British powerhouse Marshall takes their iconic sound into your pocket with a new portable wireless speaker designed after the very same amplifiers that shaped the history of rock’n’roll. Meet the mighty Marshall Willen.
Beefy. Crunching. LOUD. Since their introduction in 1963, Marshall amplifiers have left a footprint on the evolution of popular music. That rugged black box was a technological advancement that pushed the transition of British music from the jangling Merseybeat sound into the thicker, blues-infused brand of hard rock that would have its commercial apogee in the early ‘80s with the New wave of British heavy metal.
It’s thanks to the raucous, heavily distorted, high gain crunch of Marshall amplifiers that rock’n’roll could move from clubs into stadiums. The emblematic serif-font white logo has been behind some of the most seminal artists in history, from Eric Clapton to Jimi Hendrix, from Frank Zappa to Eddie Van Halen. It’s a lineage that carries on to our days, the trusty amps being a staple of arena concerts and seen on tour with artists like Muse and Gorillaz.
Enter the Marshall Willen
Now, with Marshall’s gorgeous new portable speaker the Marshall Willen, you too, can stack your amps and build a monstrous sound of your own.
Stylishly designed to emulate the legendary amps that have defined the sound of rock, the Willen is a 101 x 100 x 40 millimetre box that allows you to blast a mighty sound wherever you go. Built to last just like the Marshall line of amplifiers, the Willen is dust and water-resistant, perfect for outdoor gatherings and small parties.
Made for the road, the Willen counts with 15 plus hours of portable playtime on a single charge. And just a 20-minute charge will give you three hours of music, with full power achieved after three hours of charging.
The multi-purpose speaker also comes with a strap that allows you to fix it to railings or furniture, or even hang it from the roof. This Bluetooth rocking beauty also features a built-in microphone so you can answer or reject calls hands-free.
This speaker’s rugged build is also PVC-free, and 60% of the plastic is post-consumer recycled from used electronics.
“For me, it’s all about the energy, and the confidence to be able to go up there and just do your thing, right?” Gun and Roses guitarist Slash comments in Play it Loud, “So I spend very little time tweaking amps and doing all that shit. I set it up, it takes me five minutes you know.”
Marshall amplifiers have the reputation of being incredibly easy to set up, and the Willen follows suit. You just have to pair and play. Stack Mode is also painless to configure, just add other Willen speakers and your sound will grow so much your neighbors will think you’re hosting Glastonbury in your living room. Combine as many Willens as you like and activate Stack Mode with a touch of the Bluetooth pairing button. As easy as that.
Available in black & brass and cream, the Willen is in my opinion the most beautiful portable speaker on the market today, and certainly the only one that comes with an irresistible rock’n’roll swagger.
You can find the Willen, and more Marshall products at the JB HiFi website.
The legend behind the mighty “Marshall Stack.”
Here on the stage the Marshall noise
Is piercing through your ears
It kicks your ass kicks your face
Exploding feeling nears
Lyrics from ‘Whiplash’, by Metallica.
Marshall’s recent incursion into the market of portable speakers and headsets is not an isolated event. The company has been able to stay relevant for almost six decades thanks to its constant search for innovation and development of new products.
The first Marshall ever made, the JTM-45, introduced a somewhat warm, highly saturated, and gloriously imperfect output very different from that of the amps of the era. At maximum volume, the sound started breaking up, an “ugliness” well exploited by Eric Clapton and the Blues Breakers in their now mythical “Beano” album, and decades later in records like AC/DC’s Ballbreaker.
It was the mid ‘60s and rock demanded more. Gigs were getting bigger, and for guitarists, the 50 watts of power offered by the amp market weren’t going to cut it anymore. Pete Towsend famously pleaded to Marshall’s founder, “Jim, I need bigger weapons!”
Marshall took on the challenge, and technician Ken Bran found a way to create the world’s first 100-watt amplifier. The result was the JTM-45/100, a beast with four power tubes and eight loudspeakers fitted in two 4×12 cabinets, something that was outrageous at the time. The intention was for these cabinets to be placed side by side, but Towsend had ideas of his own.
“What I’ve decided to do is use one 4×12 at the bottom and then I’m going to put another one on top so it’s level with the guitar,” Towsend recalls in the 2014 documentary Play it Loud.
“Oh, no Pete, that’ll fall down, it’ll hurt somebody.” Ken Bran protested, “they’re not meant to be stacked.”
“And that’s exactly what happened,” Towsend reminisces, “I banged it with my guitar, and down it went. But it kept going.”
And thus, the famous “Marshall stack” was born. Guitar virtuosos like Peter Green and Eric Clapton started double stacking their Marshalls, a practice that quickly turned into a symbol of status in the world of rock. Over the years, —even though on-stage volume was rendered obsolete by improved public address systems— the size of the black wall of amps behind the band became an indicator of power, to the point where bands started using absurdly huge arrays of cabinets that included dummies just for show. Something that Spinal Tap would later parody brilliantly in the ‘80s.