The Marshall Motif A.N.C. have a refreshingly different look; they are comfortable to wear and deliver good sound. That may be enough for die-hard fans of the brand. Leaving that aside, I don’t think this is enough for True Wireless in-ears that are priced close to the 200-euro mark, considering the competition that is out there. Other headphones – sometimes at lower prices – offer even better sound, even better noise cancelling, more extensive control options or clever add-ons such as personal sound profiles or even heart rate measurement (like the Soundcore Liberty 4 by Anker).
- noise Cancelling
- case IPX4, in-ears IPX5
- no aptX codec
- battery life
- connection problems between app and smartphone
- no multipoint
The Motif A.N.C. from Marshall look good, are comfortable to wear and deliver a good sound. Fans of the brand may be content with that, but if you’re looking for the best noise cancelling or value custom sound tuning, then you may be disappointed.
Marshall has a cult following. So much so that a handsome repertoire of merchandise has grown up around the English amplifier brand. From socks to keyboards to refrigerators – you name it. Of course, headphones are also part of this collection.
So the Marshall Motif A.N.C. seem just as confident as the rest of the Marshall range: Striking design, finished in black, with the characteristic “M” on the small in-ears. Their stems are ribbed, have a correspondingly good grip and perfectly complete the rock look.
The charging case, which can be charged via USB-C or Qi, fits perfectly in your hand thanks to its faux leather coating and non-slip texture. The hinged lid bears the company logo, and when opened, the year Marshall Amps was founded can be seen underneath. A status LED and a discreetly ribbed pairing button can be found on the front of the charging case. Nice touch: The case itself is IPX4 certified, which is something you don’t find from all manufacturers. The charging case, therefore, easily copes with light rain or water splashes; but when inserting the earphones, you should make sure that they are dry; otherwise, the charging contacts and headphones could be damaged. The in-ears themselves offer IPX5 water resistance, which should mean there are no problems if these headphones are used on wet days outdoors or during sweaty training sessions.
The headphones can be worn without uncomfortable pressure under caps that are not too tight. However, for our taste, the plastic housing caught too much friction noise from a cap, and this can be annoying even at moderate volume levels.
By the way, we tested the Marshall Motif A.N.C. Diamond Jubilee. This special edition is technically identical to the “normal” Marshall Motif A.N.C., the only difference being that the logos are in black rather than white.
What’s in the box
In addition to the in-ears and case, the package includes not only a USB-A to C charging cable but also three pairs of silicone ear tips in the standard sizes S, M and L. Although I usually find my best fit with “L” ear tips, the perfect fit was unfortunately not available here, so I had to switch to other ear tips. This shows once again how important well-fitting ear tips can be: If they are too loose, the balanced sound is lost, and this particularly manifests itself in the practically non-existent bass range.
The app’s start screen (iOS and Android) welcomes you with a picture of the headphones and shows the remaining battery life of each earphone and the charging case. At the bottom of the screen, it also informs you which song is currently playing via a small player. ANC and transparency modes can be switched here via a tap with your finger, and there is also a sub-function that adjusts the sensitivity of the microphones for both functions between 10% and 100%.
The control options of the two earphones are identically assigned in the factory settings: Manage playback and calls, skip forward and backwards through entire tracks, or switch between ANC, transparency mode and “all off”. So everything is here apart from the volume control. The headphones also occasionally responded to some commands with a delay, making the controls less than reliable.
The same goes for the auto-pause feature: time and again, the Marshall Motif A.N.C. droned blithely on after being taken out of my ears and placed on the table. And this was just as annoying as the fact that the Marshall app repeatedly searched for the headphones for ages despite an active connection, including audio playback already being established – and in the end, it did not register having found them.
Of course, the behaviour of the “press-and-hold” action can be adjusted in the app. And it’s also nice that you can switch off the interaction sounds and lock the touch controls to prevent accidental touches.
Marshall has also included an equaliser, but unfortunately, it’s not sufficient. The app offers three EQs, the first of which is “flat” and cannot be changed. The other two have five pre-sets each, which aim to boost rock, speech or hip-hop, among other genres. This was too limited for me, as it is not possible to change individual frequency bands, let alone create your own EQ pre-sets.
Another feature worth mentioning is the option of “Eco Charging”: once this is activated, the headphones will only charge up to 80%. This is supposed to increase the lifespan, as these types of batteries function best in a range of 20-80%. However, our test period was unfortunately too short to make a reliable judgement on this.
According to the manufacturer, the Marshall Motif A.N.C. should last about four and a half hours with ANC activated or six hours with ANC deactivated. The charging case offers an additional 20 to 26 hours of battery life – depending on whether noise cancelling is on or not. Within three hours, the in-ears and the case were at 100%, although Marshall has also included a quick-charge option: 15 minutes in the charging case provides about one hour of playback time. However, in practice, I could not quite reach these values, but this was due to various factors and was especially dependent on volume.
The sound of the Marshall Motif A.N.C.
The Marshall Motif A.N.C.’s dynamic 6mm drivers reproduce frequencies from 20 Hz to 20 kHz at an impedance of 16 ohms. They use Bluetooth version 5.2 and support the Bluetooth codecs SBC and AAC – unfortunately, that’s all.
But let’s get to the sound: As already mentioned above, I had to resort to third-party ear tips, as the ones supplied did not fit. Of course, this changed the sound image slightly.
But even the first few bars without equaliser intervention showed that the Marshall Motif A.N.C. performed quite cleanly and neutrally. The bass range never pushed itself to the fore but still managed to deliver the necessary thrust in the appropriate songs. Tonally, bass drums and bass instruments remained intelligible and left room for the midrange. Vocals sounded clear and undistorted, while the treble range was precise but thankfully remained a long way from sounding sharp. Even at full volume, nothing boomed, although there are other headphones out there that play louder.
How well does the Marshall Motif A.N.C.’s noise cancelling work?
The Active Noise Cancellation does a good job, but there’s still room for improvement – especially when you look at the price and models from competitors like Apple or Bose.
The Marshall Motif A.N.C. properly cancel low-frequency rumble; the mid-range is muffled and reaches the ears, while only minimal energy is extracted from the treble. Therefore, the conversations of fellow passengers on public transport and the clattering of dishes or computer keyboards remained perceptible. But background noise was pleasantly restrained, both in ANC and transparency mode. All in all, a satisfactory result.
Making telephone calls with the Marshall Motif A.N.C.
I was also satisfied with the voice quality of these Marshall Motif headphones: voices remained intelligible and clear, although this was, of course, always dependent on other factors, such as network load and coverage.
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20,000 Hz
- Impedance16 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)@ 1 mW (0,126Vrms) 1 KHz: 106±2 dB
- Weight without cable4,25g each, case 41 g
What's in the box
- 3 pairs of ear tips (S, M, L)
- USB-C charging cable
- charging case
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC
- BT version: 5.2