July 7, 2020
Up until a few months ago my daily headphones were a pair old of Sony’s. They were cheap, lightweight and had decent sound quality; but they lacked something that’s becoming more and more important as I continue to redefine my personal brand. Style. Most bluetooth headphones in the market either look the same, lack character or make you look like a bloody Star Wars character. The Marshall lineup caught my attention so I decided to give them a try. This review will focus on the Marshall Monitors.
DRIVERS | 40mm Dynamic Drivers
WEIGHT | 9.56oz
PLAYTIME | 30+ hours
CHARGE TIME | 3 hours
SENSITIVITY | 92dB
BLUETOOTH | aptX Codec
BLUETOOTH RANGE | 30ft
WIRED | 3.5mm
*Full specs on the Marshalls website.
Inspired by the legendary amps, the Marshall headphone lineup all have a gritty appeal to them, from the black vinyl to the brass accents. A small brass button on the left cup acts as the control knob for all your core features like volume adjustment and playback. The cast metal bands are all matte black and provide a sturdy and premium feel, and with the folding design they can be stored away with minimal space. Exposed spiral wires add a certain visual appeal the harkens back to the 50 years of heritage which these are inspired by. And the iconic Marshall script adds just a touch of class to round it all out.
In the packaging you get a sexy af 3.5mm detachable cable that you can use to plug into your desktop, phone or iPod Nano from 2005 (don’t judge me). Other than that everything else is pretty basic, usb charging cable & a manual. The packaging itself is pretty fc*kin lame when compared to what’s inside but that doesn’t matter to anyone other than designers – yes we judge packaging.
Overall the quality of the headphones really can’t be understated, whoever designed these knew exactly who the target audience was and what they wanted. While these headphones aren’t noise cancelling, the over-the-ear design offers great passive noise isolation for those who commute a lot or frequent coffee shops.
The overall comfort of these headphones can’t be understated. The headband and ear cups have ample padding allowing you to wear these for hours with no discomfort. The clamping force is strong enough to provide a secure grip but gentle enough that you can forget you’re wearing the headphones once you get into a groove.
Depending on your ear size these can either be extremely comfortable or annoying. For me the ear pads completely envelop my ears – like they should being over-ear models – but for others the pads actually sit on their ears leading to some discomfort over extend periods of time.
The sound profile differs between the headphone lineup, the Monitors are probably the most neutral sounding of the trio. While the Mids & Majors have a very warm, punchy sound with unique old tube amp quality to them. The Monitors offer more dynamic audio. That tube amp quality is still present but much more subtle. The lows, mids and highs all have great separation and clarity without sound too flat.
A good way to think of these are a compromise between Beats (overly bass heavy) and Bose (great clarity). On songs like Jacob Banks’- Worthy or Dermot Kennedy – Moments Passed the bass really comes through without drowning out the mid range and highs.
Voice calls come through fairly clear on both ends. Because these have passive noise isolation, while you’re on a call ambient sounds are amplified. This can be good and bad. If you’re out and about it’s nice to still be aware of your surrounding, but if you’re home or at the office extremely annoying hearing every keystroke or conversation going on. If there was an option to select when this feature is active that would be amazing.
Simplicity was the name of the game when these were designed. With just a few clicks have access to everything via the control on the left cup. Adjusting volume, answering/rejecting call & power on/off are all easily accessible and the controls feel very natural straight out of the box.
The Bluetooth aptx connectivity is a welcome improvement over SBC, essential it just means that there aren’t syncing issues between audio and video when watching videos online. If you’ve ever watched a video and the audio is delayed, this is why. This also gives you about 30 linear feet of distance with no issues, obviously walls will effect this but it’s not too shabby.
A really unique thing about these headphones is the ability to connect another pair or headphones via the 3.5mm port. With most people going the wireless route this feature is more situational that the other features. Is it super useful – not really- but it can be. If you’re on a plane or train and want to watch a movie with someone, no longer do you have to do the one ear per person.
Hear though listening on voice calls, already talked about it.
Things I dislike:
COUNTERFEITS: The main concern with ordering a pair of Marshall headphones is that unless you know what you’re looking for, chances are you will get a fake. The first two pairs I ordered via Amazon & BestBuy were counterfeits – very nice quality but still fake. You can find some really great articles and videos on how to differentiate the two here.
The Knob: This bloody thing has a mind of its own sometimes. The fact that it’s omnidirectional can cause trouble, the up/down and left/right are in a “x” configuration vs a “cross”.
Clamping: Depending on the size of your head these can either be extremely comfortable over long periods of time, or it’ll feel like you head is in a vice. If you wear glasses/sunglasses you will definitely notice the pinch.
Pairing: Sometimes they connect automatically when you turn them on. Sometimes they don’t. #firstworldproblems.
I’ve tried both the Marshall Mids & the Marshall Monitors. Both are great alternatives for those looking for a pair of headphones with more character than the modern/minimal styles that saturate the market today. While the sound quality isn’t as dynamic as Quiet Comfort’s or neutral as the ATH-M50xBT, there is still more than enough to satisfy any audiophile. These things are fc*kin sexy with amazing sound with a unique audio profile sure to thrill anyone in the market for new wireless headphones.