It simply can’t be stated how much I love me a pair of A.N.C. (Active Noise Cancellation) headphones. Blocking out the jibber jabber of the masses is the only way I can take public transport without murdering random people. Reviewing the Marshall Monitor II A.N.C. seemed like a no-brainer then!
I’m an introvert and I like my peace and quiet, what can I say?
For years now, I’ve been a fan of SONY and their A.N.C. tech. Their WH-1000XM series has been my go to for years now, with my WH-1000XM2 still getting regular use everyday.
With that in mind, how did the Marshall Monitor II A.N.C. headphones fare?
What is the Marshall Monitor II A.N.C.?
The Marshall Monitor II A.N.C. is the newest pair of headphones from premium music hardware manufacturer, Marshall. They feature the latest A.N.C. tech from the company.
With their ergonomic design and retro styling, the Marshall Monitor II A.N.C. is designed for maximum comfort, while delivering the signature Marshall look and features. To that end, the headphones are fully compatible with Google Assistant, connecting via Bluetooth 5.0.
The headphones also feature a 3.5mm audio jack just in case the batteries run low. However, with up to 30 hours wireless playtime per charge, that’s a bit unlikely. Like most devices, the headphones charge via USB Type-C.
The Marshall Monitor II A.N.C. headset has an MSRP of S$549, but it’s currently on sale at $509 at TC Acoustic.
Here are the headsets’ full specs.
Marshall’s known for making premium sound hardware and this is no different. The build for the headset is excellent with slavish attention to detail.
This isn’t a flimsy, cheap headset and it shows from the design and materials used.
The cups are made from textured plastic, with an incredibly thick (and soft) cushion lining. Inside is another lining of cushion, though this time much thinner (but just as soft!). The headband’s wrapped with a leather-ish material, giving the whole thing an elegant old school feel. The plastics (whether its the cups or the headband’s) are sturdy, giving off a premium vibe.
The app’s easy enough to use and customize but I found it just easier to use the presets. I had an issue with the app whenever I used it with the headset though; the sound kept cutting in and out. It was fine the first time I ran it after it installed but subsequent plays had this issue.
I tried everything, from reinstall to closing down the app manually but nothing worked. Apparently other users have experience it too, as the app page on Google Play has reviews stating the same thing.
It’s also possible not to use the app at all, as the headphones work even without it. I had no issue pairing the headphone with my phone (a Samsung Galaxy Note 10+).
Upon pairing (and turning the headset on and off), there’s a nice little jingle that plays to confirm. Bluetooth 5.0 support is strong and constant, with zero skips or stutters throughout my time with the headset. The microphone is a bit low (people I talked to said that my voice was lower than usual during Whatsapp calls) but otherwise everything works fine.
Controls on the headset are relegated to two; the golden knob on the right can and the ANC button (which turns the noise cancellation on and off) on the left can, which blends in with the headband support.
It’s definitely a weird place to put it; I didn’t notice it until I read the manual! It definitely takes some getting used to but it’s easy enough to feel out when you’re wearing when you know where to look.
The golden knob on the other hand functions as multiple buttons in one. on default, it’s used to control the volume (up and down on the down) and forward or go back a track (left and right).
I found it rather unwieldy, with the knob not registering my input correctly at times. I’d move the knob to the right to skip a track only for it to register as me lowering (or raising the volume). There’s undoubtedly a sweet spot that will probably trigger all the commands correctly but I couldn’t find it even after hours of testing. Perhaps multiple physical buttons would be a better fit.
Other than that, there’s not much to complain about the headset.
The Active Noise Cancellation works just as advertised, with it muting out nearly everything that’s not the music. It’s certainly on par with other premium noise cancellation headsets I’ve tried. It muted out voices and lowered noises in vehicles so that you’re left with your music in peace.
The cups are generously cushioned (in fact, I prefer the cushioning on the Marshall Monitor II over SONY’s 1000-XM line) and are large enough to fit my ears comfortably for hours. I didn’t feel the slightest discomfort or sweat throughout the time I used the headphones.
While I’d have preferred the cups to be smooth and matte, the textured plastic does fit in with the whole retro vibe that’s Marshall’s does so well.
The headband’s also similarly textured, but this time with leather (or perhaps faux leather) encasing the entirety of the headband. The cushion’s also mighty thick on the underside, which makes it comfortable to use for long periods.
If you’re bald, it’s even better, as it’ll cushion your noggin well.
Adjusting it is easy enough, you just tug on either cup to extend them. Finding a perfect fit is easy, with zero fuss or muss.
As per the standard, I used the normal songs, all in FLAC.
Here’s the list.
- The Touch (Rock, Stan Bush)
- Cherry Pie (Hard Rock, Warrant)
- Die for Metal (Power Metal, Manowar)
- Reise, Reise (Industrial Metal, Rammstein)
- X Gon’ Give It To Ya (Rap, DMX)
- Gangster’s Paradise (Hip Hop, Coolio)
- Moonlight Sonata (Classical, Beethoven)
- One-Winged Angel – Final Fantasy VII (Instrumental, Nobuo Uematsu)
- Prayer – Symphony of the Night (Vocal, Michiru Yamane)
- Change the World – (J-Pop, V6)
Unfortunately, the Marshall Monitor II headphones doesn’t support most HD audio codes. SBC support is there, but AAC or aptX codecs aren’t. If you listen to high res audio (which I suspect most who buy premium headphones do), you’ll sorely miss this.
The sounds aren’t bad but are a tad behind the SONY 1000-XM series. Die For Metal for one, doesn’t sound as booming with its drum beats or its electric guitar riffs. The bass just doesn’t sound as deep as I’d like. Even the chorus sounds a bit tame.
One Winged Angel proved mostly the same; the drums and trumpets sounded excellent but the bass was (again) a bit lacking. The choir was positively delightful to hear, crystal clear at all times (especially the parts where they keep shouting ‘SEPHIROTH!’).
Surprisingly (as I left the headphones on while it moved on to other songs on my playlist), Rammstein’s Stirb Nicht Vor Mir sounded EXCELLENT. The instruments sounded rich and the vocals were clean and clear.
In all my testing, the results were similar; the headphones had no problem with voices or instruments but the bass was a bit on the soft side, even after fiddling with the equalizer.
The bottom line.
As a premium headset, the Marshall Monitor II A.N.C. does its job well. The build quality is solid, the materials are excellent and the sound does deliver. The headset absolutely nails the retro look that Marshall’s known for too.
However, there are some quirks that detract from it being as good as it could be. Support for high resolution audio codecs is weirdly missing, the bass could be better and the knob control is just plain frustrating to use.
It still doesn’t do much to impact on the quality, as the headphones are excellent nonetheless. Just don’t go in expecting perfection.
Great premium headphones, but not perfect.
- Great looks.
- Very comfortable.
- Excellent music reproduction.
- A.N.C. works incredibly well.
- No AAC and aptX support.
- The golden knob.
- Bass not deep enough.