Marshall Stanmore III review: Wildly impressive but imperfect Bluetooth speaker

in General Discussion
The vintage style and deep, rich sound of the Marshall Stanmore III might appear to be the perfect home Bluetooth speaker, but its superficial styling masks minor compromises that are magnified by its steep $379.99 retail price

Marshall Stanmore III
Marshall Stanmore III

The Stanmore III is a dedicated home speaker meant to be stationary, as there's no battery inside. For portable needs, you can look at the Tufton, Emberton, or Woburn speakers from Marshall.

Instead, the Stanmore III, the middle child of the newest speaker line, includes RCA and aux inputs so it can play music from a number of devices, such as a turntable.

Stanmore III style and features

Marshall continues to lean into the look of its guitar amps for its line of home speakers. It's smart and we're still enamored by the look after all these decades.

Physical knobs on the top used to control volume and EQ
Physical knobs on the top used to control volume and EQ

The tactile and physical control knobs on the top play into the vintage amp look. A button for input resides on the left, next to knobs for volume, bass, and treble.

There's also a toggle for play, pause, and skipping tracks next to a meaty power switch that's incredibly satisfying to flip on and off. The aux input is on the top of the unit for quick access while the RCA connectors are on the back.

Besides the controls, and ports, there aren't many raw, dedicated features. This is primarily a speaker meant to play your favorite music and play it loud.

To that end, the app experience was disappointing. You can change the bass and treble, but more nuanced EQ settings are non-existent.

You can also adjust the sound by selecting the speaker placement -- telling the app whether it's by a wall or not. Mostly it seemed the point of the app was trying to sell other Marshall products and provide the occasional firmware update.

Stanmore III sound

Without any qualifications, Marshall Stanmore III is a brilliant-sounding speaker. Its default sound profile is capable of low-end, resonant bass all the way to the other end of the spectrum which is sparkling and clear.

This black color is one of three color options
This black color is one of three color options

A 50-watt class D amplifier handles woofer duties while two 15-watt class D amplifiers are used for the tweeters. Marshall does advertise stereo sound, but the separation was almost non-existent, though we didn't care about that too much.

The interesting thing about this particular Bluetooth speaker is that, unlike most consumer options, it encourages tweaking the EQ with the bass and treble dials front and center.

Plenty of consumer audio devices allow EQ settings to be changed, but few give access to them with physical controls. One thing this means is that people's impression of the Stanmore III's sound could vary wildly.

Despite choosing to leave the bass and treble levels at 50 percent, it was nice and convenient to be able to raise or lower the bass level a notch or two on a whim.

Connecting the Stanmore III to a U-Turn turntable yielded great results. The button to toggle between input sources was handy for being able to switch from one to another without using an app.

Thanks, at least partially, to a ported bass design, the Stanmore III did sound considerably better compared to a first-generation HomePod. It got louder and filled a room with a high ceiling better too.

The low-end swelled when it needed to, but still remained controlled and never sounded blown out -- unless the EQ was pushed to the extremes and at peak volume.

HomePod compared to Stanmore III

The decision to choose between a HomePod and Stanmore III is a reasonable one. And it's an easy decision too.

If you want a speaker for your record player, in addition to it being able to be used wirelessly with Bluetooth, the Marshall one should be your pick.

If, however, your priority isn't physically connecting another device, you'll likely find the HomePod more functional in day-to-day use.

AirPlay doesn't tie up all audio from a connected device the way Bluetooth does. Connecting multiple HomePods around the house is easier. A HomePod can also be paired with an Apple TV as an output source either temporarily or on a more dedicated basis.

Bluetooth is the only wireless connectivity for the speaker
Bluetooth is the only wireless connectivity for the speaker

The Stanmore retails for $80 more than the second-generation HomePod. That's less of a concern if it's pulling double duty as a turntable speaker, but it is a hefty sum if it isn't.

Marshall Stanmore III - Pros

  • Bold and detailed sound for Bluetooth speaker

  • Beautiful style

  • Functional knobs for quick adjustments

Marshall Stanmore III - Cons

  • Lacks Wi-Fi and AirPlay

  • Pricey if used primarily for Bluetooth

    • Rating: 3.5 out of 5

      Although this product is a stellar speaker in a vacuum, its relatively high cost and lack of Wi-Fi for Spotify Connect or AirPlay make it slightly less attractive than it would be otherwise.

      This speaker is available for purchase at Amazon for $379.99. Read on AppleInsider


  • Reply 1 of 3
    AI reviews and the star ratings given often leave me SMH, but this one seems like a pretty fair assessment all around. WiFi capability is a huge major plus that plug-in speakers have over nearly all of their battery-powered Bluetooth competition. So to be plug-in only at this price point and not have wifi does seem like a very big miss. Even worse: if the sound is as stellar as described, then this speaker could have benefitted from the lossless playback that's possible over wifi. 
  • Reply 2 of 3
    Another portable option from Marshall is the Middleton.
  • Reply 3 of 3
    Connecting the Stanmore III to a U-Turn turntable yielded great results.

    I'm not sure what they are, but I think I want one of those U-Turn turntables.
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