The Marshall Major II wired headset has been on the market for a while and has gotten generally favorable reviews within the audio community and for good reason too. It is a nice little on ear headset and the design is great, especially for the musicians out there.
Marshall has been putting some serious effort into marketing themselves recently and you can find them manufacturing bluetooth speakers, in-ear-, on-ear- and over-ear headphones plus they even made their own music inspired phone (which didn’t receive as favorable reviews though).
I was looking for something that could deliver slightly more music than my Jaybird X wireless headset and were a little more portable than my Philips over-ear headphones. I needed some headphones for the intense sessions at the office where focus and isolation is needed…
My point being that many times a brand that strays away from its main product, being Marshall amplifiers in this case, in order to gain market traction they many times license their brand to be put on cheaper and lesser quality hardware, manufactured cheaply somewhere far away. Knowing they will sell just on the brand alone, not bothering with the quality. Well, Marshall seem to have done right by their much respected name. The headphones are actually licensed, designed and manufactured by the Swedish company Zound Industries who are also known for brands such as Urban Ears.
When I found out that they were releasing the Major II bluetooth wireless headset I was eager to try it out since I was looking for something that could deliver slightly more music than my Jaybird X wireless headset and were a little more portable than my Philips over-ear headphones. I needed some headphones for the intense sessions at the office where focus and isolation is needed, but I also wanted to be able to answer calls and to walk around. Enter the Marshall Major II Bluetooth Headphones.
Review of the Marshall Major 2 Bluetooth Headphones:
Major 2 is delivered in a compact, stylish box with the well known Marshall logo and a picture of the cups printed on the front. Included in the box are the headphones (duh!) which look like tiny amps, just like its predecessor, a micro USB charging cable and cable with 3.5mm connectors in both ends. Even the 3.5mm cable looks like an accessory suited for use on a live stage, the coiled cable includes a microphone and a button for answering calls.
It should be noted that you can still answer phone calls when using the headphones wirelessly, there’s a button for that and a microphone in the right cup. The headphones are also easily collapsible within the headband for transportation, which saves up quite some space and protects them.
They promise 30 hours on a full charge, but in my experience they last longer than this, many times closer to 40 hours battery life. That is quite impressive if you ask me!
When you use the cable instead of the bluetooth it won’t drain the battery, unlike some of the competitors out there, something I never really understood. If you decide to use the headphones wirelessly you can plug in another pair of headphones in the 3.5mm connector on the headphones, meaning you can share your music with a friend, partner or a complete stranger on the bus. I like it!
The specs on these headphones are impressive to say the least. They promise 30 hours on a full charge, but in my experience they last longer than this, many times closer to 40 hours battery life. That is quite impressive if you ask me.
On the headphones themselves there is a control knob on the left cup for changing tracks and volume. It takes some getting used to, for me the direction you’re pulling the knob (did that come out creepy? ;)) is kind of hard to get the hang of, but after some practice it shouldn’t be a huge issue.
The tech and wireless:
For charging you have a micro USB-port on the right cup, along with the 3.5mm connector, a status LED (for pairing, confirming on and off) and the actual power button. To pair you click the button twice and wait for a blinking blue light. Without reading the instructions I held this button for about 30s at first trying to pair since that’s what I’m used to on headphones, but anyway, it pays off reading the manual it turns out.
If you’re on your phone and want to switch the headphones over to the computer you need to kill the bluetooth in the phone before you can connect to the headphones from the computer.
I find that the range of these headphones is very good. I tried them both using music only and while in conversation with people, it starts cracking and popping at around 15m away from the computer. For reference I’ve tried many headsets that starts doing that as soon as you put the phone in your pocket. Granted these have been the smaller types (most recently Urbanista Boston) and I assume the antenna is bigger on over-ear headphones, but still.
So far all good. But I do have a couple of gripes with it. Switching connection between the computer and the phone is not as easy as it should be in this day and age. If you’re on your phone and want to switch the headphones over to the computer you need to kill the bluetooth in the phone (or go into the menu and disconnect, but I find that takes longer) before you can connect to the headphones from the computer. It might seem like a small thing, but do this x amount of times each day and it becomes a bit tedious.
For reference the Jaybird X in-ear headphones supports “switching” between different devices, meaning as soon as you’ve done initial pairing you can easily connect from a phone, tablet and computer without mucking about with bluetooth settings and just a friendly voice in your ears saying “connection switched”.
As mentioned above the battery life is excellent, however finding out how much battery is left is not as excellent. On some headsets today you have the opportunity of getting a small icon next to your bluetooth icon giving you a hint if the battery is full, medium or low. The Marshall’s don’t do that, or at least I haven’t heard anything. They do however show a red light when the battery is nearing it’s end. On some headphones you also get a voice warning when the battery is low. Not here.
This makes it a bit of a hit and miss when it comes to predicting when the battery will run out, especially when you are on that 32nd hour and have no idea for how long you have used the headphones in total. As a backup you can still use the included 3.5mm, if you carry that with you, a big if for most people on the move I would assume.
Erik, stop nagging about the techy stuff and get on with the most important part, the sound! OK OK!
Overall I find the listening experience to be really good. The bass is deep but I don’t find it dominating, just enough for my taste…
During testing I have tried it with a range of different music plus podcasts. I listen to most genres be it rock, electronic, blues, well you name it. I find that the headphones work best with what most would associate the brand with, rock / indie-ish (I found rap was good as well, bass heavy). The sound is a bit gritty and when I sat and compared with other my other over-ear headphones I found them sometimes lacking in the mid and higher ranges. This can result in a sound that on some types of music especially with much treble and a focus on the details can sound a bit muffled.
Here are some of the tracks that just works:
- Low Cut Connie – Shake it little Tina
- Whitney – No Woman
- Baauer – Temple Feat. M.I.A & G-Dragon
- Donna Missal – Keep Lying
Sounding a bit muffled in the higher ranges:
- Luna Shadows – Hallelujah California
- Digitalism – Utopia
- Tame Impala – Elephant (yes, there’s some treble there, even though you might not think so at first. ;))
- Bishop – River
As always you can equalize this and adjust it to your liking using your preferable tools and I am nitpicking here, after some usage you tend to not think about it anymore. Overall I find the listening experience to be really good. The bass is deep but I don’t find it dominating, just enough for my taste and I am one that often complains about a lack of bass, but I found this well balanced.
The cups fit nicely over the ears, they shut out sound perfectly fine and I found that the cushions didn’t become uncomfortable even after extended use. It gets warm though, but that comes with the design I think. The headband adjusted perfectly to my liking and it feels sturdy covered in leather which makes it feel genuine.
- Comfy fit, light weight and easily adjustable
- Perfect bass, plays good in all volumes and overall great sound
- Collapsible = portable
- Doesn’t drain battery when listening using the included 3.5mm cable
- Share your music with a complete stranger on the bus (with headphones) using a 3.5mm cable
- Battery life! 30+ hours out of a single charge, closer to 40 hours.
- Microphone and answer button both cabled and on the ear cup (wireless)
- Great design
- Not being able to easily switch bluetooth connection between devices
- The control knob on the headphones can be a bit hard to get used to
- Would be nice with a better indication of when the battery is about to run out
- A bit lacking in the higher ranges, treble can sound muffled
- Would be nice with some more colours like the wired version (Black, Brown, White)
Price: 149EUR ca
All the photos of the Marshall Major II headphones.