Marshall Major III Bluetooth review: rocking wireless headphones | Tech News

The Marshall Major III Bluetooth headphones are the latest in the much-loved British audio brand’s wireless headphone range, and while the changes are minor over the last pair they are still a winning combination of look, sound and battery life.

Classic Marshall styling slimmed down

You’d be hard pressed to notice the difference at first glance between 2016’s Major II Bluetooth and the new Major III Bluetooth. But compare them side by side and you realise they are slimmer and better looking, maintaining the classic Marshall styling in black vinyl.

In fact, the new headphones are 24g lighter, which combined with softer ear pads make them a touch more comfortable to wear. They still squeeze my head pretty hard, but the top band does give a bit so they will eventually wear in.

They are on-ear headphones, meaning they sit directly on your ear, not around it. The arms are slimmer and simplified, but maintain their height, twisting and tilting degrees of freedom so that they sit flat against your ear.

Connectivity and controls





The joystick on the left earcup takes care of the controls. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

The controls have been simplified for the Major III, with the brilliant gold-coloured metal joystick at the bottom of the left phone taking over all functionality. Hold it in for a few seconds to turn them on or off, press it once to pause or play the music, twice to trigger Google Assistant or Siri, tilt it left or right to skip the track and up or down to adjust volume. It all works very well, making you wonder why so many other manufacturers don’t have a similar control scheme.

The Bluetooth connection is strong in all scenarios and supports aptX for higher fidelity and lower latency streaming with modern Android smartphones. Pairing is easy – just hold down the joystick for a few more seconds when powering the headphones on and find them on your phone.

A standard 3.5mm analogue headphone socket is in the right ear cup for listening wired or when the battery runs out.

Sound





marshall major III bluetooth review



The improved padding and lighter earcups still produce loud, clear sound that suits a wider variety of genres. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

The Major headphones have always sounded good with rock and similar genres, but the Major III Bluetooth suit a wider range of music types. They still sound great with driving rock music, but feed them something slightly more subtle such as the live version of Hotel California by the Eagles from Hell Freezes Over and you can hear good separation, punchy bass drums and clear vocals.

The sound is very direct and those looking for thundering bass will have to look elsewhere. But the Marshalls make anything sound good, from Librarian by My Morning Jacket and Do I Wanna Know? by the Arctic Monkeys at the indie-rock end of things, to hip-hop tracks such as Dr Dre’s Forgot About Dre or Can’t Take It With Me by Blue Sky Black Death.

30 hours between charges





marshall major III bluetooth review



The headphones are charged via microUSB cable with a small LED light showing power state. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

The new Marshalls lasted well over 30 hours in my testing, making them some of the longest-lasting Bluetooth headphones around. You’ll probably be able to go weeks of commuting between charges, even at relatively high volumes.

They charge in half the time that the older model did, going from dead to fully charged in around three hours via the microUSB socket in the right earcup.

Observations





marshall major III bluetooth review



The classic Marshall styling has been slimmed down and updated for 2018. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian
  • You can share your music by plugging in a headphone cable to the headphones when streaming music via Bluetooth
  • They fold up to become relatively compact for travel
  • The Major IIIs isolate relatively well for on-ear headphones, meaning you don’t have to have the music blasting out
  • The old Major II Bluetooth headphones were pretty robust and the new ones feel similarly well made
  • They only connect to one device at any one time, but can be paired with multiple phones, tablets and computers

Price

The Marshall Major III Bluetooth only come in black and cost £129, which puts them in the mid-range of Bluetooth headphones. Competitors range from around £50 and up. The previous generation Major II Bluetooth are still on sale for £69, while a wired-only version of the Major III cost £69 and the Marshall Mid Bluetooth cost £169.

Verdict

The Marshall Major III Bluetooth are another brilliant pair of wireless on-ear headphones from the British audio brand that bring great sound, very long battery life and classic styling.

They aren’t perfect, squeezing my head a little too hard, lacking NFC for instant pairing and with the cost of Bluetooth headphones coming down over the last couple of years they’re not quite as good value as they were in 2016.

But the Major III Bluetooth are packed with small improvements over almost every aspect of the design, fit and sound compared to the previous generation, and worth considering, particularly if you’re into driving rock music.

Pros: great sound, long battery life, great controls, fold up for travel, sturdy, great look, good connectivity

Cons: on-ear design may not be comfortable for everyone, no NFC for one-touch pairing





marshall major III bluetooth review



The included cable allows the headphones to be used wired without needing battery power. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

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