Top positive review
Decent Bluetooth. Brilliant sound hooked up to neutral Amp/DAC.
January 14, 2016
Whether you like this speaker or not will mainly depend on what you are using it for. For my uses this speaker is darn near perfect.
I'm a mail carrier and spends roughly 4-5 hours a day in a mail truck. I'd been using a very good portable speaker called iLoud from IK Multimedia. It's not a big name like Bose or JBL so it flies under the radar. If your looking for a smaller, lighter speaker.. it's the best in it's class for sound quality IMO. One of the few things I didn't like about it believe it or not was the weight. It kept tipping over when taking sharp corners or running over bumps. The Kilburn is solid as a rock in this respect and rarely moves even doing a 360 on Ice. The 6.6 pounds makes this perfect for travel use and likely won't tip over if it's on a solid flat surface.
IK iLoud VS. Marshall Kilburn:
The iLoud was my previously owned speaker. Some people would say it's not fair to compare a 6.5 Pound speaker to a 3 pound speaker but they both retail for $300. So keep that in mind. Although the iLoud sounds amazingly good for it's size, it can't compete with the very clean and near distortion-free sound of the Kilburn. But it is expected being the Kilburn weighs over twice as much and is twice as deep as the iLoud. The Treble on the iLoud is very good and arguably better in some respects than Kilburn at times. Though it gets blaring and distorted at louder volumes. Bass is considerably better on the Kilburn. However highs are pretty even on both and the iLoud seems to have a slightly better mid-range. But if you listen to rock or anything that uses Bass it's worth the tradeoff IMO for a slightly weaker midrange.
The only real disadvantage of the Kilburn is that it has only One Woofer vs. the Two in the iLoud. However the Kilburn uses a 4" Woofer, while the iLoud uses Two 3" Woofers. The downside is the speaker sounds a little Mono because of only one woofer but the Two Tweeters help simulate Stereo well enough. The upside is that you get deeper, cleaner Bass with less distortion. Since you can't really hear much Stereo separation much anyway on a single speaker, I think it's a good tradeoff.
Despite being heavier I find the Kilburn easier to carry around because of it's handle. The iLoud does not have a handle and uses a somewhat flimsy kick-stand to help keep the speaker from tipping over. It is however angled upward slightly which aims the music at your ears better for a desk or my mail vehicle. However you can easily create your own little wooden stand like I did, to fix that issue.
I'm not the biggest fan of Bluetooth. For one the sound is compressed and will never match a direct connection. Another is that it's not that reliable no matter how good the devices connection is and can easily be interfered with by nearby devices using a similar frequency. It's nice to have though for those times you just want to listen to music in a pinch and just want an easy hookup. On Bluetooth the music sounded a bit dark and missing some sparkle in my opinion. Though I've heard lots of people complaining about poor Bluetooth reception, I was able to go outside and still maintain a connection through a wall from near 50 ft. away. So in the few times I used it, it worked very well with few interruptions.
If you really want to hear what this speaker is capable of though, you MUST run it through a Neutral AMP and USB DAC. Hook this up through an Amp that doesn't color the sound that also has a DAC that doesn't color the sound and you actually hear what the speaker was designed to sound like. Bass, Mids and Highs sounds marvelous. Another bonus is that depending on the Amp/Dac your hooking it up to will be able to push the speaker to it's limits beyond the limited volume you get from using a Phones Amp for example. The problem with a Phone Amp is that pretty much all of them change the sound to overemphasize the bass and treble. They do this because they are mainly designed to push small earbuds that have poor sound quality and need the boost to get decent sound out of them. This is a bad thing when hooking up to a bigger speaker that does not need any boost. The difference between using a USB DAC through your Phone VS. Bluetooth is Night and Day. The Bass is much cleaner and the Treble is far more clear. Do yourself a favor and pick up an Objective2 Usb DAC and Amp if you want premium sound on the GO. It's a bit more hassle to setup but worth it especially for a long stay at a Hotel or something.
This speaker honestly almost rivals my main bookshelf speakers in some aspects of it's sound quality. Especially in the Bass department as it gets deeper. Sounds pretty good without a subwoofer in a small room. You can feel the Bass penetrate your body at loud volumes. Of course it will always sound better with a Sub particularity in a larger room. The Midrange and Highs are still a bit better on my bookshelfs but pretty darn good for a portable. Oh and the Knobs! There is no excuse for every speaker not to have Bass and Treble knobs for the songs that too much treble or bass, it's a simple quick adjustment.
Best battery I've seen in a portable speaker yet. At least for a wired connection. I still haven't ran it to low battery and have played it for 12+ hours at or beyond max volume. I generally only need 6 hours at a time for my uses, so this is excellent to me. I'm sure on Bluetooth it doesn't last quite as long but I don't personally use it that often.
Now for only a couple minor annoyance that I had to dock a star for. Another reviewer correctly pointed out that there is a slight volume fluctuation with this speaker at loud volumes on certain songs. However it's not really noticeable unless you have your ear right up to the speaker at loud volumes. From a distance you do not hear it at all. Not nearly bad enough to be a deal breaker for me. This is still disappointing and should not happen with a $300 speaker that is so good in almost every other respect. One other issue is that iPods/Phones generally do not have enough power to drive the speaker properly. You need to be on almost max volume just to get near the speakers potential and then you get some distortion for maxing out the phones amp. Also the speaker sounds somewhat Mono because of the single (although great) Woofer. I'm willing to deal with these slight issues because it's the perfect speaker in almost every other way and I prefer direct USB audio anyway. If this speaker lasts I'll be quite happy. We'll have to see..
Bottom Line: You'll love this speaker if you listen to Classic Rock, Easy Listening, Hip Hop, most types of music and looking for a good hallway speaker. You probably won't care for it if your just looking for a Bluetooth speaker that is light, weather proof and not that serious about sound.
UPDATE: September 5th, 2016
Maybe the speaker wasn't broken in when I first used it or it may have been bad equalizer settings causing clipping but I haven't been hearing the volume fluctuate like I thought may have been happening when I first got it. I'm still amazed how well this box pumps out the sound, how well the battery has held up, and how durable it has been. I actually foolishly dropped it from about 5 feet onto a tar road when hauling it out to my work vehicle (albeit in a well protected case) but it did absolutely no damage and sounds better than ever since. The only thing I could possibly knock the speaker is being able to hear some static fuzz at loud volumes but it's tolerable and not uncommon for many speakers. You don't hear it anyway, unless listening in a completely silent room. Sound Quality is superb with rock songs especially.
With newer portable devices, I haven't found it necessary to add any extra hardware other than the 3.5mm cable to connect to my smartphone.
UPDATE #2: September 22nd, 2018
I simply can't believe it's been over 2 and 1/2 years since I've had this speaker already. At this point in time I was prepared to tell you how the new battery installation went.. but the battery is still going strong with no sign of getting weaker yet. I've heard a fair amount of people talking about a failing battery with little use or other issues. Guess I'm lucky because this speaker has been amazing in every way. This speaker has stood the test of time so far and I don't see any reason it wouldn't last another 10 years. Treble is still sharp as ever and Bass is powerful/clear as you could expect from a portable this size. You need to be in a small compact room with good acoustics to get the absolute best out of this baby. This kind of quality is rare in this day and age. Because of this I'm updating my original rating from 4 Stars to 5.