Marshall Major headphone review

Rock N Roll flair in a contemporary set of headphones

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Marshall Major
  • Marshall Major
  • Marshall Major
  • Marshall Major
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Work with almost any device
  • Cool design and a great cord

Cons

  • Sound quality is poor for all but mp3
  • No carry case or pouch
  • No volume control on remote

Would you buy this?

Marshall has a long and glorious history in amplifier production. Chances are one of your favourite artists has used a Marshall amplifier at some point. Somehow, the sight of a Marshall stack at a concert provides a sense of comfort and familiarity, not to mention that distinctive wholesome Marshall sound. The question then arises, can Jim and his friends reproduce this in the mid-range headphone market?

The Marshall Major Pitch Black on-ear headphones have a simple, lightweight design that provides reasonable sound quality. We tested the headphones with a Samsung Galaxy S4 and an iPod Nano primarily. The results were fairly impressive for a pair of headphones in this price range.

There was some debate in the office surrounding the comfort factor of the Majors. Some of us found them suitable for long periods of listening, while others could not bear to have them on for even an hour.

Design

Inside the box you will find the headphones, a 6.3mm audio adaptor and an L-shaped adapter for the standard 3.5mm jack. The 6.3mm adapter is no doubt a nod to the company’s proud amplifier heritage and is a nice addition, though perhaps unnecessary for a set of headphones in its price range.

One thing that is definitely lacking in the retail package is a carry case. Though the Majors seem durable enough after a few weeks of testing, the absence of even a leather pouch is a bit of a letdown.

The Marshalls seem to tick all the aesthetic markers you would want in a pair of on-ear headphones. They look retro, minimalist and fashionable, which is achieved by using a mixture of materials.

The denim headband is comfortable when worn or around the neck when not in use. The square shaped cups sit on the ear and the faux leather provides ample cushioning. The metal wire that connects the ear cup to the headband is sturdy and fixes the cup in place perfectly without being difficult to adjust. The plastic housing for the connector is similarly robust and is hinged to reduce the footprint when not in use, though the headphones becomes awkward when this is done.

By far the best feature of the Majors is the coiled cord and microphone jack. As any headphone or earphone user will tell you, a tangled cord is one of the most frustrating, and potentially destructive, things you can experience. Marshall have gone some way in eliminating this problem by providing a cord that has ample length to fit in a bag or pocket, and a coiled cord for flexibility.

The remote is another nice feature although limited. It has a single button that is used for receiving calls, as well as playing, pausing and skipping audio tracks. The absence of a volume control is a little disappointing, but we suspect this was done to achieve maximum compatibility with different devices. The microphone seemed to have little issues picking up our voice during calls no matter which way the chord was hanging.

Sound

Read more: Sennheiser HD8: A DJ's review

Let’s face it: if you are considering Marshall headphones, sound quality is going to be a primary concern. Fortunately, the Major Pitch Black headphones do not disappoint.

The headset sports a 40mm moving coil dynamic speaker with impedance of 32 Ohms. The sensitivity is 98.9 dB at 1 KHz and the frequency response ranges between 20 Hz and 20 kHz.

These numbers are pretty standard when it comes to headphones in this price range. The performance is not particularly startling and we did notice the Majors were a bit lacking in lower frequencies on certain tracks. For this review we mainly used Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) files and the occasional mp3 where FLAC was unavailable.

Being a pair of Marshall headphones, there was of course only one album to listen to first when testing: AC/DC’s Back in Black. The title track to the best-selling rock n roll album in history sounded well rounded through the Majors, though we definitely noticed the aforementioned low end deficiency.

Read more: Bowers & Wilkins P5 (Series 2) review: For elegant sound

Common’s The Neighbourhood (feat. Lil Herb and Cocaine 80s) seemed a little hollow. Again the lack of bass let the Major Pitch Blacks down a bit. Vocals were clear and crisp as were snares, hi-hats and keys.

The Majors did perform better on classic tracks like The Rolling Stones’ Street Fighting Man and The Beatles’ Come Together, where the lack of low end was less noticeable. Though enthusiasts will still notice a difference between the Major Pitch Blacks and similarly priced competitors.

Highs and mids were crisp and clear enough in most tracks, and there was little distortion, even at high volumes.

The Final Note

Overall the sonic performance of the Marshalls left a bit to be desired. We have experienced better performance from similarly priced earbuds, which is disappointing to say the least. However, if all you are looking for is a pair of over-ear headphones that will work with a number of devices, have a microphone and don’t weigh too much, the Marshall Major Pitch Blacks are a good choice. If sound quality is not an overwhelming concern then these are definitely worth trying out.

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