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I've tried Sony and Bose, but I keep coming back to these Marshall headphones
I’ve always been more of an earbud person than a headphones person. The size, weight, and portability of earbuds — even back when we only had 3.5mm wired ones — were much more appealing than the bulkiness of a pair of over-ear headphones. But a more rigorous working schedule and noisier environments forced me to get a pair of wireless headphones at one point a few years ago.
Over time, I’ve tried several headphones from Bose, Sony, JBL, Anker/SoundCore, and Poly. My favorites were the super lightweight and comfortable Bose QC35 for a couple of years, but I was sent a review unit of the Marshall Monitor II ANC two years ago and I haven’t looked back since.
I received the Marshall Monitor II ANC two years ago and I haven't looked back since.
Not the Bose QC35 II nor the Bose Headphones 700 that came with my Pixel 5 and Pixel 6 Pro pre-orders in France, respectively, were able to take me away from these Marshalls. I never expected to like this pair so much, but I do because of two very important factors: comfort and portability.
Objectively speaking, the Marshall Monitor II ANC isn’t an outstanding headset in any way, and it certainly doesn’t feel like it deserves its asking price. That’s why a lot of reviewers weren’t very emphatic about it when it launched. It didn’t make any best lists or ranked high in anyone’s recommendations.
But headphones — just like earbuds — are very subjective, and the most formidable spec sheet and sound don’t matter if you can’t actually wear them for a long period of time. Or if you end up leaving them in one spot because they’re too unwieldy to carry around. And the Marshall pair, for me, checks both of those boxes.
The most awesome spec sheet and sound quality don't matter if you can't actually wear the headphones for a long period of time.
On paper, I had expected the 320 grams of weight to be a dealbreaker, but these headphones are so incredibly comfortable and fit around my head so well that I don’t feel the extra weight compared to the 196 grams of the Bose QC35 II.
The headband is cushy but stable — it doesn’t slide back over my hair like the super smooth one on the Bose 700. The ear pads fit perfectly around my ears, and everything twists to accommodate my head shape without any strain, unlike many Anker and JBL headphones I’ve tried. Several hours of continuous listening don’t cause any headache or pressure, and I don’t feel like I need to take them off after an hour or two.
These headphones are so incredibly comfortable to wear and wrap around my head with lots of stability and very little pressure.
This twisting is also crucial in making these so surprisingly compact and easy to carry around. Compared to the likes of the Sony WH-1000XM series, I had thought that the Bose QC45 and QC35 were the gold standards of portability, but the Marshall Monitor II ANC surpasses even those.
The entire headset can roll into a pseudo-ball shape and be carried around in a small pouch — no hard case needed. It even fits in the smallest crossbody sling I own. Although I tend to use these headphones at my desk, I have no qualms about carrying them in my bag or wearing them in public, something I often avoid with other pairs because of the space they occupy and how ridiculous they look on my head.
This is my new gold standard for headphone portability.
Aside from these two factors, everything about the Marshall Monitor II ANC is good enough in my books. The matte black metal construction, golden metallic button, and soft faux leather add up to an understated high-quality feeling — certainly higher quality than the Bose QC35 for example. The sound quality is good enough for my non-audiophile ears, and the Active Noise Cancellation is acceptable. USB-C charging, Bluetooth Multipoint, Google Fast Pair, and 30 hours of battery life round up the decent spec list.
Everyone’s needs and use cases are different and, if I valued noise cancellation or microphone quality more than comfort or portability, I might have moved on to another pair of headphones by now. But for my own use, the Marshall Monitor II ANC is the perfect headset and I don’t see myself moving away soon. Maybe once version III is released?