distinguish itself from other portables.
At this price point, other speakers are offering water resistance, speakerphone and an app that enhances the user experience. None of these can be found with the Stockwell but I do appreciate that the product focus is more about the sound output and its premium vintage design.
I love the Stockwell's premium build and vintage design; and I'm very impressed by its great battery life. It's also very loud, loud enough for function room parties! However, its lack of features put it at a slight disadvantage against other speakers like the JBL Xtreme and the UE Megaboom, which cost the same $399. That being said, if features like water resistance is not important for you and you don't need loud, powerful bass, I'd say, give it a go, and make a statement with its bold design and sound quality!