Marshall’s Mode II earbuds are stuck between rock and a hard price

Marshall, a British company best known for its tremendous guitar amps, has built a solid reputation for headphones and earbuds over the past few years. It’s a bit pricey, but I love the Marshall Monitor II ANC headphones that fit the style and the clever mini joystick for controlling audio playback. But now Marshall is moving into the true wireless earbuds market. It’s too late for the party.

The new Mod II earbuds, priced at $179, will start shipping on March 18 and mark Marshall’s perceived arrival with “wonderful” sound, wireless charging, IPX4 waterproofing, and a design that feels like home next to the company’s other products. It aims to complement. product. Being the first stab of true wireless, these earbuds are very good for the price. But its price is probably the biggest downside.

These certainly look like some of the Marshall earbuds. The case is proudly embossed with the Marshall logo on the top and a leather-like finish with the same texture as the Monitor II headphones with a USB-C port on the left. When you open the case, you’ll find the earbuds, three LEDs indicating the charging status of the case and each bud, and a round gold button inside the case for pairing. Marshall claims that the case has enough juice to fully charge the earbuds four times. Mode II can be enjoyed for up to 5 hours in a row, so it takes a total of 25 hours.

The earbuds have a matte black finish and the “M” stands out very much. You are definitely wearing the Marshall brand with these. It’s not as big as some of its competitors like the Jabra Elite 75t and it’s very compact. Marshall comes with 4 sizes of silicone eartips in the box. It looks great including the XL option. Some foam tips would have been better.

The Mode II earbuds are on the small side and don’t stick out too far from your ears.

Marshall’s signature control nub is a bit unrealistic for earbuds, so like so many other earbuds, the Mod II earbuds also use a tap gesture. The controls are not customizable and unfortunately there is no way to adjust the volume yourself.

Left earbud

Tap once to use invisible mode or answer a call.
Double-tap to see the voice assistant.

Right earbud

Tap once to pause/play or answer a call.
Double-tap to skip to the next track.
Tap three times to return to the last track.

In particular, there are times when you need to tap harder than you expected to register some of these commands on the right earbud. The harder tab pushed the earbuds deeper into my ear, making it unpleasant.

We also encountered some weird bugs in mode II like not playing audio until you touch the right earbud. Occasionally there was a noticeable balance/phase issue as the vocal slipped between the left and right earbuds. Both of those matters mostly It was resolved with the latest firmware update, but sometimes pop-ups appear Marshall said another OTA update will be released before Mode II is shipped to customers to further smoothen the performance.

Bugs aside, these earbuds sound very good. I was listening to The Hold Steady’s new album Open door policy, And there is a lot to do with some songs. Mode II earbuds are great for keeping everything distinct in the mix: guitars, horns, keys, vocals, and drums. The finest frequencies may sound slightly amplified on some tracks depending on how they are created, but they are not pierced. If you don’t like the default “Marshall sound” tuning, we provide you with complete EQ control through the Marshall app. AAC and SBC codecs are supported.

Marshall’s brand is on both the front and the back.

As always, fit and good sealing are important to get the best sound. Especially here. Even with the XL tip, if you want the most bass and balanced sound stage, this is the kind of earbuds that you should turn to your ears in the right way. It doesn’t get loose, but something about the fit can be a bit tricky in my experience, but you can plug it in without thinking much about other earphones.

Mode II earbuds don’t include any kind of active noise canceling, but Marshall has added a transparent mode in case you need to hear more clearly what’s happening around you. The best thing I can say about this feature is that the service is available. However, the ambient sound is much weaker than the airy and natural transparent mode of other earbuds. Voice call performance is average. The people I spoke to could hear me well, but noticed that my voice was a bit empty, quivering and trembling. The same was true when I listened to the sample voice memo again.

This case is easy to carry and supports wireless charging.

There are separate LEDs to indicate the charging status of the earbuds and case.

Marshall finishing features include an automatic pause when removing buds and should be suitable for normal exercise thanks to its IPX4 rating. Like most true wireless earbuds, it doesn’t support multipoint for two simultaneous Bluetooth connections. But you can do Use either one independently.

If the Marshall Mode II bird’s price is $130 or $100, I think it will get a more positive review overall. But for $180, there’s no real trick to reach them beyond your existing competitors. The case is sleek, fully portable, and includes wireless charging. Sound quality is good, but Marshall isn’t enough to beat its competitors at the same price point. Plus, for an extra $30 to $50, you get a set of true wireless earbuds with decent noise cancellation.

Folded too late, Marshall had to turn the knob all the way to 11, but the Mode II earbuds don’t get there, and the style point is less important than the company’s wireless headphones, which have a nice design. It’s so striking.

Photograph by Chris Welch / The Verge

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