Review: Marshall’s Major V Me Made Rethink On-Ear Headphones

Compact and cool, the new retro-styled headset offers wireless charging and 100+ hours of playtime

June 6, 2024 11:08 am
Marshall Major V
The Marshall Major V Headphones are durable, lightweight and almost never need charging

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It’s rare at this point for me to get excited by advancements in headphones. A good pair in 2024 will most likely offer incremental improvements in sound, comfort or aesthetics.

Marshall’s latest on-ear cans, the Major V, feature two attributes that elicited a “wow” from me. The first is the promise of 100+ hours of playtime per charge. And the second? Wireless charging, a rarity for any audio device outside of earbuds.

I tested both the Major V and the Minor IV earbuds for a few weeks. I’ll concentrate more on the former, as this was the first pair of on-ear (as opposed to over-ear) headphones I’ve enjoyed. Due to some personal audio preferences, I have less to say about the Minor IV.

First, why on-ear headphones?

My worries about on-ear headphones stemmed from my environment; I was worried the smaller design would leak sound more readily, and I tend to use headphones in an office. 

Thankfully, this didn’t happen with the Major V, which I’ll touch on soon. But generally, on-ear headsets are lighter, more compact and cooler (temperature-wise) for extended usage. 

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The specs:

  • Foldable design
  • Customizable M-control button with Spotify Tap 
  • Wireless charging
  • Bluetooth LE audio-ready
  • 100+ hours of playtime 
  • Customizable sound/EQ settings via the Marshall app
  • Voice assistant

What works:

Aesthetically, you’re getting the classic Marshall style that matches the brand’s iconic amps. The headphones are lightweight and more comfortable than most over-ear sets. The sound bleed was negligible except at the highest volumes. Set-up and use of the multidirectional control knob was easy and intuitive. I got nowhere near the 100+ hour mark, but I never had to recharge the headphones even after a few weeks. And yes, these do wirelessly recharge but keep in mind they take up a lot more space than your typical wireless earbuds (here, you’ll rest the right earcup on a flat charging surface). 

What needs work:

The lack of noise cancellation may be a deal breaker for some people (it’s perfectly fine in an office, however). The Marshall and MiD Reductions presets on the app were far more balanced and crisp than the other EQ settings. While cooler than an over-ear set, the Major V still felt warm and sweaty after about an hour of use. The sound was fine when I paired the headphones with my laptop, but you lose access to the app (meaning, your sound profile is limited to basically louder or softer). 

Marshall Minor IV
Sure, they look cool, but the lack of ANC on the Marshall Minor IV earbuds is a deal-breaker

A quick word about the Marshall Minor IV

I also spent a week using the Minor IV earbuds, which offer the same cool vintage aesthetics as other Marshall audio gear but also frustrate in many ways. The lack of ANC was most apparent when I was in the subway, where even on the loudest volumes I could barely hear music or podcasts. The buds (and their stems) are touch-sensitive as opposed to tactile, so I was constantly and unintentionally adjusting the sound every time I took the buds out. While they never fell out, the MInor IV earbuds did feel loose in my ear (admittedly, as would AirPods or other similarly styled ear sets). Overall, even with a cool look and great battery life (30+ hours) I can’t recommend these unless you’re particularly a fan of this type of stemmed earbuds. Marshall does make an ANC pair that both fits and sounds better; start there.

What others are saying

“3.5/5. Marshall’s Major V headphones are somewhat light on features, but they offer engaging sound and extensive battery life in the company’s signature retro style.” — PC Mag

“If it were me spending my $149 and I needed to buy a new pair of headphones, I would buy the Marshall Major Vs. I travel and work remotely a lot and I prioritize size, durability, comfort, and battery life.” — Tom’s Guide

“If you’re after a single pair of cans that can serenade you at home and block ambient noise on planes, trains, and while working out and about, then these just aren’t going to be for you. But if ANC isn’t high up on your list of necessary features, there’s a lot to like.” — 9to5 Toys

Overall thoughts on the Major V

The Marshall Major V headphones are a modestly budgeted, cool retro-looking alternative to the $300-$400 headsets dominating the premium end of the market. The lack of noise cancellation is rough, but only if you plan to use these outdoors or on long flights (or loud subways). As a desk headset, they offer a nice mix of form, function and punchy sound.

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