Marshall  - Marshall Kilburn II


Marshall Kilburn II portable speaker: big sound, almost uncompromising

Aprox. 219€ - see price -

See specifications

A few years after its launch, the least bulky Marshall portable speaker comes back in a second version. If, unlike some of its big sisters, it did not take advantage of it to acquire multiroom functionalities, it does however benefit from a completely new acoustic design, distinguished in particular by a very original spatialization technique.

Positive points

Dynamic and very powerful.

Excellent balance of restitution.

Well defined and punchy bass.

Original and rather effective spatialization system (without being revolutionary).

AptX Low Latency compatible.

Design, exemplary manufacturing quality.

Very generous autonomy (20 hours).

Bad points

Sometimes very slightly piercing sound.

Lack of precision and looseness in the mediums.

Basic controls (no playback control, no unified volume control).

Our review


With their vintage guitar amp look, Marshall speakers have always managed to attract attention with talent. Kilburn II is no exception to this rule. On the contrary, it even represents a new summit for the manufacturer, with its particularly well-felt finishes and its very beautiful imitation leather. The assembly is not to be outdone, giving off a feeling of quality and exemplary solidity. The rotation of the control pseudo-knobs, for example, is impeccably fluid.

To complete all of this, the enclosure even benefits from splash protection, up to IPX2 certification. Very modest, it only guarantees protection against light and vertical water splashes only. It is always that taken. And even if you do not plan to take the Kilburn II in the rain or by the pool, you should at least be able to install it safely in a kitchen, for example.

Note that if we presented the Kilburn II above as the smallest portable speaker of Marshall, this does not make it a paragon of nomadism. With its 24 cm wide, 16 cm deep and 2.5 kg on the scale, it would be hard to carry it around permanently in your backpack. However, when you want to move it, its integrated handle can obviously be very practical.

The Kilburn II boasts compatibility with version 5.0 of the Bluetooth protocol, from which it does not derive any functional benefit, however. On the other hand, it does take advantage of its compatibility with the aptX codec, and especially its aptX LL (Low Latency) variant. If it is connected to a source also compatible with this codec, its audio broadcast latency is less than 50 ms. Thus, the sound / image gap when viewing a video is almost imperceptible, even for people very sensitive to the phenomenon. What a pleasure!

If the source is not aptX LL compatible, the latency is around 150 ms. It then becomes clearly perceptible, but remains largely in the realm of the acceptable.

Paradoxically, apart from this support for Bluetooth 5.0, the Kilburn II is a very basic wireless speaker. The volume control knob is obviously not motorized, it prevents the unification of the volume control of the speaker with that of the source. At the same time, the speaker is completely devoid of play / pause and navigation buttons between tracks. The juxtaposition of these two characteristics is unfortunate, because it means that - for those who want to do things "cleanly" - the volume control can only be done on the speaker, while the playback control can only be done on the source. Inconsistent and frustrating.

The wired connection consists of a single auxiliary input on 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack. Given the volume of the speaker, we would not have been against adding a double RCA input, or even an S / PDIF input. However, at a time when wired interfaces tends to disappear altogether from products in this category, we will be able to be satisfied with it.

The Kilburn II has a generous battery which probably partly justifies the weight of the speaker - especially since the latter is recharged via a standard IEC C7 cable, which therefore means that the transformer is integrated! During our measurement with a volume set at half of its maximum power (ie an already very high listening level), the autonomy increased to 20 hours. It makes the Kilburn II one of the most enduring transportable speakers tested by our laboratory.



Marshall wireless speakers, we used to say that they were distinguished by very dynamic and energetic sound performance, at the cost of a certain lack of subtlety. From this point of view, it is a very nice surprise that the Kilburn II has in store for us.

The latest addition to the manufacturer can boast a surprisingly balanced frequency response. Oh, of course, if we have fun pushing the bass and treble knobs all the way, she doesn't hesitate to scream at us in the face with a particularly edgy V signature; but therefore put the bass at 0 and the treble at level 3 or 4, and suddenly the profile becomes much wiser and fairer. The only exception to this is the hollow centered at 5 kHz, impossible to erase, and which can have the psycho-acoustic effect a transfer of hearing attention to frequencies above 10 kHz. We can thus find a slightly piercing side to certain cymbal strokes or other sounds loaded in extreme treble - more pronounced in Bluetooth than on the auxiliary input, since a point of harmonic distortion between 5 and 6 kHz is then added to the rendering.

On the other hand, the neutrality of the low frequencies is quite remarkable. Absolutely no resonance occurs at the rear vent, which allows the bass to be particularly clean and punchy. The extension is certainly not spectacular, but the beautiful presence guaranteed from 60 Hz allows the overall rendering to benefit from a very good seat. The mediums also get away with the honors, even if we have a little criticism here. This time it concerns the precision of the rendering, which is quite modest. The sound message delivered lacks hairlessness, the various components of the sound sometimes tend to blend slightly into each other - especially, of course, when they occupy spectral areas close to each other. In fact, the problem tends to become especially audible on acoustic music, very rich in mediums, and less on amplified music. Some will have fun retorting that, on the part of a Marshall branded enclosure, there is ultimately nothing perfectly inconsistent!

Compared to its predecessors, the Marshall Kilburn II has slightly gained in finesse, while remaining a good distance from perfection, but rest assured: energy and dynamics have not been sacrificed. On the contrary, they are here as admirable as they have always been with the manufacturer. At maximum volume, the Kilburn II is capable of sounding out a large living room in a very generous way, without any effect on harmonic distortion - and above all, without any cheating. Unlike most of its competitors, it does not have any dynamic limitation processing, which would artificially inflate the average sound level by attenuating peaks of intensity. We can therefore push the volume up to 11 without fear of depriving the music of its scale.

Let us conclude on what makes the singularity of this enclosure, namely its spatialization system. Let us pass on the access of madness which pushed the marketing department of the manufacturer to want to call the spatialization system of "Kil2" a "Blumlein system"; the design of the enclosure has absolutely nothing in common with the stereophonic recording system of the same name. In reality, the Kilburn II has only a woofer / tweeter on the front panel, thus delivering a monophonic sound - consisting of the addition of the left and right channels of the stereo input signal. In parallel, an integrated processing circuit analyzes the stereophony of the signal to extract what it determines to be room effects (reverberation, echo ...), then these effects are broadcast via the second tweeter, on the back of the enclosure. When the latter is positioned near a wall, the reflection and diffraction of these components in the listening room would make it possible to partially reconstruct the depth of the sound scene.

That's the theory, but does it work in practice? Surprisingly, the answer is yes. This system obviously cannot replace a true stereophony, but we must recognize that it has the capacity to give the restitution a significantly greater magnitude than that of a simple mono. Being anyway admitted that the narrow width of the Kilburn II could not allow it to offer a stereo with left / right separation worthy of the name, this solution is probably the best that could be implemented. It certainly does not upset the listening experience, but adds a little something that is always appreciable.



With the Kilburn II, the Marshall brand signs its best portable speaker, and even its best wireless speaker. Its controlled, balanced and dynamic sound, which lacks only a touch of precision to achieve flawlessness, allows it to have a ripple that finally relates to its plumage - always as classy.