Fresh from trying out the new AirPods 3, we have its first competitor, the Marshall Motif ANC earbuds. ANC in the title, so that’s one up already but let’s not compare yet, let’s solely check out these new earbuds.
I was around Marshall amps and cabs throughout my teens and it’s an iconic brand, the font, the black, white and gold. What I love most about Marshall now that they have branched out to headphones, earbuds, is they’ve kept that iconic image and I love it. The Motif earbuds come in a small, black case, with that faux leather-like finish that resembles their amps. Big, bold Marshall logo to the lid and underneath it, some gold text, “established 1962”. The lid is magnetic, there is a single push-button for pairing, small indicator light and a USB C port on the bottom for charging.
The buds themselves follow a similar look, matte black, big ‘M’ logo, with patterned stems. The earbuds come with rubber tips, leading to a large section that sits within your ear. Overall, a compact bud that I think looks fantastic.
Spec-wise, they come with active noise cancellation and transparency mode, plus Bluetooth 5.2. Battery life is circa 26hours, with a 6hours charge in the buds, but that’s reduced if ANC is on. The case does allow for wireless charging and there is a quick charge option, so 15minutes of charge gives about an hour of playback. The buds include touch control and include dual microphones for calls. The buds are IPX5, so they’re sweatproof, while the case itself is IPX4 and includes a scratch-proof finish apparently.
The initial audio performance was a bit off and didn’t blow me away as I was hoping they would. That being said, I downloaded the app and things improved, a lot. I turned ANC on, this improved the sound profile straight away, as well as reducing external sounds. I then went on to pick the Rock EQ option and it brought the buds to life. Rich, bright and punchy, listening to some of my favourite tracks was great. EQ wise, you’re provided with 3 profiles, where you can select an EQ and save it. There are six preset EQ’s, Rock, Spoken, Pop, Hip Hop, Electronic and Marshall. Once you click on one, you can then also adjust it further to suit your preference. That Marshall EQ is different to other EQ’s, it’s a very distinct sound profile, one that suits guitars, classic rock, it is the Marshall Amps sound.
The ANC works very well, it did help the overall performance of the buds and helped reduce external audio. There is a transparency mode as well which defiantly worked and I did not enjoy it when I tested it. Why? it was such a windy day while I was walking the dog, the wind was almost amplified in my ears. However, on a calmer day, this does allow vehicle sounds to come through. ANC and transparency mode effectiveness can be adjusted within the app in increments of 10%, so 0 would mean it’s not on, with 100% being it’s most effective possible.
There are other features within the app including showing battery life, selecting ANC or transparency mode, editing touch controls, editing ANC/transparency performance 0 to 100% and pushing firmware updates out as well.
As for comfort, they are ever so comfortable and one of the most comfortable pairs of buds I’ve worn in a long time. The rubber is tip is standard like every other bud but the housing of the components is just a perfect fit for my ears. This doesn’t mean it will be a perfect fit for you but the shape and size, I think they will be a good fit for most.
We have touch controls with these and they do work well, maybe too well, as the ‘M’ on the bud is the touch-sensitive part, it’s quite large so when I was taking one bud out, it would sometimes pause the music which wasn’t ideal. I came to learn to take the bud out via the stem which meant I stayed away from the touch-sensitive area. Touch controls include taps, long holds etc and this allows you to control your content, turn ANC or transparency mode on/off or switch between the EQ profiles. There is no volume control via the touch controls.
Microphone quality, very good, I made a few calls with this and my voice came through clear on the other end, so no complaints here.
Battery life is stated at circa 26hours but that is a best-case scenario, with ANC off and up to 6 hours within the buds themselves. Realistically, more like 4 hours in the buds, 18 or so in the case, which I think is acceptable but others do offer more. QI enabled case, so wireless charging is possible.
Any downsides, If I was being really picky, the lid of the case, although magnetic, the hinge at the back is loose, it moves and can make a noise.
Overall, I’m very impressed with the Marshall Motif ANC. They look fantastic, they’re ever so comfortable and the audio performance is good, good enough to warrant the price which is currently set at £179.99 at the time of writing. With the AirPods 3 at £169.99, what’s the difference and which are better? It’s tough and I’ll likely follow up with a thorough comparison but it’s close, both have their pros and cons.
For more info and to purchase, head over to the official Marshall Motif webpage.