Marshall Tufton Bluetooth speaker review: Loud, thumpy, with a long-life battery, but pricey and lacking in amenities

The Tufton is the latest Marshall Bluetooth speaker to cross TechHive’s portal. It’s a large, loud, bass-pumping, but bare-bones unit designed for outdoor and party use. It sounds decent and its build quality is top-notch, but its $400 MSRP is a fair amount of coin for an oddball stereo implementation, no buttons to control playback or handling phone calls, and no ability to charge other devices.

It’s worth noting that Amazon was selling the Tufton for $330 as I was writing this review, and the manufacturer was throwing in a free pair of its Major III Bluetooth headphones if you buy it direct.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best Bluetooth speakers, where you’ll find reviews of competing products, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping.

Design and features

The styling of the Marshall Tufton is a nod to…. Well, to be honest, I’m not sure. It has the Marshall logo, tweed grill, and Tolex covering, but it’s too skinny to be a combo amp, and it doesn’t mimic the iconic Marshall stack, either. That said, it absolutely does shout Marshall if that’s what you’re after.

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The Marshall Tufton is a hefty speaker, but its broad carrying strap make it easy to tote.

I mentioned that the Tufton is on the large side, measuring approximately 14 x 9 x 6.5 inches (HxWxD) and weighing slightly less than 11 pounds. That heft reflects very sturdy MDF construction and heavy-duty components. The back, held in place by high-quality screws, comes off, and for several reasons, I took a peek inside. A bit more on that later. The wide and durable carrying strap makes it actually feel a little lighter than the advertised weight, but it’s certainly not for hiking.

Audio is facilitated by a four-way Class D amplifier: A 40-watt section to drive a single 5.25-inch woofer, two 15-watt sections to drive a pair of 2.0-inch mid-range drivers, a 10-watt section to power the Tufton’s single 0.63-inch dome tweeter. Don’t let the dual mid-range speakers fool you, the Tufton is not stereo as you might expect it. One of the mid-range drivers faces backward, and while the mids in a stereo signal are split between them, the high frequencies and low-end are not. More on how it sounds in a bit. Speaking of low-end, the unit is ported for bass response and it’s quite effective.

The Tufton has just four controls: Volume/On/Off, treble, and bass knobs, and the Bluetooth pairing button, but they’re silky smooth and solid feeling—Marshall didn’t cheap  out in terms of quality on any level. Even with the Bluetooth, which is version 5.0 for better range.

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The Marshall Tufton is a basic speaker that’s intended only for playback.

The absence of play/pause and skip forward/back controls means you can’t use the Tufton to control playback from a Bluetooth source. And since there’s no mic onboard, you can’t use it as a speakerphone, either.  Admittedly, those are minor concerns given the speaker’s intended role; but given the price, it seems a bit penny-pinching.

The Tufton is rated IPX2, meaning a few drops of liquid shouldn’t do it much harm, but don’t take it in the pool or leave it out in the rain (you can read more about IP codes here). A captive rubber plug covers the two-prong connector for the power cord and its 3.5mm aux input, but again, it’s a guard a against showers, not immersion.