With the revised Motif II A.N.C., the British cult brand Marshall wants to set the tone again. The new earphones look just as good, are comfortable to wear and deliver a good sound. The manufacturer seems to have taken the criticisms we made in our test of version 1 seriously!
- Bluetooth LE
- Battery life and charging time
- Limited control options
The differences between Marshall Motif II A.N.C. and Marshall Motif A.N.C.
The increased battery life is new: These earphones now last approximately 6 hours with ANC (9 hours without) on one charge, whereas with the previous model, 4.5 hours with ANC and 6 hours without were standard. The performance of the charging case has also been increased and now offers 30 hours of runtime with ANC (45 hours without), compared to 20 hours with and 26 hours without ANC with the Motif I ANC. Charging time has also been halved: instead of 3 hours, both the in-ears and the charging case now take around 1.5 hours.
Finally, the manufacturer has updated the built-in Bluetooth technology. The new Marshall Motif II A.N.C. now run with Bluetooth version 5.3, and the new LC3 codec (Low Complexity Communications Codec – FAQ) is provided. This halves the bit rate and, in turn, the energy consumption but still delivers a higher sound quality than the common SBC codec. The main thing is that Android smartphones support this codec.
Design and wearing comfort of the Marshall Motif II A.N.C.
The black design of these small in ears is striking with the distinctive white “M” for Marshall. Their stems are ribbed, provide a good grip and, together with the copper-colored “caps”, round off the “rock” look.
The charging case, which can be charged via USB-C or Qi, fits perfectly in your hand thanks to a faux leather coating and non-slip texture. The magnet on the hinged lid is not the strongest, but nevertheless, it keeps the case, which can be opened easily with just one hand, securely closed. The discreetly ribbed pairing button is located under the rubberised, white company logo, and the status LED, which provides information about the charging status, is placed above it.
The case is IPX4 certified, something which you don’t always find from other manufacturers. The charging case, therefore, easily copes with light rain or splashes of water; however, when inserting the earphones, you should make sure that they are dry; otherwise, the charging contacts and headphones could be damaged. The in-ears are compliant with IPX5 for water resistance, so they should present no problems on wet days outdoors or during sweaty workouts.
The headphones can be worn under caps without uncomfortable pressure if they are not too tight. As with the previous model, the plastic housing captured the friction noise of a cap too much for our taste, and this can be perceived as annoying even at moderate volumes. Impact noise was also more noticeable than with counterparts from Apple, Bose, Sennheiser or Jabra.
What’s in the box?
Included in the box is a USB-A to -C charging cable and three pairs of silicone earpieces in standard sizes S, M and L. Unfortunately, our tester’s ears didn’t seem to like the manufacturer’s earpieces. We could not find a perfect fit, so we had to switch to using other ear tips. This showed once again how important well-fitting ear moulds are: If they were too loose, the balanced sound was lost, and above all, this manifested itself in an almost non-existent bass range.
The start screen of the “Marshall Bluetooth” app (iOS and Android) welcomes you with a picture of the earphone model and shows the remaining battery life of each earphone and the charging case. At the bottom of the screen, a small player informs you which song is currently playing.
You can switch through ANC, Transparency mode and Off here with a finger tab, and you can control both modes with a slider that moves through three intensity levels.
The control options of the two earphones are identically assigned and limited in factory settings: Manage playback and calls, skip forward and backward through entire tracks or jump directly into the app via Spotify tab and start listening. These are fixed and cannot be changed.
A volume control is – in contrast to the previous model – finally also available and can be increased or decreased with a press-and-hold command. If you want to use this together with the ANC/transparency mode or other commands (EQ, voice assistant), you have to choose which side for the controls. Either increase (or decrease) the volume on one earpiece and switch ANC etc. on the other.
These headphones also implement the different commands with less delay than their predecessors, and this was always reliable.
The auto-pause feature was equally successful: While it did not work reliably with the old Marshall Motif A.N.C. in our test, it works flawlessly here. Marshall’s app also now reliably finds the headphones when the connection is active, including audio playback.
It’s nice that you can also switch off the interaction sounds and lock the touch controls so they are not affected by accidental touches, and you can even choose a reduced functionality with the “Mini” pre-set, which can protect against incorrect commands.
There is also an update to the equalisers. While on the older version, you had to live with fixed pre-sets, Marshall has now given it some thought: Four pre-sets raise or lower certain frequency ranges, while with “Custom” you can now adjust the 5-band equaliser yourself.
Another feature worth mentioning is the option of battery-saving charging: By means of a slider, you can determine whether the battery should only be charged at room temperature and whether it should be charged up to a maximum of 90 %. You can even change the charging speed of the headphones from “fast” to “standard”. We haven’t come across this feature yet from the competition: We certainly give a thumbs up for any features that conserve the battery and extend the life of the headphones!
As mentioned above, the Marshall Motif II A.N.C. now offer six hours with ANC enabled or nine hours with ANC disabled. The case, in turn, offers an additional battery life of 30 to 45 hours – depending on whether noise cancelling is on or not. Within 1.5 hours, the in-ears and the case are charged to 100%, and Marshall has again included a quick-charge option: 15 minutes in the charging case provides about one hour of playback time. In practice, however, we didn’t quite reach these values, but this was due to factors such as high temperatures or volume.
The sound of the Marshall Motif II A.N.C.
The Marshall Motif A.N.C’s dynamic 6 mm drivers reproduce frequencies from 20 Hz to 20 kHz at an impedance of 16 ohms. They rely on Bluetooth version 5.3 and support the Bluetooth codecs SBC, AAC and LC3. Unfortunately, we could not review the latter in the test, as our Google Pixel 6a supports it in theory but not in practice, as Google has not enabled it.
I assessed the sound with third-party ear tips due to not finding matching earpieces – this, of course, changed the sound image slightly.
I set the equaliser pre-set to “Marshall” as this nulls all frequency bands. The overall performance was relatively unobtrusive. No particular frequencies pushed themselves to the fore, nor did the Marshall Motif II A.N.C. overemphasise them.
The bass range never pushed itself to the fore either but found its way nicely into the eardrum at higher volumes, and bass drums and bass instruments remained tonally detectable. Nevertheless, in the lowest registers, some productions seemed slightly washed out.
Vocals and lead instruments came across as clear and unadulterated, but with appropriate mixes, they were sometimes slightly subdued.
Although the highs were precise and tended to be sharp only at full volume (on spikily mixed tracks), they did swallow up the odd detail of a mix compared to a Technics EAH-AZ60M2.
There were no differences in sound between activated ANC and transparency mode, and only if you switch both off will you have to put up with a slightly narrower sound image and less bass.
How well does the Marshall Motif II A.N.C. noise cancelling work?
The Marshall Motif II A.N.C. swallowed low-frequency rumble decently, the mid-range came across as muffled to my ears, while less energy was extracted from the treble. It was still possible to slightly perceive the conversations of fellow travellers on public transport or the clattering of dishes or keyboards, but there was a clear improvement when compared to the previous model.
The ANC’s background noise was perceptible in silence but was not noticeable during media playback. However, the transparency mode raised it for technical reasons and may disturb some people during quiet passages of classical music, for example. All in all, this was a good result!
The Marshall Motif II A.N.C. are a successful further development of the popular version 1. In addition to technical updates, we can no longer criticise them for missing functions, and so find that they not only deliver a good sound but also more effective noise cancelling than that of their predecessors. There are cheaper alternatives with even more features, such as models from Soundcore, but if you are a fan of the cult brand, the Marshall Motif II A.N.C. will give you chic and functional True Wireless in-ears with that little bit of something extra!
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
- Impedance16 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)108 dB
- Weight without cableeach 4,3 g
What's in the box
- 3 pairs of ear tips (S, M, L)
- USB-C charging cable
- Charging case
- BT-Codec: SBC, AAC, LC3
- BT-Version: 5.3