Best answer: You can get a decent Bluetooth speaker for under $100, but if you're looking for a more powerful option for outdoor parties or lounging at the pool, the Marshall Kilburn II is the perfect choice. Its room-filling sound, IPX2 water resistance, 20-hour battery life, and easy portability make it one of the best Bluetooth speakers around.
Amazon: Marshall Kilburn II ($249)
Why the Marshall Kilburn II is the perfect portable Bluetooth speaker
The first-gen Kilburn was a great Bluetooth speaker, and with the Kilburn II Marshall rolled out a slew of upgrades that make it an even better option. There's a new design for the front fret that gives it more character, and Marshall has done a magnificent job retaining that retro styling.
There are three analog knobs at the top that add to the design flair. You'll be able to adjust the volume, bass, and treble with the knobs, but the dedicated volume on/off toggle from the previous generation is no longer present. Instead, you turn the volume knob for switching on the speaker, and there is now a battery level indicator where the power toggle used to be located.
The first-gen Kilburn featured two 5W tweeters and a single 15W woofer, whereas the Kilburn II has two 8W tweeters paired to a 20W woofer. Marshall has changed the orientation of the tweeters as well: the Kilburn II has one positioned at the front and one at the back to produce multi-directional sound. Bluetooth 5.0 is standard along with AptX, and the Kilburn II can be connected to two devices at once.
The larger drivers make the Kilburn II one of the loudest portable Bluetooth speakers available today. You get a delightfully warm soundstage that's perfect for listening to rock ballads and retro hits, but it also delivers an impressive amount of bass.
And even though it is more powerful than the first-gen model, Marshall has managed to bring down the weight from 6.6lbs to 5.5lbs. That said, the Kilburn II is still quite heavy, and as such you get a strap that makes it more convenient to carry it around. On the subject of portability, Marshall has added corner caps to make the Kilburn II more durable, and the speaker is IPX2 water resistant, which means it'll withstand the occasional splash of water.
You get well over 20 hours of listening time from a full charge, and the Kilburn II also has fast charging that delivers over two hours' worth of music playback from a 20-minute charge. The speaker's styling won't be to everyone's tastes, but if you're like me and grew up listening to music that featured neverending guitar riffs and keyboard solos, the Kilburn II is the Bluetooth speaker you've been waiting for.
Looks good, sounds even better.
There are few speakers that look as good as the Kilburn II, and even fewer that sound as good. With 36W of room-filling sound backed by the convenience of Bluetooth 5.0 and AptX, the Kilburn II is the ideal choice if you want a portable speaker with long-lasting battery life.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.