Marshall Monitor II A.N.C. review: made for music lovers
If you're looking for some good over-ear headphones with ANC, you don't necessarily think of Marshall headphones. But with the new Monitor II A.N.C. the manufacturer now wants to enter the territory of Sony and Bose. Whether or not you have a third ANC option with the Marshall headphones, we will find out for you in this full review.
- Good wearing comfort
- Changeable ear pads
- Easy operation via intelligently placed keys
- Harmonious sound
- Good battery life
- No cable without remote control and microphones
- High price
Expensive retro fun
Marshall headphones have been around for quite some time. We have also tested numerous headphones and speakers here at AndroidPIT. The classic and typical Marshall design is certainly not everybody's cup of tea, but this simple design is also part of the Marshall brand. The headphones we have tested so far have always been good in terms of sound, but with active noise cancellation, or ANC for short, Marshall has only had one product so far.
However, the new Marshall Monitor II with active noise cancellation are not cheap. A full £270 must be put on the table for the over-ear headphones. The competing products from Sony and Bose have been on the market for a little longer and are now available for less than that.
Classic Marshall look
At first sight, the new Monitor II A.N.C. headphones look like the sister models of the Monitor series, but the top model differs in many features from the cheaper models. It already starts with small things like the badges for left and right. These are no longer made of brass but of black plastic. Also, the connectors and the gold-colored control knob have been swapped. Everything that was on the right ear cup of the Monitor Bluetooth is now on the left and vice versa.
The designers of Zound industries, the manufacturer of the Marshall headphones, have been very creative in accommodating two additional buttons. The ANC button, with which you can switch between noise reduction on and off and monitor, is located in the left suspension axis of the earcup. On the opposite side, also in the axis, there is the M button. Via the Marshall app, the button can be used to either start Google Assistant, another voice assistant installed on your smartphone, or to switch between three different equalizer settings. All buttons make a very solid impression.
Comfortable to wear
Wearing comfort is very pleasant with the thick padded headband and soft ear pads. As a wearer of glasses, over-ear headphones generally cause problems, as is the case with the Marshall Monitor II A.N.C. The headband, the suspensions, and the joints seem to be very solid, although the latter are a bit too smooth for my taste. But I like the fact that the ear cups turn 180 degrees and the ear pads can be easily removed and replaced.
It's just a pity that Marshall left out the remote control including microphone in the included audio cable and instead only included an audio jack. So if the Monitor II A.N.C. run out of juice while you're on the road, you can still listen to music via cable, but unfortunately, you can't make a phone call, although it would work with a corresponding cable. This is particularly incomprehensible since such a cable is included with the brand's other headphones. So Marshall, put a cable with remote control and microphones in your most expensive headphones, please!
As with the MID A.N.C., the Monitor II A.N.C. is operated via the four-way switch on the left side. This solution is smart, as the switch can be found quickly and used intuitively.
No app obligation, but it's a useful little helper
Modern Bluetooth headphones with active noise reduction always come with an app these days, even if the basic functions of the headphones do not require an app. This is also the case with the Marshall Monitor II A.N.C., because the app allows you to fine-tune the headphones. With the Marshall app, you can configure the M-Button, personalize the sound with a 5-band equalizer and adjust the intensity of the noise reduction. The app is also needed to install new firmware on the headphones.
Good sound with effective noise suppression
The Marshall headphones usually give a warm and full sound. This is not surprising, since Marshall has its roots in guitar amplification. If you use the Marshall app, you can adjust the sound to your own needs. The good thing is that the Marshall Monitor II A.N.C. hardly clangs at all even at maximum volume, so the Marshall headphones do not distort in the test. Although Marshall only supports Bluetooth aptX and not Qualcomm's higher resolution aptxHD, those who really want the best sound will not listen to music wirelessly anyway, but will always enjoy music via a cable.
But how does the active noise reduction work? Admittedly, the Marshalls do not come close to the active noise cancelling of a Bose Headphone 700 or the Sony WH-1000XM3. You'll notice that when you try to enjoy quiet music in a street café with active noise cancelling. But with constant frequencies like noise in an airplane or train, the Marshall ANCs filtered out the noise quite reliably during my tests. A good thing is that you can adjust the intensity according to your own requirements via app and there is also a pass-through function that saves you the annoying need to take off the headphones during short conversations.
Tip from our editors: In general, the perception of sound is and remains a very subjective feeling. Therefore, it is worth trying out several headphones before spending a lot of money.
Endurance runners with active noise suppression
The issue of battery life is a matter of the functions being turned on. Marshall states a runtime of up to 30 hours, which the Monitor II A.N.C. easily managed in my tests. But the exciting thing is that the 30 hours are reached with active noise suppression. If you switch off the ANC and trust the passive shielding of the circumaural earphones, you can easily reach 40 hours on one battery charge. The good news is that Marshall now uses a USB-C port to charge the battery and has thus made the leap away from the outdated micro-USB.
The Marshall Monitor II A.N.C. headphones are consistently good headphones that can be recommended and purchased without hesitation. But only if the Bose Headphone 700 and the Sony WH-1000XM3 were not already available. These two offer a better and more effective noise reduction and cost less than the Marshall headphones.
So it is only the classic design and the brand itself that will draw consumers to the Marshall headphones. So go and get the Marshall Monitor II A.N.C. if you love the brand and the design appeals to you. The headphones are worth the money.