The Marshall Uxbridge Voice is a small, but powerful smart-speaker with Alexa built-in that will look amazing no matter where you place it in your home.
The Uxbridge Voice is incredibly distinctive in the iconic Marshall retro music amp style that you either or dislike or adore. I personally fall into the latter camp although I do love minimalistic shapes and designs too. The current crop of smart speakers from Amazon has a contemporary design esthetic, but if you’re looking for something a little different, then the Uxbridge Voice may be worth a look.
Classic details such as salt and pepper fret and the iconic Marshall script logo adorn the sturdy frame of Uxbridge Voice. The top is a square shape with new guitar fret-inspired rocker buttons for volume, bass and treble. I love these clicky physical controls and the four LED lights located on a strip at the base of the front of the speaker grill, which indicated things like volume, bass and treble levels. The four lights will indicate when Alexa is actively listening and flash yellow for a new notification or stay red when you mute the mic.
You can also tweak Bass, Low, Mid, Upper and Treble individually or pick one of the preset equaliser settings in the Marshal ‘Voice’ app available for both Android and iOS.
As with all Alexa enabled devices you first need to link it to your Amazon Alexa account, which is a quick and easy process. There’s also no additional power adapter, instead, you get a standard figure-eight cable since the power transformer is housed in the speaker itself.
Once that’s sorted you can use the Uxbridge Voice to control all of your smart-home devices including lights, thermostats, smart plugs and so on. However, this smart speaker begs to have music played through it. It has a very different sound signature over any of the Amazon Alexa speakers and in a good way.
Also on the top of the speaker is an incredibly handy pause/play button. I mostly used the speaker on my desk to listen to music, podcasts and radio shows. The convenience of being able to quickly mute the speaker to receive a call or just to concentrate on something was fantastic. On the opposite side is the mic mute on/off button, which stops Alexa from listening.
Despite its relatively small size of 128 x 168 x 123 mm and weighing in at 1.39kg, the Uxbridge Voice is engineered to create a thunderous sound from its compact frame and large four rubber feet. Marshall uses an advanced setup with high-end components combining to deliver excellent sound clarity, with deep bass that doesn’t distort even at max volume. The treble end doesn’t reach shrill highs, which I like and the mids are nice and mellow.
On the downside, unlike all the Amazon Echo speakers, there’s no 3.5mm jack. However, the Uxbridge more than makes up for this with Bluetooth (4.2), Apple Airplay 2 and Spotify Connect a feature where you can listen on speakers, TVs, and other devices using the Spotify app as a remote. I have other Airplay 2 speakers and was able to connect to these along with the Uxbridge Voice for a simple and easy-to-use multi-room speaker setup from my iPhone or iPad. A nice setup would be two of these as a stereo pair for home cinema or just chilling while listening to your favourite tunes.
I wasn’t able to use the Alexa app to create speaker groups with the Uxbridge Voice to achieve a multi-room speaker setup like I can with other Echo devices. However, the feature is promised in a future update.
The Marshall Uxbridge Voice features a far-field microphone array for smart voice recognition and noise cancellation. It can pick-up your voice from across a room and even while it’s playing music, as long as the sound isn’t very loud. This worked well most of the time, but not quite as good as the Echo during my testing. I found that I had to repeat what I was saying on occasions and the response was a little slower compared to the Echo Plus I had in the same room.
Those who are into the classic look will find a nice place for this smart speaker in a homely environment, but if you’re more into clean and clinical, then look elsewhere. For €199 you get an expensive Amazon Alexa with a big sound and stunning looks.
Available from www.marshallheadphones.com