(Pocket-lint) - English amplifier extraordinaire Marshall is back with another pair of headphones: the Major III Bluetooth. As the name suggests, these cans are the third-generation in the largely successful Major headphones lineup.
As standard with Major there are Bluetooth (as tested) and non-Bluetooth versions. With many mobile devices ditching the 3.5mm headphone port, it's likely Bluetooth that you're going to want for your tunes.
We've spent some serious listening time with the Major III Bluetooth to see if they deserve to sit pride of place on your head.
Amplifier design on your ears
- 3.5mm headphones jack
- Single control knob
- On-ear design
At first glance, the Major III Bluetooth don't look too dissimilar to their predecessor, featuring the same square on-ear earcups complete with iconic white Marshall lettering that's reminiscent of the company's amplifiers.
However, there have been some changes to the overall aesthetic: the ear pads now feature a textured faux-leather finish, which we feel looks more premium compared to the vinyl covering on the previous model.
Marshall has also given the gold control knob on the left earcup the ability to power the headphones on and off. Previously, power was handled by a separate button, but by putting it into the one single button gives the Major III Bluetooth a much cleaner look. This control can also skip tracks, adjust volume and answer/reject calls.
Removing the dedicated power button means there is just a Micro-USB charging port (not USB-C, sadly) and 3.5mm headphone port for either listening to the headphones in passive mode or for friends to connect their own wired headphones so you can share music.
We like the overall build quality of the Major III. Sturdy and impeccably finished, these on-ears can comfortably survive being thrown in and out of bags without a case - which is handy, since Marshall doesn't supply one.
The initial fit on the head may be a little snug for some, but the Major does ease up a little over time. We like a snug fit, though, as it helps to keep them fixed in place and block out external sounds too. There's no active noise-cancelling (ANC) to be found here, which Marshall saves for other headphones in its line-up.
Versatile sound with no drop-outs
- aptX streaming with compatible devices
- 40mm dynamic drivers
- 30+ hours of battery life
Speaking of battery life, Marshall claims the Major III can keep on rocking for 30 hours or more. We're certainly inclined to believe that, as we've listened to them for well into double-digit hours and they've only dipped to 80 per cent battery.
Being a Bluetooth headphone, you'll be pleased to know that we experienced no drop outs in connection at all, too. Which is a good thing, because you'll want to keep listening to these headphones for hours on end.
The Marshall deliver a brilliantly balanced sound. We opted for the live version of Fleetwood Mac's I'm So Afraid as a starting point, and we felt every drum beat, guitar string and emotion in Lindsey Buckingham's vocal. It gave us goosebumps. Change to something a little more upbeat, like AC/DC, and once again the Marshall delivers a clear, detailed sound with no one frequency range overpowering the other.
Despite the company's rock heritage, these cans suit a wide range of genres, so you're not reserved to listening to just rock or metal. MK's 17, an Ibiza dance tune if ever there was one, is one example that showed off how much enthusiasm these cans offer.
We could go on talking about how good various songs sound through the Major III Bluetooth, but we'd run out of words of praise.
If you can't already tell, we love the Marshall Major III Bluetooth headphones. These cans look fantastic, have a durable build quality, and sound superb whatever your musical genre of choice.
Although there aren't some fancier features, such as active noise-cancelling, the Major III benefit by offering exceptional battery life - which is among the best we've come across in a pair of headphones.
For the price, we can't think of many other pairs of headphones that can compete. If only there was a carry case included.
Alternatives to consider
Marshall Mid ANC
If you're a frequent traveller and you need noise-cancellation to block out external sounds, but you still want the classic rock style, the Marshall Mid ANC could be right up your (electric) avenue. Battery life isn't as impressive as the Major III though.
For a simple, fuss-free pair of over-ear wireless headphones look no further than the Panasonic RP-HTX80. These don't have quite the same premium build quality as the Major III BT, but their retro looks and fantastic sound performance are an obvious draw.