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Marshall Willen

Small and portable - but perhaps a little too small.

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The Marshall brand was licensed out over 10 years ago to Swedish Zound Industries, who at the time were best known for their Urbanears brand, which I still think had a great price to quality ratio. Thankfully they are still alive and their latest in-ears are rather sustainably sourced, and are made from 97% recycled plastic.

They've carried that over into their Marshall-branded products, and the Willen are made from PVC-free 60% recycled plastic, and no, they're not made in the same factory as the Marshall guitar amps that every teenage boy with a taste for Gibson or Fender knows and loves. On the other hand, they make really solid Bluetooth speakers in all sizes.

Marshall Willen

The latest and smallest addition is this Willen, a little square with a 2" full-range unit driven by a 10-watt class-D amplifier module, and two passive units of unknown size, where you get 15 hours of battery life and IP67 certification for around £90. In the old days I used to throw the product in a tub of water to test it out, so we did that here too. It gives a much better bass response to say the least, but IP67 only covers 1 metre of water for 30 minutes, and fresh water at that. Unfortunately it sinks like a stone, so you might want to remember that before you take it canoeing. On the other hand, there is a built-in microphone so you can actually use it as a small conference speaker.

There's a solid strap on the back, a battery indicator, a small control wheel and a central Bluetooth button. You can get it in a whole two colours, either black and copper, or cream and light grey.

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It's super easy to use, and could with a bit of a squeeze, fit into a large pocket. It comes with a little app with different pre-sets - we tested alongside "Marshall Signature Sound", and you can combine two of them for true stereo.

Marshall Willen

The frequency response is set at 100-20KHz, but in reality I think it's less. It can deliver a pretty decent sound level up to 8-9 metres away, but there's not much bass and you can forget about depth in the soundstage, piano overtones or anything else like that, because you can pretty much hear nothing but voices, and pretty much only that. It's probably fine for a walk on the beach, too, but not many points can be given for traditional HI-FI qualities when basic things like midrange don't exist at all.

There are limits to how small you can make things, and it's particularly noticeable with the Willen. On the other hand, it's super portable, which is probably the main reason most people buy it, and worst of all, the price is quite high, but that is the case on almost all of these kinds of products these days, much to my annoyance.

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6 / 10
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Marshall Willen

Marshall Willen

HARDWARE. Written by Kim Olsen

Small and portable - but perhaps a little too small.

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