Reviews

Marshall Major Headphones (White) Review

 

Marshall has been around in the audio business for quite a long time.  The name has too much history and prestige behind it, something that it has gained or achieved for the quality guitar amplifiers the brand is attached to.  Marshall has never been into the production of headphones and until the Major and Minor products came out, it has never been associated with audio accessories.  It’s still not into the production of headphones as in fact, the current line of Marshall headphones are manufactured by Zounds, the company behind the brand Urbanears.   In this review, you’ll find out if indeed the Marshall Major headphones are worthy of the Marshall branding.

Technical Specifications

  • Transducer                         40mm Moving coil dynamic speaker
  • Sensitivity                           121 ± 3dB at 1kHz 1mW (single speaker)
  • Rated input power            15mW
  • Impedance                          32 Ω ± 15% at 1kHz
  • Frequency respond           20 ~ 20kHz
  • Maximum input power    20mW

Packaging

The packaging of the Marshall Major headphones is a deviation from what we usually see on products, on headphones to be precise.  Instead of the flashy, colorful, or otherwise fancy packaging, the Marshall Major is housed in a brown cardboard material with simple white text.  If you don’t pay attention to what’s printed on the box, you’d easily think that the packaging houses a mug or a book.  Needless to say, the packaging alone gives the product an added cool factor, telling you that what’s inside is something special.

Opening the packaging is quite simple.  Most of the upper portion of the box acts as cover and when the tapes on the sides are peeled off, pulling the upper part reveals the headphones in all its white glory.  The headphones is held to the base with plastic wirings.  Also held to the cardboard base are the 3.5mm plug and the 6.3mm plug adaptor.  Turn the cardboard base over and what you see are the plastic wires holding the headphones.  The package includes a neutral plug extension for phones that might cause issue with the headset.  Other than these, there’s nothing else inside the packaging. The Marshall Major headphones does not include a carrying case.

  

Design

Now let’s go to the Marshall Major’s design.  From the first time I saw the headphones, I instantly liked it.  I’m not one who easily takes a liking to white-colored accessories.  I like them black or silver, or both, and a little red trimming or accent wouldn’t hurt.  So if I were to choose between black and white, you’ll almost always see me choosing black.

But the Marshall Major managed to be an exception.  It has an uncanny appeal to it.  Maybe it’s the fact that it’s not made of glossy white materials. Maybe it’s because of the brown padding under the band, or possibly the gold accents. Or maybe it’s a combination of all these elements.  I had the chance to see the black version of the Marshall Major and I can definitely say with conviction that the white cans have way more appeal than the black version.  The black Major is dull, the white Major is classy and funky.  This is no less a fashion accessory than Beats by Dr. Dre headphones.

You’ll see the Marshall spirit in the Major’s design.  The ear cups are square shaped, making the headphones distinct and giving it a retro look.  The leather accents are seen all over the Major.  The band is covered by an exterior that’s made out of the same vinyl used in Marshall amplifiers.  The lining under is made of brown leather on which the name Jim Marshall is printed in gold.

The outer cover of the ear cups, although made of plastic, again imitates the texture of Marshall amplifiers and blends well with the vinyl headband.  The black Marshall logo, meanwhile, is shown prominently on the outer part of the cups.  Overall, the design and accents contribute to a totally Marshall look and feel.

 

A lot of thinking went into the design of the Marshall Major.  It’s pretty obvious even in the little design details like the gold plugs and the strain relief that resemble guitar cable plugs.  The weaved fabric that lines the ear cup monitors also adds appeal to the Major.

 

I like the fact that the Major’s wire is coiled midway.  I appreciate this design element in headphones since it allows for better mobility and prevents tugging when the wire accidentally hooks into something.  The cord is also reasonably thick and gives the impression that it is sturdy enough and ready for heavy use.  There’s an in-line mic with a control button about four inches below the ear cup and about an inch above the coil.   The button acts as a control for receiving phone calls and can be used to pause/play songs during playback.

  

The hinge-mounted ear cups are also sufficiently padded by soft leather with just the right amount of cushion.  They can be moved up and down through the thick wires that hold the cups to the hinge.  The mechanism makes it possible to fold the earcups inwards, making the entire headphones easy to store.

Performance

If there’s one word that will describe the overall sound performance of the Marshall Major, it’s “balanced”.  Most headphones exhibit strength at delivering only specific elements.  There are headphones that are good only at bass, or at mids and highs, or at sound stage, but it’s seldom that you see headphones showing promise in delivering all these elements in just one package.  The Marshall Major does everything well, and this I believe is its real strength.  It’s not exceptional and mind-blowing by any means but the Major capably delivers these elements, and at times with really impressive results.  This is the reason the Major is good for listening to any type of music, something that’s quite hard to achieve.

The first thing that grabs my attention when it comes to headphones is bass response, not only because it’s the strongest of the elements but because for me it’s what really injects life into a track.  I have tried numerous headphones and inadequate bass response always kills the listening experience, mostly after the first few seconds into a song.  The Major showed promise on the first few seconds of use, advancing to minutes and hours without exhibiting real bass response inadequacies.  This means I was fairly satisfied at how the Major handled low frequencies the very fist time I used it.  Bass quality is not perfect by any means and in fact at times, I found myself looking for that rich bass texture.

Make no mistake, though.  The bass on the Major is versatile.  It’s there when you play bass-intensive music like rap and R&B, and it also delivers when you’re listening to ear-shattering heavy metal music.  You’ll appreciate how it handles the range of low frequencies, although it’s not perfect by any means.  The lowest frequencies lack detail at times although you have to really nitpick to notice this shortcoming.   Again, the bass response on the Major is generally good, and bass power is never a problem with these cans.

What the Marshall Major lacks in bass detail it more than makes up for in sound stage.  The Marshall Major exhibits a really admirable soundstage that translates to a pleasurable listening experience, and this is present in practically the whole range of music you use the headphones on.  Pop, rock, jazz, R&B and even heavy metal tracks all sound live and dynamic, thanks to the Major’s wide sound stage.

But what the Marshall Major is really best at is in delivering those mid frequencies. These cans deliver unmistakably rich and highly detailed mids.  On vocals-intensive tracks with heavy guitar riffs, the Marshall Major really shines.  Listening to Franco’s songs like The Gathering and Castaway bring out the best in the Marshall Major.  Its a similar experience with tracks from Rage Against the Machine and even Nirvana. If there’s anything the Major is less good at, it’s in delivering high frequencies.  The Major sometimes falters in handling highs and this is evident when listening to songs at high volume.  This is not to be taken against the Major though as even in high frequencies, the details are still lush, although try to keep the volume at normal levels.

The Marshall Major shines when it comes to sound performance but it needs to be mentioned that extended use of these cans can cause strain ont the ears as the pressure on the headband seems a little strong.  Unlike on-ear with huge earcups, the cans on the Major is nestled right on the earlobes and although this is quite welcome since it translates to better sound isolation, it gets hot and uncomfortable after long use.  So expect to give the Major some rest after about an hour of use.

Wrap-up

For the price of P4,650 (about $105), the Marshall Major is quite a good deal.  It’s good looking with a great amount of cool factor, thanks to the prestige the Marshall name brings to the package, not to mention the classic design elements sprinkled all over.  The Major is also solidly built.

In terms of sound quality, the Marshall Major is a very good option if you’re looking for your next headphones.  These cans are balanced, being able to deliver a consistently great listening experience on all genres of music.  Sound isolation is quite satisfactory, and if you’re one who listens to your music at high volume, the Major will easily drown out outside noise.  I have used the Major for two weeks and I liked its performance a lot.  It’s capable of exhibiting rich, dynamic bass and also shines in handling the mid frequencies.  I enjoyed listening to rock, alternative and heavy metal tracks on the Major, although it’s still good at playing bass-heavy tunes.  I’m not saying that the Major is the best-sounding on-ear headphones ever built.  Audiophiles and purists will most likely see inadequacies with the Major and suggest some other alternatives.  But it’s certainly no slouch and it’s definitely not mediocre.  It’s actually good, and I love that it’s able to sound good on different types of music.

If you’re planning to use the Major for extended periods, though, prepare to experience a certain amount of discomfort since the cans get a little hot on the earlobes after a while.

If you’re planning to buy the Marshall Major, you may head over to these stores:

  • 8Telcom – Davao Astrovision
  • Beyond The Box
  • Digital Hub
  • Digital Hub – CDO
  • Digital Walker
  • ECentral – Cebu
  • Gadgets iN Style
  • HTC – MOA
  • iStore – Cebu
  • iStore – Dumaguete
  • iStudio
  • Listening Room
  • PC Hub
  • Power Hub – Davao
  • Power Mac Center
  • Switch
  • Technoholics
  • Urban Athletics

Rating: 8.9/10 

Vivo X21
13 comments
  1. anti fatigue mats

    An impressive second act, the classic Major kicks up its performance a
    few notches. Updated sound, looks and durability, as well as improved
    ergonomics, give way to a whole new level of listening. A rock-solid
    character that’s built to last, the Major II makes its presence known.

  2. yo

    Anyone knows how to clean the non-glossy white plastic?? it became too dirty and i can´t clean it with nothing, i used alcohol, dishes cleaner, glass cleaner, oven cleaner, even tryied with wd-40, but i can´t clean the stains made only by fingerprints and dust!!! . any help??

  3. travelalltheway

    I think the only good thing about it is its looks. Otherwise, its bad. I’d describe sound quality as “muddy.” Not worthy of the Marshall branding, if the Marshall brand represents sound quality over looks. Cheaper (although admittedly less cool looking) options like the Sennheiser PX-100 or Koss PortaPros sound waay better.

  4. James

    Hi! Before anything else, I want to say congratulations and good job for having a very detailed review. Kudos for that.  

    Though, I have to strongly disagree to this review. Sorry. I am an Audiophile and I have both the major and the minor headphones by Marshall. Let me put it very simple, If you care about FASHION and a decent sound then get this right away, hands down. But if you care about the sound quality then best look for a different one.

    Highs:
    Harsh and bright. It hurts my ears sometimes. Try to listen to Titanium by David Guetta feat. Sia, you will know what i mean. 

    Mids:
    It gives a very clear and clean mids but its too bright as well.

    Lows:
    Doesn’t go very deep. With an amplifier like Fiio E11, bass can be a bit desirable. Type of bass would be punchy and not loose.

    Sound Stage:
    This is where it gets juicy, you said the Sound Stage is good but really its not. This is not a personal preference. Go to head-fi.org all members that reviewed the Major had one same thing to say about these cans, and that is that the sound stage is very poor.  Do not expect good sound stage from the Major. Why? Because its a closed back cans and its on the ear. So there really isn’t any room for sound stage.

    Comfort:People reported that can only wear the Major for 20-30 mins only. I was able to endure up to an hour. There is a remedy luckily. At night, put a pillow or something soft in between the cans. Leave it for at least 6 hours and the next morning this problem will be gone. Make sure not to stretch it too far though.Isolation:Doesn’t isolate sound very well. It will leak sound and will let outside noise get in. So if you are the type of person that likes high volumes, then expect other people to be bothered. For low volumes or mid volumes, this is not an issue.Build:I had mine sent back for warranty after 3 months. The right ear cup just suddenly stopped working. Good thing they replaced it right away within that same day. (Greenhills/V.mall/Astrovision)Value:You can get better sounding headphones for the price. A good example is the Sennheiser PX200-II , Audio Technica SJ55, AKG K518. These headphones may not look as great, but it definitely blows the Major out of the water in terms of sound quality. It will do a very good job if you will listen mainly to rock, heavy metal, acoustic, jazz, classical. But please do take note of its bright mid range. Does a poor job for R&B, hiphop, dubstep, or techno. So again, the Marshall Major is NOT an all around headphones. 

    Please do checkout 
    http://www.head-fi.org/  for a complete review. Sorry but people might be mislead by this. If you are not convinced still then better check this review from an audiophile/sound engineer:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_woi5OtZl8A 

    1. Anonymous

      Hey dude, thanks for sharing this.  I welcome comments like these.  It’s healthy for the readers 🙂 I’ll just quote what I said in the wrap-up:

      “I’m not saying that the Major is the best-sounding on-ear headphones ever built.  Audiophiles and purists will most likely see inadequacies with the Major and suggest some other alternatives.  But it’s certainly no slouch and it’s definitely not mediocre.  It’s actually good, and I love that it’s able to sound good on different types of music.”

      So there you go. Like I said, it’s not the best out there. As expected, an audiophile like you sees a lot of inadequacies with the Major. And you in fact suggested alternatives like I predicted 🙂 Still, the Major has a lot going for it. Very cool design, good sounding, but with flaws of course. I was satisfied with these headphones, and for the price, I maintain that it’s a good option.

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