Marshall Major II Bluetooth headphones review

Going unplugged only made Marshall's Major II rock harder

The Marshall Major II Wireless are best-in-class headphone – a slam dunk choice at this price.
The Marshall Major II Wireless are best-in-class headphone – a slam dunk choice at this price.
The Marshall Major II Wireless are best-in-class headphone – a slam dunk choice at this price.

Highs

  • Full and detailed sound for the price
  • Solid wireless signal with long range
  • Intuitive onboard controls
  • Stylish, comfortable design
  • Excellent battery life

Lows

  • Heavy mid bass gets in the way sometimes
  • Bluetooth connection a tad noisy

It’s rare for a company that licenses a brand for name recognition and style points to exceed expectations, but Marshall Headphones has been doing just that since its launch a couple of years ago. With design hallmarks of one of the greatest names in rock as inspiration, Marshall Headphones has carved out its own identity by crafting solid cans and Bluetooth speakers that not only bring Marshall’s iconic style to bear, but also offer good sound and clever design elements to boot.

Following the common theme of the age, the latest from Marshall Headphones adds the convenience of Bluetooth to the company’s value-packed on-ear cans, the Marshall Major II. The Bluetooth version build off the smart design of their predecessor, adding to the textured earpieces and near-indestructible headband with intuitive on-board controls, effortless wireless playback, and battery life that goes for days. It’s a brilliant move for a company that already trades in Bluetooth sound on the speaker side. And though they’re not without their quirks, at $150, the Marshall Major II Bluetooth beg everyone to come out and play.

Features and design

Fans of the original Major II will feel right at home with the Bluetooth version, as Marshall has wisely kept all of its key design traits in place: Marshall’s familiar logo embossed in white, gold embellishments on the inside of the band and at the tips of the guitar-style cable (for those times you need to plug in), and dimpled texturing along the exterior, meant to emulate Marshall’s iconic speaker cabinets.

As for build elements, the headphones sport a contortionist headband which twists and turns to your heart’s content with no ill effect, as well as earpieces which fold in on hinges for more compact storage. Of course, with the addition of Bluetooth comes a taut collection of on-board controls.

At the bottom of the right earpiece is a Micro-USB charging port, a 3.5mm input to plug them in, and a power/pairing key you can hold to turn the cans on and off, or double tap to pair. Tucked on the bottom corner of the left earpiece is a flashy gold control key that accounts for our favorite new design element. The button can be a little difficult to locate with the headphones on, but once you get the hang of it it’s a brilliant little control point. You can, of course, tap it to answer calls and pause/play music, but it also allows you to nudge it up and down for volume control or left and right for song skipping. It’s utterly simple and efficient for full command over your tunes without fumbling for your device.

The contortionist headband lets you twist and bend the cans to your heart’s content.

Beneath the squishy padding of each removable earpiece, rattan stitching covers 40mm drivers with a claimed frequency response of 10Hz-20kHz. They appear to be the exact same as those in the original Major II, but they’re actually packing some extra junk in the trunk (more on that below).

While the Bluetooth connection is a little noisy when it kicks in, it’s also extremely solid. The connection extended well beyond the common 33-foot range in our testing as we meandered through the office and away from our device — even around hallways and through doors. The addition of aptX also allows CD-like sound quality on supported devices, and minimal sync issues. Perhaps most impressive, though, is the 30-hour battery life, which puts these cans at the top of their class — a notable distinction that can’t be overstated.

Comfort

Comfort was a key feature for the original Major II and nothing’s changed with Bluetooth streaming tacked on. The cushy pads offer plenty of support, and while we wish there was a bit more padding on the band, it’s easy to wear these cans all day without issue.

Performance

As one might expect, the Major II Bluetooth offer a very similar experience to their wired counterpart. That includes a warm and ruddy sound signature, with a brassy cut to the attack of midrange instruments, full and punchy bass, and plenty of of instrumental separation that allows for some impressive detail.

Like their predecessor, the headphones are rolled off pretty heavily once you make your way into the higher frequencies, which puts the kibosh on some of the sparkle in flashier instruments, especially notable on cymbals and snappy snare. While that may make more discerning listeners long for more extension and accuracy up top, it also makes for a comfy ride, smoothing out the sharper moments on your hottest tracks.

The flashy gold button is a brilliant little control key for music and phone calls.

The one issue with the Major II Bluetooth in comparison to its wired companion is one we’ve noticed a lot when headphones move into the wireless realm: a spike in the mid bass. The phenomenon appears to stem from the built-in amplification – the same issue has occurred with several wireless renditions, including V-Moda’s M100, and Sennheiser’s Momentum Wireless.

The Major II Bluetooth’s extra oomph is mostly notable in songs with thick bass tracks (especially stand-up bass) or heavy tom drums. The effect can make the instruments positively glow and take up more room than they’re due, even putting a bit of a haze in the guitar and vocal tracks. For many songs, such as Brett Dennen’s San Francisco, it’s barely noticeable, adding just a bit more groove to the mix — the Major II have always leaned a little big down there anyway. However, on the very next tune on the record, Make You Crazy, the bass and floor toms get pretty pushy, taking over the bottom third of the frequency spectrum with authority.

That said, the occasional bass bloating was more of a quibble than an all-out complaint — especially at this price point. Moreover, most listeners in the Beats era go in for a heavier sound than this reviewer cares for, and those who love some extra force down low may dig the sound of the Major II Bluetooth even more than the original.

Conclusion

With classic rock style and performance, Marshall Headphones’ Major II Bluetooth carry the torch from their predecessor, offering warm and punchy wireless sound in a comfy design that won’t break the bank. The bass gets a little hefty for us at times, but with solid Bluetooth performance, and battery life for days — all at a nice price — these cans are ripe for a breakout debut in the highly-competitive wireless market.

Product Review

Sennheiser brings audio perfection to wireless earbuds like no one else can

Sennheiser took its time entering the true wireless earbud market, and the results are what you’d expect from the storied audio brand. The new Momentum offer seamless operation, best-in-class sound, and a high price tag to match.
Deals

Pick up a pair of Apple AirPods alternatives for less than $50

Apple AirPods are some of the most sought-after wireless earbuds, but they certainly aren't cheap. Luckily, Walmart and Amazon both have some great Apple AirPod alternatives for sale, and you can still get them before Christmas.
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our 10 favorites.
Home Theater

An acclaimed Apple analyst says the new AirPods are coming in 2019

Apple plans to release new AirPods much the same as it does new iPhones, and a wireless charging case, water resistance, and better Siri integration are among the improvements we can expect in future models.
Home Theater

Now-canceled ‘Daredevil’ was one of Netflix’s most popular shows

Netflix recently canceled Marvel's Daredevil just a month after the premiere of the show's third season, despite reports indicating that it was one of the service's most popular shows.
Home Theater

Looking to cut cable? Here’s everything you need to know about Pluto TV

Pluto TV offers plenty of entertainment in a fashion similar to live internet TV services, only at no cost — you don’t even need to register. Too good to be true? Here’s everything you need to know.
Home Theater

New TV? Here's where to go to watch the best 4K content available

Searching for content for your new 4K UHD TV? Look no further. We have every major source of the best 4K content, along with the cost, hardware requirements, and features that make each service worth a look.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to endangered cats

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Home Theater

OLED or LED? We pick the winner in the battle of competing TV tech

The acronyms OLED and LED sound and look very similar, but the two technologies are vastly different in terms of engineering, performance, and capabilities. Which technology wins when you pit OLED versus LED in a TV?
Home Theater

Sling TV ramps up its base programming with Discovery Networks for free

Sling TV has grown a great deal since its launch. Now there are more channels and more packages to chose from, with prices to match, and more is being added all the time. Everything you need to know is right here.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

What are HDMI ARC and eARC? Here’s how they can simplify your home theater

HDMI ARC is one of the coolest TV features at your disposal. But if you're like most folks, you have no idea how it works, if you even know what it is at all. Here's our primer on HDMI ARC, as well as the next generation technology, eARC.
Movies & TV

Out of movies to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!