Written by Cheryl Tan
Marshall is pretty well-known for their amps, speakers and such. There’s a classic look to their products that make them instantly recognisable and that’s also present in their newest offering, the Marshall Monitor II ANC headphones.
These are Marshall’s second go at headphones, looking almost identical to the original Monitor Bluetooth headphones. The main visual differences? The striking gold control knob is now on the right earcup, and there’s active noise cancellation (ANC) now on these.
The control knob is probably my favourite part of these headphones. It can control volume up, down, track skipping forward and back, as well as play and pause. It’s definitely not as finicky as touch controls, and it’s relatively responsive to inputs.
The earcups might look to be covered in leather, but it’s actually textured plastic with a matte finish that mimics the look of pebbled leather, which I think is quite clever. This enhances the durability of the headphones while still retaining a bit of luxuriousness. The earpads are incredibly plush and comfortable. They do get a little warm after prolonged use, but it’s not too hot and it doesn’t make the sides of my face sweat.
The headband is also heavily padded on the underside, resulting in an extremely comfortable listening session overall. The top of the band actually has a pebbled leather covering, which matches the pattern on the earcups and looks really nice. The swivelling hinges are metal, and while it does add to the weight of the headphones, it’s not uncomfortably heavy.
All in all, the comfort level of the Marshall Monitor II ANC headphones are superb for my head size and shape. The clamping force is just right and there’s no pinching at the crown of my head even after hours on end. The headphones also come with a canvas carrying bag which doesn’t offer much protection, but it looks good.
The sound out of these is actually quite stunning. Instead of trying these out with songs that have more emphasis on bass and mids, I jumped into Max Richter’s Spring 1 with plenty of string instruments to test the treble. There’s enough energy and sparkle in the upper registers, while ensuring that each instrument is distinct and not compressed into a muddy mess.
Moving onto songs like Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy, the bass is on full display. Rich with just enough decay and rumble, the bass doesn’t overwhelm the mids either. Vocal layering isn’t the best, but you can still hear the different layers of her voice clearly.
If you’re not a fan of the Marshall sound, there’s a Marshall Bluetooth mobile app where you’ll be able to tweak the EQ settings, create your own presets or use those already inside. I found the standard setting to be perfectly fine for my music choices, so that’s that. There’s also an ANC setting where you can adjust the level of ANC or the amount of Monitor transparency where external noise is piped in.
There are two buttons on the back of either side of the headphone struts, with the ANC button on the left and the M-Button, as it’s called, on the right.
The ANC button on the left toggles between ANC on, ANC off and Monitor transparency while the M-Button can be customised to either toggle between the EQ presets, activate Google Assistant or active the Native Voice Assistant, whether that’s Bixby, Siri or others.
The headphones charge via USB-C and are touted to have up to 30 hours of playback with ANC activated. I’ve been using these headphones everyday for a week for my conference calls and music, and it’s still going strong, so I’ll definitely trust Marshall on this.
There’s also a 3.5mm jack on the left earcup for wired listening if you so prefer. ANC works well, dampening my environmental sound. I can still hear my mechanical keyboard clacking away if I have the headphones on with no music playing, but once I start up a song, that’s pretty much hidden.
Overall, these are a great pair of headphones. The only quibbles I had were that it doesn’t automatically detect when the headphones aren’t being worn to pause music playback and the fact that there’s no AAC or aptX support. At S$549, it’s difficult to recommend this to audiophiles who care about audio quality more than anything else.
But if you’re just looking for something that sounds good, looks good and works well, this is an excellent choice, albeit a bit pricey.
More information about the Marshall Monitor II ANC headphones (S$549) and purchase options can be found on the official distributor TC Acoustic’s website.