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‘Tis the season for speakers. Case in point? The music maestros at Marshall today announced new additions to their product lineup — the Kilburn II, Action II Voice, and Stanmore II Voice — which will go on sale later this year. The latter two are Marshall’s first smart speakers: Both tap Amazon’s Alexa Voice service (and soon the Google Assistant) for voice controls and access to tens of thousands of third-party apps.
They’re also the first to fill Marshall Voice, Marshall’s new umbrella brand for premium smart speakers and services. As such, the Action II Voice and Stanmore II Voice feature appropriately high-end components, like class D amplifiers, a “bass reflex” cabinet system, and custom-tuned drivers.
“Marshall Voice combines the legendary sound of Marshall with the power of voice,” the company wrote in a press release. “Play music, schedule reminders, control your smart home, and more — all with your voice.”
Both the Action II Voice and Stanmore II Voice go on sale from October 2, with preorders beginning today. They start at $299 and $399, respectively.
The Kilburn II might lack the smarts of its Marshal Voice brethren, but it makes up for that with a stylish metal speaker grill, a nifty carrying strap, and a suite of technologies designed to enhance dynamic range. The 5.5-pound, portable, water-resistant Bluetooth speaker, which the company says lasts more than 20 hours on a single charge, packs a multi-directional driver system that “[separates] out the spatial content” of stereo recordings and “reassembles [it] in a way that can be projected [outward],” resulting in what Marshall calls “true 360-degree sound.”
Under the hood are a Bluetooth 5.0 chip (with a range of 30 feet) that supports Qualcomm’s aptX codec, 3.5mm and RCA inputs, and a multi-host feature that lets multiple people pair to it simultaneously.
It’s available starting today at a suggested retail price of $299.
Marshall’s first foray into the smart speaker market comes just days after the unveiling of Bose’s Home Speaker 500, a $400 Alexa-powered speaker intended to take on Apple’s HomePod, the Google Home, Amazon’s Echo series, the Sonos Beam, and Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Home.
Luckily for Marshall, demand for smart speakers isn’t showing signs of slowing. Canalys reports that demand grew 187 percent in the second quarter of 2018 and that collectively Apple, Google, Xiaomi, Amazon, and others shipped 16.8 million units, up from 9 million in Q1 2018.
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