Marshall Mode II Practice: Discreet, True Wireless Headphones for Those About to Rock


Marshall

Marshall has announced its first set of truly wireless noise-canceling in-ear headphones, the $ 179 Marshall Mode II. Although officially a sequel to the original Mode wired headphone, the Mode II is its own beast. In my quick tests, I really liked the sound, but here’s a quick overview.

The Mode II promises five hours of wireless playtime and comes with a slim charging case that offers an additional 20 hours of recharges. The case itself can be charged wirelessly or via USB-C. Marshall’s rubber case is much smaller and lighter than the $ 229 Sony WF-1000XM3and the headphones are half the size of Sony’s. However, the case lid feels a bit flimsier than Sony’s.

The headphones use Bluetooth 5.1 and Marshall has an easy-to-use app for iPhone and Android. The Mode II has an IPX4 water resistance rating (resistant to splashing water from any direction) and comes with a set of four different ear tips.

Marshall Mode II is available to pre-order on Thursday the marshallheadphones.com and will go on sale on March 8. The headphones cost £ 159 in the UK, and while Australian pricing and availability are not yet known, you should expect them to cost around AU $ 300.

Ears

While I prefer to use the Comply tips with the in-house models, I found that even with my huge earholes, the larger silicone tips in the package offered a secure and comfortable fit. Unlike the relatively bulky Sony 1000XM3, it’s easy to forget you’re using the Marshalls, although with maximum noise cancellation, the Sony’s offer ink-like levels of silence compared to the softer version of the Marshalls. In defense of the Mode, I never felt that my head was in the void or that the sound was closed.

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The Sony charging case (left) versus the Marshall.

Ty Pendlebury / CNET

The company calls its default EQ setting “Marshall” and, unsurprisingly, it’s rock-friendly. Without any adjustments, the sound quality was excellent – the mode offers a little treble boost or sharpness, but isn’t bright or hard to hear. What was really found was a sense of balance: the vocals were easy to decipher, the guitars growled like they should, and the bass was strong. If you want to pump up the bass or lower the treble, you can also do that with the app.

In terms of operation, tapping the right earbud stops and the music starts, two taps jump and three taps jump back. Double tapping the left earbud toggles between “transparent mode” and noise cancellation. There is only on or off, no levels or customization, unlike Sony. This means that you must use your phone to control the volume. While the original version of the software allowed for a voice assistant, it doesn’t seem to work with the firmware version I tested (26.3.0). I contacted Marshall for clarification.

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Sony (left) in front of Marshall Mode II.

Ty Pendlebury / CNET

In terms of cons, I had some issues with the phase between the headphones and the intermittent cutoff with a LG V60 on Android 10, and this was especially noticeable in calls. Once I updated the phone to Android 11, the problems ended. Your experience may be different.

Overall, I think the Marshall Mode II is a good set of headphones, and its compact size, understated appearance, and sharp sound will be found by many fans. For more wireless headphone options, see CNET’s roundup of the best true wireless headphones here.

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