The Marshall Acton III wireless speaker follows in the footsteps of previous models

The Marshall Acton III wireless speaker follows in the footsteps of previous models

Manufacturing

Visually, the Acton III differs little from the previous model: the mesh cloth grille is slightly darker and the copper band on the front is thinner. It is also 1 cm deeper (26 x 17 x 15 cm) and the same weight (2.85 kg). Other than these few differences, the Acton III is identical to its predecessor in all respects.

The perimeter of the enclosure is still made with an emblematic leather-like plastic in “tolex” style. The controls are placed on top of the case, on a brushed aluminum plate with a touch of silicone around the three potentiometers. The Acton III also always rests on four small rubber feet for a perfect grip on the stand.

Marshall advertises that 70% of the plastic it uses to make its speaker comes from recycling.

Marshall advertises that 70% of the plastic it uses to make its speaker comes from recycling.

If the speaker’s appearance can be up for debate, its build quality and finish will have everyone agreeing. The only visible traces of mounting are the screws holding the back plate and the perimeter joint below the enclosure, but this remains very inconspicuous.

Editor rating: 4 out of 5

Audio

The Acton III uses an acoustic architecture similar to that of the Acton II Voice, consisting of a wideband center speaker supported by two tweeters. The sound performance of this stereo system is therefore very similar, with a powerful reproduction that benefits from a good extension in the treble and bass.

Frequency response measurement (calibration at 85 dB at 1 kHz at 1 m).  Potentiometers in the center (black curve), Bass at 10/Treble at 1 (purple curve), Bass at 1/Treble at 10 (orange curve).

Frequency response measurement (calibration at 85 dB at 1 kHz at 1 m). Potentiometers in the center (black curve), Bass at 10/Treble at 1 (purple curve), Bass at 1/Treble at 10 (orange curve).

By default, the bass overemphasis, its appearance rumbling and “getting inside” damages the sound balance. Fortunately, it is possible to curb this excess power in the lower part of the spectrum by acting on the potentiometer provided for this purpose to find a much more balanced sound, without losing depth and depth. Note that the bass shows very good precision: kick drum hits or bass lines are faithfully transcribed.

The same can’t really be said for midrange and low-midrange reproduction, whose accuracy isn’t all that exemplary, especially when the speaker is really put to the test. If the Acton III does well on songs with an extremely chiseled mix (Frankenstein by Marcus Miller), the reproduction of certain “thicker” pieces, richer in harmonics (bat country from Avenged Sevenfold or Evolve by Julián Calor), is then more disorganized: the different instruments mix with each other and it is very difficult to distinguish them clearly. The voices are perfectly intelligible -although sometimes they can take up too much space- and their timbre is correctly respected.

Harmonic distortion rate measurement (calibration at 85 dB at 1 kHz at 1 m).

Harmonic distortion rate measurement (calibration at 85 dB at 1 kHz at 1 m).

The Acton III benefits from excellent treble extension, but here again the precision is not ideal. Some cymbals can suggest brittle playing and snare hits sound a bit too harsh. We feel a certain lack of naturalness in the reproduction of treble and it is possible to detect certain effects of sibilance (aggressive reproduction of sounds [s], [f] Y [ʃ]) by pushing the envelope to the limit (above the 90% mark). The Acton III also packs some pretty phenomenal power for its small size. Therefore, you will have no problem enjoying your content in a good-sized room, such as a living room, dining room or large bedroom.

Frequency response measurement (calibration at 85 dB at 1 kHz at 1 m).  Measurement microphone in front of the box (black curve), placed at an angle of +45° (purple curve) and an angle of -45° (orange curve).

Frequency response measurement (calibration at 85 dB at 1 kHz at 1 m). Measurement microphone in front of the box (black curve), placed at an angle of +45° (purple curve) and an angle of -45° (orange curve).

One of the novelties of this third iteration lies in the inclination of the two tweeters, supposedly to expand the stereo scene. It is clear that this arrangement has no real effect on the pronounced directivity of the enclosure. Room effects and other reverb phenomena sound fine, but the soundstage is still confined to the physical confines of the venue.

Frequency response measurement (calibration at 85 dB at 1 kHz at 1 m).  No location compensation (black curve), table/wall compensation (orange curve), corner compensation (blue curve).

Frequency response measurement (calibration at 85 dB at 1 kHz at 1 m). No location compensation (black curve), table/wall compensation (orange curve), corner compensation (blue curve).

This third version also differs from the second by the addition of settings intended to counteract undesirable resonances (standing waves) in the low frequencies when the speaker is placed close to a wall or corner; which is even more relevant since its bass-reflex port is placed on the back. These “placement offsets”, as Marshall calls them, apply a more or less pronounced EQ on the bass to stop this phenomenon which is relevant in practice.

Strengths

  • Powerful and balanced sound signature (after user intervention).

  • Deep and accurate bass.

  • Ease of use and comprehensive controls.

  • Impeccable level of manufacture.

Weak points

  • Perfectible precision of mids and highs.

  • Directivity that remains pronounced, despite the tilt of the tweeters.

  • Limited connection possibilities.

  • High latency in Bluetooth communication.

conclusion

we tried we liked
global brand

Editor rating: 4 out of 5

How does the rating work?

The Acton III does not reinvent the wheel and is content to follow in the footsteps of the second version. The new features don’t add much in the end, with the exception of the location offset option, which is welcome here. Devoid of any functionality, particularly connected, and offering few connection possibilities, the Acton III remains a sedentary speaker that is fully recommended for those who want to enjoy their music in peace. Its clean design, childlike handling and punchy sound reproduction will inevitably make people happy.

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