There are reviews that take longer than anticipated to complete for any number of reasons. Sometimes there are questions about features, design, or functionality. Other times, if we’re being completely honest, a product simply falls through some cracks. In this case, this review has taken significantly longer than expected for one really great reason: you’re going to have a damn hard time killing the battery on these things. The Marshall Monitor Bluetooth headphones boast about their 30-hour battery life. Do they live up to those lofty expectations? Will you even want to keep them on your head for that long? Keep reading this review to find out.
The Marshall Monitor Bluetooth headphones have the following features and specifications:
- Drivers: 40 mm
- Driver Type: Dynamic
- Driver Impedance: 28Ω
- Driver Sensitivity: 92 dB SPL
- Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
- Wireless Connectivity: Bluetooth v4.0 aptX
- Wired Connectivity: 3.5 mm Input
- Bluetooth Range: 10 m
- Control Knob: Yes
- Microphone & remote: Yes
- Weight: 271 g
- Colourways: Black
- Battery Playing Time: 30 hours + (at medium volume)
- Time to full recharge: 3 Hours
What’s in the Box
- Monitor Bluetooth
- Carrying pouch
- Removable Mic & Remote cable
- USB Charging cable
- User manual
When you think about Marshall cabinets and head units, chances are good a couple specific things come to mind. The cracked black vinyl enclosure, the white script Marshall name mark, brass knobs, and accents, just to name a few. Marshall has applied many of those same design elements to the Marshall Monitor Bluetooth headphones.
Starting at the top, the headband is comprised of a cracked leather-like material on top, with definite similarities to the cracked vinyl of the Marshall cabinets. The underside is a padded leatherette that is sufficiently cushioned for long listening sessions. At the bottom of the padded headband are brass metal plates with the R/L indicator screwed into each side. The metal extensions for the headband come out just past the bottom of the padding, with the hinge allowing the headphones to collapse just below. The headphone cable also extends out from underneath the padding and has a spiral design reminiscent of old-school audio cables. The metal extensions continue to an inverted Y-shape — that includes the “Monitor” model name on the inside — that attaches to the earcups.
The earcups themselves are an oval shape, but they have a relatively low profile. Really the headphones, in general, have a pretty low profile, but I’ll talk more about that shortly. The earcups continue to have the iconic cracked black vinyl on the outside with the even more iconic white script Marshall name mark on both sides. The inside of each earcup is wrapped in a leatherette material with nice padding. The earcup padding can be removed, and Marshall has included a nice little message on the inside of each earcup.
The left earcup includes the one-button control, which is a brass knob that performs all necessary actions on the headphones. The right earcup includes the MicroUSB charging input as well as the 3.5mm passive audio/audio sharing jack and a small microphone towards the front of the earcup. It would have been nice to see USB Type-C here (but really I’d be happy to see USB Type-C just about everywhere these days) though honestly, as we’ll talk about in the battery life section, you won’t be plugging these guys in all that often, so it’s not that big of a concern here.
Where many headphones have a somewhat wide overall footprint, the Marshall Monitor Bluetooth headphones are really pretty svelte. The headband seems a bit taller but narrower, though that doesn’t cause any discomfort at all. As has been widely reported (by me in most any review where it would matter) I’ve got a pretty big head. These headphones, even with their lower profile, were very comfortable and fit my head very nicely.
The included cables also have a very similar look too old-school audio cables. The 3.5mm cable has the same spiral design along with brass plugs, where the body of the plug is textured similarly to guitar audio cable plugs. Even the USB charging cable has a similar diamond pattern on the body of the USB and MicroUSB plug. Marshall definitely has their aesthetic figured out, and they apply it here with impressive results.
Ease of Use
By this point, I think we can all pair Bluetooth peripherals in our sleep for the most part. The Marshall Monitor Bluetooth headphones are pretty much like anything else out there. Press and hold the power button for approximately 5 seconds to start up and enter pairing mode. Find the headphones on your device’s Bluetooth settings and pairing will handle itself.
The multifunction button/knob on the headphones has a very small learning curve simply because it’s not exactly like what you’re accustomed to seeing on Bluetooth headphones. The one button handles all of your controls via tilt and press. Pushing up or down on the controls raises/lowers volume as you’d probably expect. Pushing forward/backward advances or goes back to the previous track. One press of the button plays/pauses your music while also answering or ending a phone call. A double-press will ignore an incoming call.
The control knob really works well after a few minutes of getting used to it. It’s a little different than most other headphones but very effective in its simplicity.
The passive audio cable has an in-line mic with control button which works in the unlikely event that you’re actually able to kill the battery, or just want to be more plugged in on occasion.
I put any headphones that I review through a set playlist of songs. I have a pretty diverse set of music in that setlist, with everything from pop to heavy metal, jazz, dubstep, EDM, punk, and more, each with specific things that I want to listen for. This allows me to have a consistent point of comparison with which to listen.
The Marshall Monitor Bluetooth headphones provide a very big and immersive soundstage. The overall sound is pretty well balanced, so you won’t be getting overbearing bass here, which isn’t a bad thing. There’s enough bass to support really any genre you want to listen to, and trust me these guys will put out a lot of bass when necessary, it’s just not overpowering and out of control as it is on some headphones. The mids and high end are solid and overall very clear.
As sacrilegious as this may sound, I actually liked the Bluetooth audio performance here slightly better than the passive wired audio. Listening to the same track via Bluetooth and wired, there were occasional areas where mids could get a bit muddy while wired where they did not via Bluetooth. Passive/wired performance is still really very good, but these headphones are meant for Bluetooth performance.
As with most all headphones where the mic is up directly next to your ear, callers are going to have a hard time hearing you unless you’re in an absolutely silent room. I could hear callers without issue, though really using the passive audio cable with its inline mic will provide better results if you’re one that likes to take calls on your over-ear headphones. Bluetooth range and reception are pretty standard here, and I had no issues with signal drops or disruptions to my music during normal use.
In a word: ridiculous. Marshall says you’ll get 30+ hours of battery life with these bad boys, and in my testing, that’s pretty accurate. I’m not the kind of person that just simply turns on a pair of headphones and starts a battery rundown test, I actually listen to the headphones I review. That can sometimes get spread over weeks or months and that’s exactly what ended up happening here. I put over 30 full-length albums through the Marshall Monitor headphones before they finally gave in. So, if you need to listen to music for literally an entire day straight (and then some), these headphones have got you covered. Once you do finally manage to kill the battery, it’ll take about 3 hours to recharge. Not a bad exchange at all.
The Marshall Monitor Bluetooth headphones have an MSRP of $249 USD, which considering what you’re getting isn’t unreasonable at all. You can, however, currently find these headphones on Amazon for $149.99 USD, which is an incredible bargain. Great sound, stupid crazy battery life, incredible comfort, iconic Marshall design, you’re getting a really great deal with the Amazon sale price right now.
I do feel bad that it’s taken so long to complete this review, but really, the wait was largely to confirm that you will, in fact, have to try very hard to kill the battery on these headphones. For all of the reasons that I’ve already mentioned — great sound, awesome battery life, comfort, and design, it’s pretty easy to see why the Marshall Monitor Bluetooth headphones are walking away with a Techaeris Top Pick for 2017.
*We were sent a review sample of the Marshall Monitor Bluetooth headphones for the purposes of this review.
Marshall Monitor Bluetooth$249 USD
Ease of Use10/10
- Iconic Marshall design
- Battery life is insane
- Great audio
- Very comfortable to wear
- One-button control works very well
- Minor issue, but wouldn't have minded seeing USB-C for charging
- If you're one that uses headphones for calls, your voice is a bit quiet without the in-line mic