Marshall Motif ANC headphones review: another hit

All of the Marshall brand home audio products that I have tested lately are in the 95th percentile in terms of audio quality, style, and features. The $ 200 Marshall Motif ANC True Wireless Headphones reviewed here is the latest example.

Zound Industries of Sweden manufactures home audio products (speakers, headphones and earphones) under license from rock music icon Marshall Amplification. Zound does a faithful job of conjuring up the Marshall spirit by coating one element or another of its licensed products with Tolex, a rough grain fabric reminiscent of lizard skin. You’ll find it here on the outside of the Motif’s charging case. If the vaguely reptilian appearance doesn’t bother you, you’ll like the feel and grip that Tolex imparts to the case.

The charging case has enough power to charge the headphones for 20 hours of listening time with active noise cancellation (ANC) on and 26 hours with noise cancellation off. The batteries in both the case and the headphones (200 mAh batteries in the latter) are fully charged in three hours. A 15 minute charge of the headphones will provide approximately one hour of listening time.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best noise-canceling headphones, where you will find reviews of competing offerings, as well as a buyer’s guide on the features to consider when purchasing this type of product.

Headphone battery life is necessarily a compromise. Batteries that would last all day would be too heavy to be comfortable or to remain safe in your ears. Zound promises 4.5 hours of continuous listening with Motif ANC enabled and 6 hours without it.

The charging case features a battery / status indicator and a USB-C charging port. Pressing and holding the button below the indicator starts Bluetooth pairing with your audio sources (smartphone, tablet, digital audio player, etc. Up to three sources can be remembered).

marshall motif anc lead b Marshall

Marshall Motif ANCs sound great right out of the box, but you can also EQ them to taste with the Marshall app.

The Motif ANC is equipped with a Bluetooth 5.1 radio. It has three ANC modes: on, off, and transparent. In transparent mode, all four headphone microphones transmit ambient sound, so you can maintain situational awareness. I recommend the latter when strolling or not wearing headphones at all. Being a music mole isn’t as safe here in San Francisco as it once was (well, it probably never was).

Touching the outside of the headphones controls various functions (play / pause, next / previous, answer / hang up, etc.). You can change long-touch functionality (ANC, EQ, etc.), change EQ modes, and change other settings in the Marshall app.

Zound says very low impedance 6mm drivers (16 ohms) offer a frequency response of 20Hz to 20,000Hz. I believe so. Which brings me to the sound quality.

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