Marshall Major II

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published: Dec-8-2018

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NO SMOOTHING is applied to the shown plots. Most measurement sites have some smoothing applied which ‘irons flat’ sharp peaks and ‘wiggles’. I do not use smoothing because some info about sound quality is lost when plots are smoothed.

Aside from a small correction of the microphone itself also some correction in the lowest frequencies is applied to the plots to compensate for the perceived loss of bass when using headphones. This is described HERE in more detail.
A ‘horizontal‘ frequency response curve on the shown frequency response plots on this website thus indicates a perceived ‘flat’ tonal signature.

ALL measurements are made with a good SEAL on a flatbed measurement rig.
The shape of your head, bone structure, pad size, pad ‘softness,  (compliance), hair or no hair and or wearing glasses may (drastically) change the frequency response of some headphones, so… your personal experience may differ substantially from these plots.

Frequency response (tonal balance) is the most sound-determining aspect of headphones. A horizontal line shows audible neutral response in the plots on this website. Deviations in different severities at different frequency bands have an effect on the sound character.
The bigger the deviation the stronger the effect.

Below an aid to help determining the sound character of headphones with relation to the frequency response.


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Marshall Major II Bluetooth


The Marshall Major II exists in 2 versions. The wired version and the Bluetooth version. Both have similar drivers. This review is of the BT version but only used/measured wired, not via a BT connection.
The Bluetooth connection is tested and works well, but is not measured.
There is a newer version already, the Marshall Major III, which has a ‘better’ driver and different ear pads.
The Marshall Major II with Bluetooth funtionality used to retail baround €99.-
The wired version was cheaper and around €59.-

One can choose between 3 colour options: Black, Brown, and White.

This is a closed on-ear headphone. The clamping force is a bit on the high side to ensure it stays on the ears. After an hour or so the pressure became uncomfortable.
Not recommended for longer listening sessions but fine for commuting.

The headband and earpads are pleather (PVC based fake-leather) and feel soft and comfortable. After a few years of usage the pads will most likely degrade and fall apart.
The headphone cups can fold in the headband for easy transport.

MM2 folded
The cable entry is on the left cup. Most single entry headphones have their cable on the left. Something to watch for when having more than one headphone. There are clear Left and Right markings on the headband just above the earcups.

In the right ear cup there is a power button, a micro-USB charging port and a 3.5mm TRS socket for usage with the supplied coiled cable, there is also a small indicator light.
In the right cup there is also a small microphone for taking calls in Bluetooth mode.
Marshall claims 30 hours of BT usage after 6 hours of charging. When the battery is depleted you can use it in ‘passive’ mode with a 3.5mm TRS cord.
It supports Bluetooth v4.0 aptX and therefore can reach a fairly high sound quality via BT.
The BT range is specified as 10meter (did not check) but usually the connected phone is not further away than 1m anyway.

On the left cup there is a copper button on the rear bottom side which has a few functions when using Bluetooth. The button can be pushed up, down, sideways and inwards for various functions.

The cable is coiled and has a microphone + one button remote in it and terminates in an angled  3.5mm TRRS plug. There is ‘microphony’ in the cable so the wire touching clothes or being handled is audible in the right cup. It isn’t annoyingly loud while playing music but certainly audible in quiet passages.

The headphone has classic and typical ‘Marshall’ looks and seems to be quite sturdy. The ear cups swivel freely in all directions and adjustability of the headband height and width are good. It does not look nor feel cheap.

Isolation is not that great, certainly not for an on-ear closed headphone.


Type: On-ear, closed
Usage: Home, Portable
Isolation: mediocre, -13dBA
Driver type: dynamic
Pads: replaceable, pleather (faux leather)
Pad dimensions: 60 x 60mm (square) with a 22 x 22mm cutout in the middle
Collapsible: yes
Headphone connector: 3.5mm TRS jack
Cable entry: right sided.
Cable: 1.2m partly coiled cable terminated in 3.5mm TRRS + mic & 1-button remote.
Driver size: ø 40mm
Nom. power rating (estimated): 0.05W (50mW)
Max. voltage: 2.5V
Max. current: 30mA
Max. S.P.L.: 116dB
Impedance: 84 Ω
Efficiency: 98dB/1mW (108dB/1V)
Weight: 202 g.
Colour options: black, brown, white
Clamping force: medium/high
Accessories: coiled 3.5mm cable with mic and single-button remote, USB charging cable, instruction manual

Sound description:

The Marshall Major II can be characterized as a ‘dark’ headphone. Bass is elevated and somewhat ‘fat’ but not bloated. Mids have a warm/full bodied tilt to it and are not ‘neutral’. The mids lack clarity/presence and are not very dynamic.
The treble is subdued and lacks subtleties and details.  There is no hint of sharpness or brightness anywhere but also no finer details, finesse/nuances nor ‘air’. It is a bit dull in the top part of the frequency range.
Perhaps well suited for listening to low quality (sharp) rock and pop music. Far from ideal for those looking for a dynamic and clear sound with fresh sounding cymbals.


Below the frequency response of the Major II (Left, Right)

FR Marshall Major 2

Bass extension is excellent. Some emphasis around 100Hz (‘fat’ sound). The mids are decent in quality.
The mids have a small peak around 1.5kHz which can make some instruments sound a bit ‘tinny’ or ‘hollow’. The effect is small though. Above 7kHz the response drops quickly.
This drop and the -5dB treble ‘peak’ make this headphone sound not that well-extended and lacking treble a bit.
Bass and mids sound decent with an emphasis on the lows.
The treble quality is not great due to the dip around 9kHz and lower ‘peak’ till 16khz.
Above 16kHz there is a pretty steep drop-off.


As the seal of this headphone is of importance some experiments showing the effect.
(lots of) hair between the headphone and ear or an ear shape that does not allow a proper seal will affect the tonal balance.
Below: Perfect seal, a small seal breach and a bigger seal breach.


A small seal breach isn’t really problematic. In fact it is even welcome and makes the headphone a bit ‘clearer’ sounding.

output resistance / damping-factor

As this is a dynamic headphone the frequency response might be amplifier output resistance dependent when certain higher output resistance amplifiers are used.
To test this the headphone is measured via a low impedance amplifier (0.2Ω) and a high impedance amplifier (120Ω).
On a higher output resistance amplifier the output level will be considerably lower. To compensate for this the amplifier is cranked up to the same level (17dB at 1kHz) as the low impedance amplifier. This way the plots are overlay-ed and it is easier to show the tonal balance differences.120 R (7.8dB)The headphone does not react to higher output resistances. There is hardly any difference at all, aside from the obvious 7.8dB level difference which is compensated in this plot to better show tonal balance differences.
The output resistance of the used source/amplifier has NO influence of the sound.

Below the distortion measurements of the Major II (Left channel)Dist L 90dBBelow the same distortion plot but with the vertical scale in percentages instead of level differences. Dist percent L 90dBThe 3rd harmonic distortion around 60Hz is reaching 1.5% and is indicative of ‘clipping’ allike non-linear behaviour. From 120Hz up the distortion is well below 0.1%.
Higher distortion levels at lower frequencies are not really that audible as such so everything below 1% is good. 2nd harmonic distortion in the lows is at a decent level.
It stays below 1% and above 100Hz below 0.5%.
The 2nd harmonic distortion is probably lower than shown as limits of the test rig are around 0.15%.
Below the distortion plot but taken at 80dB SPL. around 1kHz where the plots above are taken at the usual 90dB SPL @ 1kHz.Dist percent L 80dB
The reason this plot is posted is to show that distortion levels drop considerably at more ‘normal’ listening levels.
The 3rd harmonic distortion around 60Hz is below 0.5%. This improvement points towards the max. power rating of this driver. Most likely it is around 50mW or possibly even lower. Being a battery powered BT headphone it cannot provide much power in BT mode anyway.
Higher distortion levels at lower frequencies are not really that audible as such so everything below 1% is good. 2nd harmonic distortion in the lows is at a decent level.
It stays below 0.3% and above 100Hz below 0.2%.

Below the CSD of the Major II. (Left and Right are superimposed)CSD MM2Aside from some lingering below 700Hz and a small resonance around 5.5kHz there aren’t any big negatives here. The treble roll-off is easy to see. No resonances there.

Below the spectrum plot of the Major II (Right channel). Around 1.2kHz and 1.8kHz there is some low level short lived ‘ringing’. At these levels (-40dB below the signal) they aren’t that audible. No real things to worry about here. The driver seems to be decently ‘damped’ for higher frequencies.spectr MM2 R

The step response plot below (Right Channel) shows the impulse response is not that great. The initial rise is quite slow. There is no ringing and no overshoot either. A bit too much damping in the higher frequencies. The lower level till 0.5ms also is an indication of the headphone lacking ‘clarity’ in the treble.
The slow rise to 1.5ms is an indicator of the ‘warm’ mids and bass.
Bass extension is excellent though which is shown by the horizontal line not dropping steep after 2ms.step R


The Marshall Major II is a nice looking and decently built on-ear headphone. After some time the pressure on the ears may not be pleasant.
For € 59.- for the wired version and € 99.- for the bluetooth version there isn’t much to complain about IF you like a darker sound with deep lows and subdued treble.
Works well during portable usage and with shrill pop and rock recordings.
Less so for well made recordings and genre’s like blues, Jazz and classical. It will sound muffled and overly warm/fat in this case.
The long battery life (around 30 hours) is a bonus and means it can be used a week or so while commuting without the need for a recharge in that period.

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