Marshall's compact but powerful smart speaker makes Alexa rock
Sweden's Zound Industries, the company that manufactures headphones and speakers under license from Marshall Amps, has announced the release of a new Bluetooth speaker called the Uxbridge Voice, which has Alexa built in and supports AirPlay 2.
In the world of rock music, Marshall's amplifiers have deservedly achieved iconic status. A few years ago, the company decided to expand into the consumer technology market – starting with some on-ear and in-ear headphones. They had a lot to live up to, but sounded great. In fact, we still use the first generation Major headphone to this day.
Numerous Bluetooth speakers followed, with Zound's designers making them look a little like the guitar amplifiers for which Marshall is best known. There was even a smartphone released in 2015. And the latest addition to the family is a boxy little speaker that's reported to pack quite a sonic punch, while also benefiting from Amazon's Alexa inside and support for AirPlay 2.
First and foremost, the new 5 x 6.1 x 4.8-in (128 x 168 x 123-mm) speaker rocks the same signature Marshall sound as its siblings, with Zound saying that it's been "engineered to create a thunderous sound from its compact frame." That's thanks to a 30-W Class D amplifier that drives the woofer and tweeter within the enclosed cabinet for a frequency response of 54 Hz - 20 kHz and 96 dB SPL.
You can control playback using the guitar-inspired rocker buttons to the top, or you can go hands-free and get Alexa do to the work for you. The far-field dual microphone array caters for conversations with Amazon's digital assistant, as well as doing double duty for noise cancellation. And Zound is claiming that those microphones will be able to register your voice even if the speaker is belting out loud music and you're over the other side of the room.
Thanks to included 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Alexa can also tap into popular online streaming services, and the Uxbridge Voice is ready for multi-room setups. It will happily play nice with Echo speakers on the network, or any other AirPlay 2-enabled units, as well as other Uxbridge Voice speakers. It can be set up to stream the same music to every room, or have each node play its own. Bluetooth 5.0 allows for streaming from a smartphone or other music source device.
The Marshall Uxbridge Voice is priced at US$199, and will go on sale from April 8. A version with Tencent's Xiaowei voice assistant will follow on May 4, and another with Google Assistant support is due for release on June 11.
Product page: Uxbridge Voice