Review: Marshall Monitor

Marshall | Over-Ear Headphones | $200.00[IMG]

When Marshall first entered the headphone business, it didn’t come with the bang that they wanted. Lately, though, they have stepped up their game. The Major 50th Anniversary Edition proved to be the first of their better models. Like Skullcandy, Marshall obtained a new engineer to tune their headphones. It’s been almost two years, and Marshall has finally released their first set of over-ear headphones, the Monitor. It’s a big progressive step forward for Marshall overall. 

Specifications

  • Driver: 40mm Dynamic
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz – 20kHz
  • Impedance: 42 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 99 dB / 100mV

In the Box

  • Marshall Monitor Headphones
  • Coiled Cable (with remote and mic)
  • Carrying Pouch
  • Pair of FTF filters (pre-installed)
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Design

Unlike their earlier headphones which looked like parts of their amps, the new Monitors actually look like a classic monitoring headphone, with a Marshall twist that is. It still has that Marshall brand name front and center in white and beautiful brass accents while the textured leather gives the headphones a classic Marshall feel. Coiled cables all around remind you that these are designed by the amp company we all know and love.

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Design: ★★★★

Audio

Marshall uses what they call the FTF system to allow users to fine-tune the treble by using the concept of dampers to create acoustic attenuation. Basically, with the FTF filters in place, Marshall claims that the highs starting around 1.5-2kHz is reduced. This attenuation is confirmed in my subjective findings.

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With the new Monitor, Marshall employs a signature that is almost entirely smooth in nature. There is a small mid-to-low-bass boost combined with a lush, intimate midrange and soft highs. The FTF system gives a tiny boost to the bass and tames the highs further turning the smooth signature into a bass-focused, warm one.

The bass with, or without the filters, is the main focus of the signature. With the filters removed, the bass is a lot more relaxed and sounds more linear as a whole. It has good depth which allows for good texturing that produces a good solid, thick nature, but can also get the subtle parts as well. Impacts aren’t overpowering or boomy, but do give an ample slam behind each punch. The punches actually do come up nice and strong with decent tightness to it; it isn’t the tightest though. With the FTF system installed, the reduction in treble allows the lower-sub-bass to come through a little stronger and gives a more solid presentation for the bass.

The midrange changes a little more with the FTF system whereas the bass didn’t change quite as much. Without the FTF system, the midrange offers that hint of sweetness in the vocals to give them a little energy and power; this is especially useful for female vocals. Lushness is still present and the main strength of the vocals the Monitor produces. With the FTF filters, the vocals take a turn towards the lusher side of things and become very intimate. Detailing takes a small step back regardless of whether the FTF system is in place. The smooth nature of the headphones kind of impacts this as well. The details are still mostly there though while clarity seems to not be impacted as much without the FTF system. With it, it does take a small step back.

The treble is actually quite relaxed as a whole. The FTF system seems to take a bit of the energy that the treble gives as well as steal away quite a bit of the detailing these drivers provide as well as presence. Without it, the treble does come alive to ample levels. They do seem to roll off a little earlier than I’d like and the upper treble can be a little sibilant to people who are sensitive to that area. Otherwise, they are well detailed with ample presence and energy. Separation is actually pretty good as well. The lower treble offers a strong punch and presence, but does fall behind in terms of detailing and extension.

Audio: ★★★★½

Build

Marshall includes a heavy-duty pouch to carry the Monitor while it’s not in use. The pouch is strong for a pouch and will keep your headphones protected while not in use. Although it’s not 100% needed to keep the headphones safe, it’s a nice add. It’s basically the same material as the pouch that comes with the Majors and has the Marshall name embossed onto it.

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The housings on the Monitor are very well built despite the main housing being made of plastic, a thick plastic. The housings seem very well built and the plastic very strong. The jacks for audio input on either side is also recessed. Matted, metal forks hold the housings to the headband and are securely fastened into place with metal hinges. The housings are very well built.

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The forks connect to the headband which also seems to have a metal skeleton (can’t be 100% certain as I didn’t cut through the headband to find out for sure). The headband is covered in a thick, stitched leather that gives you a classic vibe. Foam is also filled to give the headband good thickness.

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Marshall uses a very nice cable with the Monitor that is removable with ample thickness. It doesn’t tangle easily, or at all during my testing, and is coiled which giving it another Marshall vibe. The cable feels very firm and strong so the cable itself won’t snap.

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The headphone jacks on either end is brass like the accents on the headphones. They are textured very beautifully and definitely a strength for the headphones. This type of jack has been used by Marshall in all of their headphones. It’s a straight jack, which is still a downer as I’d rather have an angled one (I honestly don’t know how an angled jack would work with this design though). One end has a spring strain relief while the other is a standard rubber one. Gold plating allows the jack to resist corrosion.

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Build: ★★★★½

Comfort

With the Majors, the thinner, square pads were problematic for me which essentially took quite a bit away from comfort. The Monitor uses a more standard round, over-ear design with thick pads that utilize soft foam. Additionally, the headband also uses this same plush foam as well making the headphones a joy to use for hours on end without discomfort. The Majors may not have been the most comfortable, but the Monitor nailed it in terms of comfort.

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Comfort: ★★★★

Value

The Monitor come priced at 200 dollars flat. I have to say, I was impressed with their sound and the fact that they are tunable does help a bit. Are they an absolute steal? Unfortunately not as many smaller companies seem to be taking those crowns. They are priced well and will be able to compete with some larger companies’ offerings. Their classic Marshall design and comfort are real sellers. A remote and mic is included as well.

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Marshall also does use another feature that’s become quite popular lately with headphones. You are able to daisy change headphones using the unused input jack of the headphones; the Monitor has two jacks, and one connects to the device. By daisy chaining headphones, it allows you to share music with others quite conveniently.

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Value: ★★★★½

Final Thoughts

The Monitor is Marshall’s current flagship and their first over-ear headphone. The design screams classic while the build is up to snuff. The comfort is probably one of the best I’ve seen. The consumer-friendly sound that can be tuned using their FTF system is great overall. The Monitor is a headphone I can see myself recommending and are fun to use to just rock out.

I’d like to thank Valerie for the product sample.

Overall Score

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Marshall Monitor

† All prices are in US currency.
This review was written by the iFans.com Review Team. Cumulative scores are rounded to the nearest half or full star.
This accessory, product, or app was received as a sample. Thanks Valerie for the product sample.
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