The Marshall Minor IIs look and sound great, but they aren’t very comfortable to wear for long periods.
Brilliant sound quality
Long battery life
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The original Marshall Minor bluetooth headphones were relatively well received, but Marshall wants to usher in a new era of in-ears headphones with the Marshall Minor II.
With a ton of updates that bring the headphones up to date, the heritage rock brand has kitted them out with Bluetooth aptX, an improved fit, and a longer battery life, while still maintaining Marshall’s classic roadworthy look, complete with brass accents, grille-style patterns, and rugged rubberized materials.
Price and availability
The Minor IIs are available to buy now from the Marshall website for $129 (around £120 / AU$180), which is almost triple the price of the originals, and represents the higher end of the spectrum.
Still, with all the new features Marshall says it has included in the new headphones, they may well be worth the price.
The Marshall Minor IIs retain the heritage rock company’s distinct aesthetic. With rugged hardware and signature gold accents, the new in-ears are similar to their predecessors, but with some key design differences.
They look and feel extremely well made, and the earbuds themselves have some definite heft to them, which does make us wonder about how comfortable they will be to wear for long period of time.
The Minor IIs certainly look the part as well, and we like the combination of a matte rubberized finish with the subtle shine of the brass accents on the outer casing of the earbuds and inline remote. This union could be in danger of looking overly brash, but the subdued shade of gold ensures this isn’t the case. Overall, they look really stylish.
On to the earbuds: Marshall says they have been designed with comfort in mind, with an ergonomic fit, which should stay in place all day while resting lightly against the ear canal.
One cool design feature is the adjustable loop on each earbud, which is simply formed by the cable being fed through the casing - the loop fits in the conch of your ear, helping the Minor IIs to stay put when you’re on the move.
Continuing the rock theme, Marshall has included an amp grille-like pattern on the sides of the inline remote, which features the distinctive Marshall script in white, a brass control knob, and a USB port for charging.
Directly below the USB port is a seriously tiny LED light that indicates when the headphones are charging, your music is on pause, and more - we like how unobtrusive the LED is, but it did take us a long time to locate it to ensure the headphones were charging.
Features and performance
Perhaps the biggest update Marshall has made to the Minor II headphones is that they now support Bluetooth aptX, which should give music a ‘CD-like’ level of quality. To turn the headphones on, you just have to hold down the control knob on the inline remote, after which you should hear a distorted guitar riff that tells you Bluetooth has been switched on - a nice touch that you can find across the Marshall headphone and speakers range.
To further improve audio quality, Marshall used “custom-tuned 14.2 mm drivers”. As a rock brand, it felt fitting that we should test the Minor IIs on some high energy punk, so we listened to Bikini Kill’s ‘Rebel Girl’, and found the percussion was crisp, vocals were clear, and the electric guitars were punchy and powerful.
We also wanted to try music with a wider range of frequencies and timbres, so we had a listen to ‘A Day In The Life’ from The Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, and we were really impressed with the depth and clarity of the bass guitar, as well as the warmth of the brass sections.
So we know the Marshall Minor IIs are great for rock music, but can they work for hip hop too? Well, we tested them out on Nicki Minaj’s ‘Barbie Dreams’ and the answer is yes - although top-end treble clicks and claps can sound a little harsh.
In terms of power, the Minor IIs pack an awful lot of audio punch for their size - bear in mind though, if you like blasting your music you may find that Marshall’s claim of 12 hour playback on a single charge is reduced.
These aren’t the kind of headphones that you can just put in and go - the earbuds are quite large and we found we had to stretch our ears with one hand while putting them in with the other to get a secure fit.
Once in, they didn’t feel particularly comfortable, with the buds feeling quite hard and unyielding against our ears - there are just too many hard edges and unrelenting materials to wear these for very long. We can’t help but feel that Marshall missed a trick in not using the softer rubberized material on the entire earbud.
Considering how good the sound quality is, and how stylish they look, it’s a crying shame that the Marshall Minor IIs are so uncomfortable - even wearing them for 30 minutes gave us pain in our jaw and temples, and they left our ears feeling really tender and sore. Not exactly what you would expect for the price tag.
That being said, if your ears are (ahem) on the larger side, you may find the in-ears really comfortable, but as the casing size can’t be altered and Marshall don't provide any other sized ear tips in the box, they’re not going to work for everyone.
Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.