Bottom line: Great sound and a comfortable fit highlight these somewhat wireless headphones that offer excellent battery life in a design you'll enjoy.
Great battery life
Iconic, retro look
Ordinary, not extraordinary sound
Not the best sound range
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Long known for its popular music amplifiers and speakers, British-based Marshall is slowly making a splash with its growing lineup of personal headphones and earphones. The 2020 Marshall Monitor II ANC headphones are the company's best to date thanks to its long battery life, customizable noise cancelation, and comfortable feel. The funky retro look is also appealing. Still, headphones aren't for everyone, as you'll read below.
A welcome addition
What is the Marshall Monitor II ANC?
The 2020 Marshall Monitor II ANC over-ear headphones are designed inside and out to impress and provide an enjoyable listening experience. The black Bluetooth 5.0 wireless headphones offer two comfort-fitting oval-shaped earcups that can be worn for hours at a time thanks to the flexible headband.
Yes, they're that comfortable!
On each cup is Marshall branding, leaving no doubt who made these cans. Exposed coiled cords offer further proof of their iconic pedigree.
On the right cup, you'll find a golden control knob used to turn the headphones on/off, and also play, pause, and shuffle music. Use the control knob also to answer, reject, and end calls from your mobile device. The M button, also on the right cup, is customizable from the Marshall Bluetooth app. You can use the button to move between customized equalizers or to initiate communication with Apple Siri or Google Assistant.
Meanwhile, on the left cup is the ANC button, which allows you to move between active noise cancelation and monitoring mode. The latter setting reminds me of the transparency mode on the Apple AirPods Pro, which lets you hear music with a hint of the outside noise too.
The left cup also hosts a 3.5mm audio port for the included coiled wire, and USB-C charging port.
At 320 grams, the Marshall Monitor II ANC headphones are fully collapsible and fit nicely in the Marshall-branded carrying bag. The beautiful denim bag adds to the overall Marshall look while also providing modest protection for the headphones when not in use.
Finally, the Marshall Monitor II ANC headphones provide up to an impressive 30 hours of music with ANC activated. With Bluetooth only, the cans can last up to 45 hours between charges. With fast-charging, you can add up to five hours of wireless playtime in just 15 minutes. It takes two hours to get a full battery charge.
Marshall Monitor II ANC: What I like
When I listen to music for hours at a time, I typically choose traditional headphones over earbuds such as the AirPods Pro. Unfortunately, most of the cans on the market do a number on my head, usually because of an inferior band. The Marshall Monitor II ANC headphones are among the most comfortable I have ever tested. They are more comfortable than the industry-leading Sony WH-1000XM3 and in the same neighborhood as the Bose QuietComfort 35.
I'm also impressed with how long the Marshall headphones last between charges. When you forget when you last charged a device, you know the battery life is good.
Everyone who makes noise-canceling headphones needs to offer an app. Otherwise, moving between modes is sometimes problematic. The Marshall Bluetooth app isn't great in terms of its design. However, it gets its many jobs done with ease. The app, for iOS and Android, allows you to control the level of noise-canceling and transparency on the fly using 0 to 100% sliders. You also use the app to adjust the M button and equalizer settings. Beyond this, you can use the app to set an auto-off timer and rename your headphones. The app also works as a bare-bones music player, for better or worse.
What about noise-canceling?
No one does ANC better than Bose, but Marshall does a super job here nonetheless. Throw in the ANC and transparency customization tools, and the company has stepped up to the plate and deserves a celebration. On the ANC alone, I would recommend these headphones.
Marshall Monitor II ANC: What I don't like
There's nothing wrong or negative about these headphones. My only grip has to do with the sound they produce, and in many respects, my concerns are best boiled down as subjective, at best.
Custom-tuned 40mm dynamic drivers provide what Marshall calls its "superior signature sound." You can adjust this sound slightly by selecting from one of the many presets located in the app, including Rock, Pop, Hip-Hop, Jazz, and more. You can also create a customized EQ setting by adjusting frequencies between 160Hz and 6.25kHz.
I'm not sure superior is the correct word here for any of the sound choices, unfortunately. Instead, I'd say Marshall offers a balanced sound, at best, with adequate movement across the low, mid, and high frequencies, which you can slightly tweak. In some songs, especially those with high-frequencies, I detected the occasional muffle, though not enough to complain all that loudly.
Overall, while this balanced approach is probably more than enough to turn off bass-focused users, it does make sense for a product for the masses. Keep all this in mind before making a choice.
One more detail
Perhaps it's only because of my big hands, but I sometimes had a difficult time finding the buttons on these headphones when in use. The M and ANC buttons specifically are small, having been designed to fade into the background. The golden control knob, by contrast, was easier to find during use.
What about the price?
At $320, the Marshall Monitor II ANC headphones are appropriately priced and, with the occasional discount, significantly less than competitive products, including the Sony WH-1000XM3.
What's in the box?
The Monitor II ANC headphones come with a removable 3.5 mm cable, user manual, USB-C charging cable, and carrying bag that features a Marshall label.
Worth your time
Marshall Monitor II ANC Headphones
We're thrilled to see these headphones arrive on the market. Beautifully designed and durable, the Marshall Monitor II ANC headphones are comfortable, stylish, and provide hours of use between charges. Though hyper-audiophiles might not like the sound they produce, nearly everyone else will, with or without ANC.
You must take a look
Against, Marshall's best to date.
Comfy, beautiful with great battery life. An excellent choice for most headphone users.
Have any questions?
If you have any questions or concerns about the Marshall Monitor II ANC headphones or wireless headphones in general, leave a comment below.
Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.