The closed circumaural Marshall Monitor II A.N.C. offer well-balanced sound, but score particularly highly on wearing comfort and have several interesting functions.
Since its foundation in 1962, the long-established English company Marshall have been committed to high-quality and robust stage equipment with a timeless design, their latest closed Bluetooth headphones Monitor II A.N.C. benefit from their experience. And it’s not just their all-black design, emphasised by the white accentuated lettering and a golden button on the ear cups, that underlines their rocking attitude. Both the brackets and their extensions and the ear cup suspension are made of robust metal and the matt-textured surface of the oval ear-cups almost feels like one of their legendary amps. Behind the hard shell of these headphones, however, there is a soft core, especially the padding, which extends under the black imitation leather of the headband over its entire length. The leatherette earpads are no less padded and fortunately, they are exchangeable.
Optimal alignment of the ear cups on the ears is ensured by the extensions, which can be pulled out in thirteen increments and snap-in tightly, and the ear cup suspensions connected to a combination joint. The headphones are really well articulated, as the suspension tilts 180 degrees around the vertical axis and about 130 degrees around the horizontal axis. This guarantees flexible monitoring and shock-proof, space-saving transportation. The ear cups can also be folded almost halfway around the axis in the arms. This requires a long cable so that it does not stretch when it is twisted. Accordingly, Marshall uses a spiral when the cable exits the bracket channel to avoid cable jams. Since these headphones support Bluetooth and active noise suppression, two buttons required for this, the A.N.C. mode switch and the M button, are hidden at the end of the mounting arms of both cups and can be individually assigned via an app.
The left-hand cup also has connections for the included USB C charging or audio cable with a 3.5-millimetre jack plug and control LED, while the microphone for voice control and active noise cancelling is hidden in the right-hand one. The prominent golden button performs several tasks.
In addition to the cables mentioned above, the package includes a denim-look carrying bag and instructions for use.
For Bluetooth operation Marshall requires that you install the app, which is really something. First of all, the M Button can be used for various functions, such as switching between EQ presets or listening to Apple or Google voice assistants. Not only is the strength of the noise-cancelling adjustable by percentage, but there is also a monitor mode with adjustable intensity, which allows ambient noise and does not completely shield you acoustically from your surroundings. Depending on sound preferences, the app offers seven EQ presets, which can also be individualised using a five-band equaliser in the frequencies 160, 400, 100, 2500 and 6250 Hertz. Marshall certifies a wireless playing time of up to 30 hours, and without activated A.N.C. this increases to 45 hours. To prevent the headphones from using unnecessary power in standby mode, the app offers an adjustable timer for switching off.
The Marshall Monitor II A.N.C. are practical and quite handy thanks to their textured surface and compact size. Although at 321 grams they are not exactly a lightweight, they are not obtrusive when worn. This is mainly due to the extremely soft padding. Neither the earpieces nor the ear pads put unpleasant pressure on your head or ears, so I can imagine sessions with these headphones lasting for hours. The large oval ear cups offered enough space for my ears without restricting them. Nevertheless, they offered support and thus safety even during violent head movements. The Monitor II A.N.C. are also very well suited for noisy DJ booths, thanks to the closed ear cups and the shielding they provide. If you prefer one-sided monitoring then you can simply fold a cup behind your ear with the extremely flexible bracket.
The Monitor II A.N.C’s 40-millimetre dynamic drivers reproduce signals between 20 to 20,000 Hertz in the frequency range. The manufacturer puts their sensitivity at 96 decibels; we measured 99.08 db. Since the headphones were also designed for mobile players with weaker headphone outputs, their 19.3 Ohm averaged impedance was certainly an advantage.
The frequency diagram published on the packaging by Marshall shows a bass emphasis at 50 Hertz, the mid-range frequencies are rather restrained up to 800 Hertz and then steadily increase to about 3,500 Hertz. The highs form peaks at about 8,000 and 12,500 Hertz. Of course, individual frequencies can be boosted and lowered using an app, but this does not affect the sound in conventional cable operation.
In my test, I found their warm sound image to be quite balanced. In Röyksopp’s “Sordid Affair” I noticed their pleasant bass in the intro and the clearly defined groove. The vocals also showed a well-balanced, not overdone presence. Compared to my Sennheiser HD 25, which I often use for testing purposes, I missed some top nuances and a portion of transparency. This impression was also confirmed by Bob James “Westchester Lady”, whose pleasing sound was only audibly duller in direct A/B comparison. I felt the stereo image of the Marshall Monitor II A.N.C. was narrower. The Marshall headphones are also defeated by the Sennheiser’s output. In order to run the Monitor II A.N.C. at the same level as the HD-25, a small boost on the volume control is required. But it may also be something more. Because, as befits Marshall headphones, they rock with the volume turned up, without distortion. Even transients caused by bass are accurately reproduced by the drivers. Connected to a Smartphone via Bluetooth, the individual EQ settings allow the headphones to get more sound. The player can also be operated at the touch of a button or by voice command. Even more advantages are offered by the well-functioning Active Noise Cancelling, with which external noise is greatly attenuated and thus the ears are spared from too loud a level. When travelling, I recommend their monitor mode, which does not isolate you from your surroundings and allows ambient sounds for safety’s sake.
Marshall’s Monitor II A.N.C. rocks! After all, these closed Bluetooth headphones have a high-quality finish, are very comfortable to wear and feature Active Noise Cancelling and app connection with many adjustment options. Their sound is quite homogeneous and pleasing with well-measured bass notes. The only thing I’d wish for was a little more self-confidence from the treble in favour of transparency. Unfortunately, the ear pads are not interchangeable, but this generally does not impact the durability of these robust headphones.
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
- Impedance19,3 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)99,08 dB
- Pressure averaged from big and small head580,5 g
- Weight with cable345 g
- Weight without cable321 g
- Cable length120 cm
What's in the box
- 3.5 mm jack cable
- USB-C charging cable
- Carrying pouch
- BT codecs: SBC
- BT version: 5.0