Marshall’s Monitor line of premium headphones for music has a new flagship, the Monitor II A.N.C. Boasting Bluetooth 5.0, powerful noise cancelling and Google Assistant, are these the new kings of the wireless headphone jungle?
We’ve had an early listen to these exciting over-ears, and can confirm everything about them screams rock ‘n’ roll.
For one thing, they look the part, with dimpled cushioned headband, matt black ear cups attached by metal hinges, and curly cable detailing. A multidirectional control knob, so much more tactile than some of the touch-sensitive controls touted by rivals, offers tangible volume adjustment, as well as track skipping and Pause/Play.
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Then there are the drivers within, large 40mm jobs custom tuned for Marshall’s signature sound.
As you might expect, these cans are great with guitars - the marching power metal of Sabaton’s 82nd All the Way (The Great War, Amazon Music HD) has rarely sounded better - but the bass is tight as well, as evidenced by the sheer ferocity of Living the Dream by Five Finger Death Punch (from the album F8, Spotify). That track really lets those big drivers off the leash.
The accompanying Marshall app is pretty basic, but allows you to tweak sonic bias. The default preset is dubbed Marshall sound, but there are multiple Rock and Metal filters with adjustable EQ. If you want to trade brightness for a little more slam, you can.
The biggest challenge facing the new Monitor II A.N.C. is noise cancelling. These newcomers need to compete with noise cancelling headphones leaders like the Sony WH-1000XM3, Sennheiser Momentum Wireless and Bose Noise Cancelling 700, all excellent in their own right.
Early indications are promising. The headphones certainly do a convincing job with general commuting hubbub.
In use, Marshall’s approach to A.N.C. feels rewardingly analogue (it’s activated by the ‘M’ button on the hinge of the left hand earcup). A.N.C. works by constantly and dynamically pinpointing and measuring ambient noise. If you don’t want full-on noise cancellation, just switch to Monitoring Mode (in order to hear some ambient sound), or just turn it off.
Wireless playtime is excellent, with the cans able to noise cancel for around 30 hours. Switch A.N.C. Off and you’ll get around 45 hours wireless use. If you need to juice up in a hurry, then a 15 minute charge using the supplied USB-C cable will give you around five hours playtime.
Bluetooth 5.0 means stable connectivity, with less chance of dropouts. A detachable 3.5mm chord is supplied if you need to get wired, either to save power or to hook into an in-flight entertainment system.
The headphones can also be used with Google Assistant, so you’ll not miss any notifications. Hold down the M-button on the right cup hinge and you can tell Google Assistant to play your Download Festival playlist, and do other smart stuff.
The Marshall Monitor II A.N.C. headphones are available now, priced at £279.99/$319.99/€299. To find out more and to order, head to Marshall.
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