Summary – Marshall Acton vs Kilburn
In our Marshall Acton vs Kilburn review, our experts compare both speakers based on select criteria such as sound quality, design, performance, battery life and overall value to pick the overall winner. It is a guide written for those who are undecided between the Acton and Kilburn speakers and need a thorough comparative review. To cut the long story short, after hours of comprehensive testing listening to both speakers, we conclude that the Marshall Kilburn is the clear winner both in terms of sound quality and general performance. Here are the reasons why the Marshall Kilburn comes out on top with our select criteria.
Marshall Kilburn. The Marshall Kilburn is one of the classiest and best Bluetooth speakers in the Marshall line of speakers, and can pump out an incredible 20 hours of continuous playtime on a single charge. It comes with two ¾” dome tweeters and one large 4” woofer for enhanced stereo sound performance, with a clear midrange and extended highs for an articulated and well balanced sound.It is fitted with a Class D Amplifier with a power output of 2 X 5W and 1 X15W. The frequency range of the Marshall Kilburn is a very nice 62 Hz to 20 kHz. The Kilburn features a classic Marshall design with a vintage looking front and gold-colored metal details. You can easily connect to the Kilburn speaker using your smartphone, tablet or laptop to wirelessly stream music to the speaker. The built-in rechargeable battery is capable of delivering a solid 20 hours of playtime on a single charge, which clearly makes it as one of the most portable best wireless speakers you can get in terms of longest battery life. The Kilburn speaker weighs slightly under 7 pounds which makes it lightweight enough for easy transportation; it also comes with a nice leather strap for you to take it around on the go.
Marshall Acton. The Marshall Acton speaker is a well-balanced Bluetooth speaker that is capable of producing clear midrange and crisp highs – it has a very articulate and detailed sound performance. It does produce a good measure of soundstage when listening to the speaker from a distance of around 6 feet. The bass response on the Marshall Acton speaker is nice and punchy and does not muddy into the midrange frequencies. It is fitted with a Class D amplifier with a power output of 2 X 8W and 1 X 25W. It is also equipped with two ¾” dome tweeters and one large 4” woofer for crisp highs and good low-end sound reproduction. The Marshall Acton has a weight of approximately 3kg or 6.6lbs. It also features a 3.5mm input and double ended cable. The speaker connects to your smartphone device via Bluetooth 4.0 with EDR aptX codec capabilities. The Acton retains all the classical Marshall speaker design and looks like a very solid piece of audio equipment.
Marshall Kilburn. The sound on the Marshall Kilburn feels very good and high quality; it comes equipped with individual bass and treble tuning knobs on the top for you to adjust the sound performance according to your personal preference. The volume output on the Kilburn can get very high with its 4” woofer and is clearly very good at filling at room with full-bodied sound without any distortion. The speaker itself is capable of producing deeper, cleaner bass with crisp highs and detailed mids, which makes a very enjoyable listening experience for a variety of music genres. We found that the sound is more bass-heavy than stereo speakers and is suited for those who enjoy listening to the deep low-end frequencies from rock and pop genres. That being said, because this speaker is designed with a single woofer, you will not get much stereo separation in the music but the upside is that you will get cleaner, much deeper bass without any distortion. The midrange on this speaker feels clean and detailed and the highs are crisp and well defined. It has a frequency response of 62 Hz to 20 kHz. As compared with the Marshall Acton, we felt that the Marshall Kilburn produces better full range sound and low-end bass, which means that you get sound that feels much richer and can handle a great variety of music genres without any issues.
Marshall Acton. In terms of sound performance, the Marshall Acton has a slightly higher power rating than the Marshall Kilburn – its dual dome tweeters pump out a sweet 8 watts of power while the woofer is rated at 25 watts. This gives the Kilburn a total power output of around 40 watts. The volume on the Marshall Acton goes slightly louder than the Marshall Kilburn but both have a pretty good maximum volume and are capable of filling up large rooms with filling sound easily. The frequency range on the Marshall Acton is between 50 Hz to 20 kHz. Vocal performances on the Marshall Acton sounded crisp and clear, with nice highs, bright trebles and a clear midrange. The sound signature of the Acton feels pretty much neutral before adjusting the treble and bass knobs – you can turn up the bass on this speaker easily by turning the knob. The bass response feels tight, punchy and stays where it should be without bleeding into the midrange. Despite it’s wider frequency range down to 50 Hz, we would describe the Acton as having a sound signature that leans towards the highs and upper midrange frequencies with great analytical clarity. The sound feels more “studio” like that has an emphasis on analytical clarity rather than having a “fun” sound signature. It’s not really the best for electronic dance music but better for those leaning towards jazz or rock music.
So which speaker is the actual winner? This is actually a tough call to make! While the Marshall Acton has slightly more power than the Kilburn, the Kilburn feels and sounds more full-range and can handle bass-heavy music better with tight bass. The Kilburn is a much better party speaker than the Acton but both actually do sound very good at high volumes without any distortion. This may all boil down to personal preference, but if we had to pick the winner it would definitely be the Marshall Kilburn due to its solid low-end thump.
The Winner: The Marshall Kilburn.
Marshall Kilburn. One feature that we really liked on the Marshall Kilburn was the nice carrying strap with the treble and bass knobs on the top which looked really classy and vintage. This brings back the “old-school” feeling when using this speaker, and we really liked the option of adjusting the bass and treble settings on the speaker itself. Adjusting the bass settings to maximum output can make the bass feel extremely deep and somewhat overwhelming at times, which is pretty incredible considering the small compact size of this speaker. The wireless connectivity on the Marshall Kilburn was very good and paired with our mobile device instantly; the connection is stable and does not have any performance dips while streaming music. The Marshall Kilburn is a little on the larger side and heavy to carry around with a weight of slightly under 7lbs. It has a dimension of 9.5 inches x 5.5 inches x 5.5 inches.
Marshall Acton. The Marshall Acton looks virtually the same as the Kilburn, with its classic vintage design with excellent build and construction quality. It is not built for portability and does not come with a built-in battery; it also naturally does not come with the carrying strap that the Kilburn has. We absolutely loved the design of the Acton with the gold accents on the bass, treble and volume bottoms. The power button has a nice click sound to it when switching the Acton speaker on and off. The speaker grilles look very high quality and have an overall solid construction which makes it feel durable. It has speaker dimensions of 10.4 inches x 6.2 inches x 5.9 inches. Although the Marshall Acton is slightly larger than the Kilburn in size, they look really similar in quality and design apart from the minor differences mentioned above.
The Winner: Draw – both speakers have excellent design and quality construction on par with each other.
Connections, Battery Life and Portability
Marshall Kilburn. The Marshall Kilburn comes with an auxiliary input for non-wireless sources, although we would recommend running this with a USB sound amplifier to push the speaker drivers for the best sound. Running your audio sources through an amplifier will greatly enhance the sound performance through the Marshall speaker, although this may be a slight hassle to set up. We would recommend using an amplifier if you are considering driving this speaker using an aux input rather than through the wireless connection. The battery life on this speaker is nothing short of phenomenal and you can get an incredible 20 hours of solid music performance before having to recharge this speaker. That being said, the Marshall Kilburn does not have any USB charging cable and needs to be charged using a power adapter.
Marshall Acton. The Marshal Acton uses the standard auxiliary inputs for music input and Bluetooth connections. It does not support any RCA audio inputs. The key difference that the Acton has from the Kilburn is that it does not run on battery and requires a dedicated power supply – it is built as a non-portable Bluetooth speaker. This is great if you simply want to keep the speaker at home without taking it around with you. However, we feel that this is quite a disadvantage considering how compact the Acton speaker is compared to the size of the Kilburn – it would definitely benefit from having an integrated battery installed. It’s a great speaker but does not have the same versatility as the Kilburn offers.
The Winner: Marshall Kilburn
We were extremely impressed with both the sound performance and design of the Marshall Kilburn Bluetooth speaker and the Marshall Acton Bluetooth speaker. We felt that every single detail about these speakers were carefully thought out by the manufacturers – from the carefully crafted vintage design to the elegant knobs on the top of the speaker and brilliant sound performance, we were simply blown away by the attention to detail and the classy vintage design. The sound performance on the Marshall Kilburn was very good, with crisp highs, detailed midrange and very good low end frequency reproduction, and slightly better than the Marshall Acton in that it produces fuller-range sound. That being said, the Acton has more power from a pure wattage perspective although with less bass impact with a more analytical and studio-like sound signature. Apart from this, we also liked the option of being able to adjust the volume, bass and treble through the knobs on the top of both speakers and the knobs looked very stylish and pretty amazing. The Marshall Kilburn comes with a nice leather strap which you can use to transport the speaker around conveniently, which is a slight advantage over the Marshall Acton. Overall, we find that the Marshall Kilburn is a better value investment due to its sound performance and greater portability with superb 20 hours of battery life. The sound performance of the Marshall Kilburn is also slightly more punchy on the low-end as compared to the Acton. While the Marshall Acton is slightly larger and has a higher power rating, it ultimately lacks the portability and versatility that the Kilburn offers and requires a dedicated power source to stream music.
Overall Winner: The Marshall Kilburn
If you are looking for the most powerful Bluetooth speakers that are capable of producing massive volume output, be sure to check out our updated list of best Bluetooth speakers here.