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Even though its pretty small, the Marshall Kilburn 2 packs an impressive amount of sound and a long battery life in a very small package. And even though there is a lot to like about the Marshall Kilburn 2… there are just some things about it that just make me wondering what the heck was Marshall thinking. Heres everything I like about the Marshall Kilburn 2 and everything I hate about the Marshall Kilburn 2.
The Kilburn 2 is Marshall’s largest portable bluetooth speaker and retails for $300. And even though it looks basically identical to all of Marshall’s other speakers, the easiest way to point out a Kilburn 2 is by the built in carrying handle. If you want to pick this speaker up I’ll have links in the description below and if you use the links it really help out the channel. I suggest you check them out cause you never know when this speaker will go on sale.
Where most speaker manufactures these days are wrapping their speakers in a brightly colored fabric mesh or building in a light feature, Marshall insists on using the same classic design that has lasted them for decades… and by no means is that bad thing. The Marshall Kilburn 2 is a very good looking speaker in its own right and it can be a great option for someone who wants something that looks a little more sophisticated. The Kilburn 2 has a solid metal grill on the front, a hard rubberized body that’s made to look like tumbled leather, and a non removable carrying strap thats lined in red velvet. Now this carrying strap does feel pretty sturdy and has a good amount of stretch to it… but only time will tell how it will actually stand up to regular use if you constantly take it on the go with you. Now even though the Kilburn 2 has a pretty tough exterior that should have no problem standing up to constant bumps and scrapes, you should play it safe and keep it away from water since its only rocking an IPX2 rating.
When it comes to specs and ports, the Kilburn 2 charges via a 2 prong charging cable. Now even though yes obviously it would have been much better if this speaker charged via a USB C port, the Kilburn 2 actually has fast charging… something that not a lot of other speakers have. If you plug this speaker in for 20 minutes from a dead battery you’re going to get 3 hours of playback time. And I’ve been asking for fast charging in portable speakers for awhile now so its cool to finally see it here. The Kilburn 2 also keeps the audio jack, which is great to see cause some other manufactures are starting to get rid of the audio jack even on their larger speakers. Namely the UE Megaboom3 and Sony XB501G. But I do wish the Kilburn 2 had a USB A out port or USB C port so you can charge your own devices when you’re out and about.
But thankfully, the Kilburn 2 is rocking bluetooth 5.0 instead of bluetooth 4.2 like most other recently released speakers. And if you’re an android user this speaker also supports AptX HD which is good, and this speaker can be connected to 2 devices at the same time which is more good if you’re a power user. And if you’re an iPhone user, this speaker also has very little latency when watching youtube videos. Its still there, but more usable than most. Basically Marshall managed to tick off all of the right boxes when it comes to wireless connectivity on this speaker.
Battery life on this speaker is also pretty impressive. Marshall advertises a 20 hour plus battery life on the Kilburn 2 and in my testing with the volume set at 80% this speaker managed to average 11 hours of playback time. But that was with the bass knob set to five and with the treble set to seven. I tried to give the Kilburn a “JBL” sound signature cause I wanted to see how its battery life compared to the JBL Xtreme2. If you use this speaker at a higher bass setting then your battery is going to drain faster.
Now having the control knobs on top of the Kilburn 2 is both awesome and infuriating. On one hand I love that I can adjust the bass and treble directly on the speaker, I don’t have to go through the extra step and open up an app on my phone. When ever I’m going to listen to music I like to crank the bass up and when im going to listen to a podcast I crank the bass down. But I hate that the volume knob is only local to the speaker, its not actually adjusting the volume on your phone. So when I power the Kilburn 2 on I just crank the volume up all the way to ten. Easy fix, no problem. But what drives me mad about this speaker is that it doesn’t have a multifunction button to play or pause your music or to skip a track. When I first got this speaker I assumed this button was a multifunction button but its not. You can only press and hold it to put the speaker into pairing mode. I don’t get why Marshall just didn’t add a multifunction button on this speaker when all of their other speakers have them. Like I’ve said in the past, I absolutely hate when manufactures limit physical controls on their devices. Not have a multifunction button on this speaker isn’t just an inconvenience, its stupid.
Ok, now that I got that out of my system lets talk about speaker set up. The Kilburn 2 is a 36 watt speaker with a single frontward firing woofer and dual tweeters. Now theres a bass reflector that shoots a good amount of that delicious bass out the back of this speaker so you are going to notice a good amount of performance improvement if you use this speaker up against a wall. We’re about to jump into a sound test, im going to be using the older JBL Xtreme 1 cause it has JBL’s older brighter sound signature and im going to be using the JBL Boombox in indoors mode cause it was heavily requested. And the Kilburn 2 is going to be playing with its volume knob set to 10, bass set to 5 and the treble set to 7.
Like I said earlier, the Kilburn 2 sounds very impressive for its size. Distortion is basically non existent at max volume and if you want it to it can have as almost as much bass as the JBL boombox if you crank the bass up higher. But I cant help but feel that its instrument separation and sound stage could better. Bass is not a problem on the kilburn 2 but everything just sounds very close together compared to JBL’s older and new speakers. The Kilburn 2 by no mean sounds muddy, but when instrumentals really get going everything just tends to blend together. But over all the Marshal Kilburn 2 is a decent sounding speaker that gets more than loud enough at max volume.
And thats pretty much it when it comes to Marshall Kilburn 2. Unlike most other speakers out there these days, the Kilburn 2 doesn’t have any sort of companion app and you cant pair it up to any other Marshall speakers so you can get them to play in sync or stereo mode. The Kilburn 2 has zero gimmicks, it's all about enjoying your music. And for that reason, I think the Marshall Kilburn 2 is another great speaker if you just want one speaker. I really like the Kilburn 2’s classic design and its a really nice departure from all of the other fabric mesh speakers I’ve reviewed so far. It has a very long battery life just as long as you have the bass turned down, and I really like that it has fast charging. Something that I hope starts to catch on. And the bass in this speaker is very impressive given its size, but I just wish instrument separation was better. But what really sets this speaker back for me is its lack of a multifunction button. Its like Marshall knew they had an awesome product on their hands but decided to handicap them selves by getting rid of that multifunction button.