Marshall Monitor II ANC Review
The MID ANC from Marshall caused a real surprise during our test in August 2019 with its great sound that is suitable for all styles. The new Marshall Monitor II ANC should build on the success of the MID ANC and make some things even better. There is now a talk-thru function, voice control, and an app – the Monitor II ANC is also a circumaural receiver. According to the manufacturer, the drivers have also been revised, which increases the tension: How will the Marshall Monitor II fare in the test?
- Rich sound
- Highly effective and adjustable noise cancellation
- Setup requires mobile app
Design at the Marshall Monitor II ANC
Nothing fundamental has changed in the tongue-in-cheek design of the Marshall headphones: The auricles of the Monitor II ANC are reminiscent of guitar boxes that have been washed too hot. However, they are a little larger and slightly more rounded on the back than the MID ANC because the new model is a circumaural receiver, after all. What has remained are the spiral cables, which are reminiscent of connection cables on electric guitars and the metal headband with a cushion made of synthetic leather. The whole design looks classy with its leather look. The Marshall Headphones website proudly states that the headphones are completely vegan and made – real leather is not used anywhere.
Fortunately, the stylish brass-colored multifunction button has been retained because the inconspicuous control element has it all: You can slide it to the side and up or down to adjust the volume and skip tracks. A longer press switches the handset on or off and completes the Bluetooth pairing. That was already ingeniously intuitive with the predecessor, and it still is. In addition, the rotatable and foldable Monitor II ANC has got two more buttons. These are located – why has nobody had this idea before? – in the rear retaining screws that attach the ear cups to the bracket. So they do not disturb the overall design impression. And, even better, they are also with the phone onto be found immediately. This is not only an independent but also an innovative and practical design, bravo! The left button is responsible for active noise canceling (ANC) and talk-thru function, while the right button can be assigned various functions via the app.
Processing and accessories
The quality and the haptic impression of the Marshall handset does not come close to the noble nobility of a Technics F70 or Bowers & Wilkins PX7 but is completely okay. The scope of delivery includes:
- A USB cable and a mini-jack cable.
- A cloth bag that does not protect the Monitor II ANC quite.
- The foldable box that came with the MID ANC.
So far, the only tiny downer.
The sound of the Marshall Monitor II ANC
According to the advertising video, the Monitor II ANC has a specially developed 40mm driver who “delivers the legendary sound that only Marshall has to offer.” Marshall is now known for guitar cabinets with 12 “or 10” full-range speakers. This makes sense for electric guitars, but audiophile in the HiFi sense is different. Therefore, this advertising strategy should be viewed as pretty double-edged. Because young rock musicians may be tempted, HiFi enthusiasts could instinctively turn to Technics, Sony, Bowers & Wilkins, or Dali.
But be careful, dear friends of good sound, you run the risk of missing something: The Monitor II in our test played itself right away in the top class with its extremely balanced reproduction, beautiful dynamics, and good spatiality. Whether pop music with Toni Braxton, jazz with Esbjörn Svensson, or complex arrangements with Lars Danielsson: All material came out of the listener relaxed, tonally correct, and dynamically convincing. The Monitor II ANC does a bit better than its predecessor in terms of resolution and bass reproduction. However, if we listened carefully, we could make out a certain tightness in the sound and a very slight compression in the bass range, and Toni Braxton’s and Paul O’Brien’s voices didn’t sound quite as intimate as with real top-class systems.
Since Marshall is silent about the implemented Bluetooth codecs, we assume that AptX is supported, as with the predecessor, but not AptX HD or even LDAC.
Marshall Monitor II in the test: Better with a cable
Because of the mentioned qualities of the Monitor II ANC, we quickly grabbed the cable. And lo and behold: With the copper connection, the comparatively inexpensive Marshall headphones easily played their way into the league of top models. Compared to the PX7 from Bowers & Wilkins, the Monitor II ANC was even audibly more linear in our test.
Dynamics and stereo display, as well as fine drawing, were on an almost equal level. One only had the impression that the B&W PX7 would shake three-dimensionality and the intimacy of voices a shade more naturally from its sleeve, which the Marshall Monitor II made up for in the test with more balanced tonality, especially in the high- mid-range.
In the end, the differences were a matter of taste, but it must be mentioned that the more expensive B&W PX7 plays a class above the Marshall headphones via Bluetooth. Overall, the Monitor II ANC is a little sensation in terms of sound, which wirelessly plays even more expensive competitors on the wall and surprises with through and through audiophile qualities via cable.
A longer press switches the handset on or off and completes the Bluetooth pairing. That was already ingeniously intuitive with the predecessor, and it still is. In addition, the rotatable and foldable Monitor II ANC has got two more buttons – why didn’t anyone have this idea before? – Located in the rear retaining screws with which the ear cups are attached to the bracket. So they don’t disturb the overall design impression (if you don’t know, you will hardly discover them), and, even better, they can be found immediately even when the receiver is on.
The Monitor II ANC supports Bluetooth 5.0 but no high-resolution codecs such as AptX HD or LDAC. There are also no multipoint connections, which is tolerable, however. The Bluetooth pairing went smoothly, and the connection was maintained even over longer distances without any problems. The only single-stage ANC works effectively and, like the talk-thru function, is pleasantly noise-free.
As with the previous model, the phone functionality was good. The Marshall app enables step-less control of the ANC and talk-thru functions. There is also an equalizer that can save a user-specific setting in addition to various preset curves.
The multifunction button on the right auricle can switch through three freely selectable equalizer curves or activate Google voice control. A motion sensor that switches off the music when the receiver is put down or lifted is not on board, as is customary in this class. The battery life is excellent with up to 30 hours with the ANC switched on.
Operation and practice
The pleasantly light Marshall Monitor II ANC sits very comfortably and stably on the head. The somewhat high contact pressure of the previous model is also a thing of the past. Fortunately, the heat development on the ear is also limited.
As with the predecessor, operation via the brass-colored multifunction button can be carried out intuitively and without errors – in our opinion, there is little better in practice. The two buttons on the back of the ear cups are just as easy to find and have a clear pressure point.
The left button switches between ANC and Talk-Thru mode. Longer pressure switches the ANC off, which has no effect on the sound but increases battery life. As already described, either three equalizer curves predefined by the app can be switched on the left auricle, or voice control can be activated.
All in all, the Marshall Monitor II ANC with its more intelligent solutions can be described as a prime example of user-friendliness.
Our conclusion on the Marshall Monitor II in the test
With its smart design, the Marshall Monitor II ANC can perhaps also polarize a bit. In any case, it scores with effective ANC and its great operating philosophy. His sound is clearly in the top league and doesn’t make any mistakes worth mentioning in any musical style.
His sound is always clear, well-drawn, musical, and fatigue-free. The lack of high-resolution Bluetooth transmission codecs is not to be criticized because of the price range. However, we would still like them – for a few euros more – because the appearance of the Monitor II ANC via cable makes it clear that it easily catches up with the sound reference class could. Nevertheless, Marshall once again delivers a small sensation.