STEREO GUIDE verdict
With its stylish retro design, the Marshall Monitor II hides many modern functions. The over-ear headphones sounded hard-rocking, fast and not really smooth in our review.
- Deep, rich, impulsive bass
- great dynamics and joy of playing
- Sophisticated operating concept
- Noise-canceling and microphone not optimal
Sound: tonal balance / transparency6.8
Sound: Bass / Dynamics9.4
Ease-of-use / Connectivity9.2
Price / Performance8.8
Antique or retro? The Marshall Monitor II A.N.C. is one of the few products that really succeeds in combining old and new design. From a distance, you might think you’re looking at a pair of leather-covered, visibly closed over-ear headphones with small coiled cables from the 1950s. On closer inspection, the materials are of high quality, but not genuine leather.
With attention to detail, everything that makes a modern headphone is hidden from view. Be it the Bluetooth operation with up to 45 hours of battery life or up to 30 hours without Active Noise Canceling (ANC) or the multiple joints of the adjustable headband. With the latter, the Monitor II A.N.C. can be folded up quite compactly and then hardly takes up any space in your luggage, even as full-sized over-ear headphones with relatively thick capsules. Marshall includes a transport bag for protection. Anyone who was able to secure a copy of the Diamond Jubilee Edition for the 60th anniversary of the cult brand can even look forward to a stylish hard case with imitation leather cover and plush lining.
Operation: Full marks
But how do retro design and operation go together? Marshall dispenses with touch-sensitive touch surfaces on the capsules. At first glance, you can only see one button on the right-hand side. How are you supposed to control a complex ANC receiver with this?
You can! On the one hand, the visible button is actually a kind of joystick that can be used to control the volume, skip tracks and various control commands by pressing it. On the other hand, the Marshall Monitor II has two additional buttons that are cleverly hidden in the swivel joints of the headband: One for switching the noise canceling or transparency mode, the other is freely assignable.
In practice, this results in a fantastically intuitive, error-free and versatile operation. So good, in fact, that we wonder why more manufacturers don’t follow suit. The option of passive operation via the supplied 3.5 mm jack cable also proves to be very practical.
App in practice
If you try to connect the Marshall headphones directly to a Bluetooth device, you will be prompted with the message “Connection only via the app” in a friendly but firm manner. Once you have downloaded it from the Google Playstore or Apple Appstore, the setup works like clockwork.
The Marshall Bluetooth app proves to be a well and sensibly equipped control center that dispenses with gimmicks. The hidden button on the right capsule can be individually assigned to a function such as the voice assistant – Google Assistant or Apple Siri.
The noise canceling can be adjusted relatively deeply: It can be deactivated, the intensity can be adjusted in 10 levels, or it can also give way to a transparency mode, for example for announcements on the train.
The EQ function seemed just as well thought out to us: The Marshall Bluetooth app not only includes a 5-band equalizer and various presets. You can also save three different curves as your own favorites and switch between them depending on the music material, for example.
Practical test: Usability and noise-canceling
The Marshall Monitor II A.N.C. is designed as an over-ear. Its artificial leather rings therefore sit on the head. As the material is quite high quality, we are not worried about sweating or heat build-up underneath. However, the inside of the capsules is slightly too small for very large auricles, so that they touch the seals at the sides.
Otherwise, the Monitor II A.N.C. fitted all test subjects excellently and provided a feeling of sealing without pressing on the head. If in doubt, you should adjust the headband a little tighter rather than too wide, otherwise the capsules will slip off your ears relatively easily if you touch them.
When noise canceling was activated, the Marshall drew attention to itself with a certain background noise. No typical noise in the upper treble, but rather a mid-range noise similar to the “sea noise” from a large shell. This is sufficiently quiet to go unnoticed when you’re out and about, but at home we preferred to deactivate the ANC.
In practice, both the noise canceling and the built-in microphones for phone calls proved their worth. With one caveat: both do not like stronger winds blowing in from the side and sometimes react with strange noises. Otherwise, however, the ANC proved to be both effective and pleasant.
This is what the Marshall Monitor II A.N.C. sounds like
The first impression of the sound quality is formed after a few bars: The Marshall Monitor II A.N.C. in the listening test really gives the wearer a run for their money in terms of both presence and low bass. Just as if you were standing very close to the speakers in a club or at a rock concert. We particularly liked the bass right from the start: abysmal, rich, but with good timing and quick impulses. Whether we were listening to hip hop, rock or electronic beats, we have rarely heard such a fun bass without thickening and without dominance over the mid-high frequencies.
At the top, it might be a bit too much of a good thing for most listeners. The basic tonal tuning ranges from present to intrusive. So immediately use the equalizer in the app and in particular reduce the frequencies above 1 kHz and add a fundamental tone around 400 Hz.
This allows the Monitor II A.N.C. to be brought to a tonally balanced level. The already good space also grew even deeper. But it doesn’t change its basic character: fast, rocking, playful and sometimes a little snotty. Those who like to listen to fine voices or acoustic instruments won’t really be happy with it. In addition to a slight tendency to color overtones, he didn’t take it too seriously with a silky high-frequency resolution and presented almost every recording as an adrenaline fest.
Beats are beautiful
Although the Monitor II A.N.C. seemed suitable for practically all music genres except very complex classical music, it is most fun with electronic beats. So much so that we almost wished for a little more level.
Marshall Monitor II A.N.C. – verdict and alternatives
If you like a headphone that permanently gives you full dynamics and adrenaline on the twelve – you have already found your favorite headphone in the Marshall Monitor II A.N.C.. And will gladly pay the extra price compared to a model with a sleeker design.
If the design is of secondary importance to you, the Teufel Real Blue NC is a similarly dynamic headphone at a lower price, which even delivers a little more in terms of balance and maximum level than the Marshall.
Technical specification: Marshall Monitor II A.N.C.
- Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: 300 Euro
- Type: Over-ear, closed
- Transducer principle: Dynamic
- Weight: 320 g
- Special features: 40 mm drivers, Marshall Bluetooth app. Carrying case, 3.5-millimeter jack cable, USB-C charging cable
- Battery life up to 30/45 hours (with/without ANC)
- More at: www.marshallheadphones.com