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Marshall Monitor II A.N.C. Headphone - Black

£174.995£349.99Clearance
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Unlike some headphones at this price, the Monitor II ANC don’t have sensors that pause the music when you take them off your ears. Marshall doesn’t provide a hard or semi-hard case with the headphones, either. You only get a soft, canvas bag in the box along with a USB Type-C charging cable and a coiled 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable for analogue connections. In short, you’ll need to be careful when slinging them in a bag or suitcase. They lean slightly heavily on the bass which is great for electronic music and when we were listening to The Weeknd's The Hills, the bass was exceptional while the vocals remained crisp and clear. Which is why it’s pleasing to note that noise cancellation is impressive. Wearing them on a flight, the Monitor II ANC significantly reduced the hum of the plane and passenger noise. With a baby wailing in the seat behind, the headphones nullified the sound to the point where I forgot the baby was even there. The Monitor II ANC couldn’t have been treated to a better audition.

Unfortunately, you will have to sacrifice something for the small size. The earcups are not big enough to cover my ears, then the earpads press against parts of my outer ears. Therefore, my ears still get sore and sweaty after just about 30 minutes. Having said that, the Marshall Monitor headphones are much more comfortable than a majority of on-ear headphones, they just can’t compete with other full-size cans. It is worth noting that the battery is rated for 500 charge cycles, which Marshall says is about eight years of average use, after which the battery will be limited to below 80%. The battery is not replaceable but the headphones are broadly repairable, with replacement ear cups, cables and filters that can be bought from Marshall. That said, I can’t say that I haven’t enjoyed listening to them. Vocals are conveyed with clarity, with mids engaged slightly higher with ANC turned on, making for an involving listen. Plus, there’s a good amount of flow to their energy. Sound quality, on the other hand, is a different matter with bass and mid and high-frequencies all presented in a lively, clean fashion. The Marshal Monitor II eschew the bass-heavy presentation of the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 and don’t sound as warm and punchy as the Sony WH-1000XM3, but there’s still a spaciousness and crispness to the sound that’s rather appealing. Marshall’s most obvious competitor in the headphone market is JBL, a brand which also comes with considerable live music credibility. JBL offers a comparable mix of headphone styles, but somehow the Marshall design just feels a little more granular – they get you closer to the stage. Who owns Marshall Amplification?Marshall claims these headphones offer battery life up to 30 hours with active noise cancellation activated, which puts them among units such as the Sony WH-1000XM3 and B&W PX7. Turn ANC off and it’s 45 hours. A 15-minute top-up is enough for five hours, and charging to full battery takes two hours. They are certainly not cheap, and you can get a similar Marshall experience from the brand’s excellent Major III series of headphones for about half the price, but the Monitor II ANC are a warm, inviting listen that’s hard to put down.

The ANC doesn't seem to affect the sound signature when audio was playing, which is a common pitfall of wireless ANC. Generally speaking, the noise cancellation here is useful, but it's not as effective as what you get from Apple or Bose. These headphones are compact and, although they weigh a surprising 320g, the Monitor II ANC fit well; they don’t feel particularly heavy on the head. Extended sessions did result in some minor discomfort around the earlobes, however. You cannot use the USB-C port for audio but you can charge them and listen to them at the same time. A fair question, seeing as Marshall’s focus for decades was guitar amps. The answer is, at least for some models (the ones featured in this guide, basically), very. The brand channels a formidable live music legacy, and that plays a part in how they’re tuned and their distinctive style look. The same goes for Marshall speakers, too.The headphones default to Marshall’s sound signature but there’s a full equaliser should you wish to tweak the audio profile. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

There’s a Marshall Bluetooth app, although the newer version will coincide with the Monitor II ANC release. Since it was still in test mode, I did experience some issues, such as not recognising the headphones. READ NEXT: The best headphones for every budget Marshall Major IV review: What do you get for the money?

How is the Marshall Monitor II ANC headphones built?

One of our favorite features by far is the multi-purpose control knob on the left ear cup which neatly offers a variety of controls meaning you truly get to take advantage of the wire free Bluetooth technology by leaving your device in your bag. We Disliked Victoria Marshall added: “With Marshall Group, the potential to further impact an ever-modernising music industry is a highly genuine one. Together, we will preserve the Marshall legacy and shape the future of ‘Live Loud’. Having worked alongside my father during his later years, I know he would be excited at this direction and the potential to reach a larger worldwide audience with innovation and passion which he always had in spades.” How we test Battery life is so long you may forget you ever have to charge them. The Monitor II headphones are designed to last up to 30 hours with noise cancelling active and 45 hours with it off, which seemed a little conservative in my testing. We pushed our selection of Marshall headphones through a range of music genres - from bass-heavy bruisers, riff-filled wonders and gentle acoustic pieces to get a proper feel for what they can deliver.

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