Marshall Stockwell I vs II: Some Features Lost, but a Major Upgrade in Sound

The first version of the Marshall Stockwell got overall praise from reviewers, though it certainly didn’t please everyone. The features and design changed quite a bit for the Marshall Stockwell II, so we were immediately curious to see how they compare in terms of performance.

Would the new Stockwell II be worth upgrading to? Should you get the old Stockwell if the price drops for clearance?

We’ll cover all that below, but first, a quick side-by-side rundown of our take and the differences.

Note that the Stockwell II is the smallest of the Marshall portable offerings; we’ve also done a full review comparing the Stockwell II to the larger Marshall Kilburn II and Tufton.

Update History of This Article

This article was first published on Sept. 13, 2019.

Side-by-Side Comparison: The Marshall Stockwell I (Original) vs. the Marshall Stockwell II

Critical Meta-Review: How the Marshall Stockwell II Sounds Compared to its Predecessor

On paper, the Marshall Stockwell II can actually seem like a bit of a downgrade from the Stockwell I. Just look at the feature changes:

  • The Stockwell II lacks a speakerphone function, which was included on the original Stockwell. We’ve been noting the uselessness of this feature for speakers for years on this site, so we’re hardly complaining. You have a speakerphone function on your phone already and that works just fine. The Stockwell I’s speakerphone had some clarity and connection issues in any case.
  • The Stockwell II lacks a USB-out charging port. This is too bad, as it can be a very convenient way to charge your phone if you’re away from a power source. The Stockwell I has this.
  • For loudness, Marshall claims that the Stockwell I goes to 90 dB SPL @ 1 m vs 80 for the Stockwell II. However, most critics found that the Stockwell I distorted a bit at top volumes and that the Stockwell II sounds excellent, though it doesn’t go so loud. If you want a louder speaker, you should really consider upgrading a bit in size and price to the Marshall Kilburn II.
  • The Stockwell II is a bit larger and heavier than the original, at 3.04 lbs. (1.38 kg.).
  • The Stockwell I had a claimed battery life of 25 hours vs. “20+” hours for the Stockwell II. However, some testers have reported that the Stockwell I lasts for much less and the Stockwell II for much longer. Results will depend quite a bit on the volume of use.
  • The Stockwell II charges via modern USB-C (like the latest mobile phones and laptops) vs a standard wall charger for the original Stockwell I.

But features don’t tell the whole story. Speakers don’t need to do much more than sound great, after all. The feature differences above will be incidental for most users, we think.

The original Marshall Stockwell I got some generally good reviews from critics and consumer organizations, who especially emphasized its enormous power and loudness for a small-sized speaker. Some found the sound full and clear, but a number complained also of distortion at highest volumes, and not everyone loved the sound or felt that it was worth the price.

The Marshall Stockwell II is a bit bigger than the original but has a convenient carry strap.

Speaker obsessives and tech reviewers have thus far given the Stockwell II much higher marks overall. In fact one who thought that the original Stockwell sounded “just horrible” felt that the upgraded Stockwell II is the best portable speaker of 2019, as it has a totally different type of sound.

The Stockwell II does what Marshall calls multidirectional stereo; the left and right channels are pointed slightly differently and mixed in such a way as to enhance a feeling of immersion and stereo sound from such a small unit. It can sound great outside, but even better in a room placed not too far from a corner or a wall, to give a little more oomph to the bass coming out the back of the speaker.

But the multidirectionality of the Stockwell II also works well; place it in the middle of a party and it will sound relatively good and even no matter which side of it you’re standing on.

The Stockwell II is not the best speaker for loudness (that would be larger, louder speakers) but it does go plenty loud enough to fill a mid-sized interior space, and can even do a pretty good job in a large space.

As with the Stockwell I, the mix of the Stockwell II is quite neutral, but there’s a lot more clarity in the upgrade. The bass in the upgrade isn’t listed as going as deep, but it certainly sounds heavier and punchier and doesn’t distort.

The control knobs on the Marshall Stockwell II.

Both the original and upgraded Stockwell have actual analog knobs that allow you to adjust the volume, bass, and treble directly on the speaker. This is actually a quite useful and pleasant feature; no digging into the app on your phone to find equalizer settings. It can allow for real-world on-the-fly adjustments that make the listening experience better and smoother.

Neither Stockwell speaker is truly travel-friendly in terms of portability; we think 2.65-3 kilos is too heavy to take in a carry-on and have space for much else. If you’d prefer something more compact and lighter, check out our favorite travel speaker recommendations. Those are also generally a bit cheaper as well, if the price of the Stockwells is a concern.

Wrap-Up: Which Small Marshall Stockwell Is Right for You?

Prices can swing a bit on these Marshall speakers, click through at the links and check different options there for the latest.

Marshall Stockwell
Because of the complaints about clarity and distortion at top volumes, we wouldn’t recommend the original version of this speaker unless it were to significantly drop in price, say below $50.
Marshall Stockwell II
A vast improvement in terms of clarity, evenness, and multidirectional stereo. The best-sounding speaker of its size and price.