While there’s no doubt that Apple’s AirPods are insanely popular, and are some of the best true wireless in-ear headphones ever made, they’re far from the only game in town, especially since many users have different tastes and preferences for both the sound signature and style that they want from their headphones, not to mention the type.
Venerable music company Marshall has just announced its new Marshall Monitor II A.N.C., a new noise-cancelling version of its classic Monitor over-ear headphones, and a follow-up to its 2018 Mid A.N.C. on-ears — the first Marshall headphones to offer active noise cancellation, and ones that we still remain fans of to this day.
Marshall’s Monitor II A.N.C. are intended to maintain the sound signature that Marshall’s original Monitor over-ears are known for, while adding advanced active noise cancellation technology to deliver even better sound quality at all volumes.
While these naturally don’t include Apple’s patented and proprietary H1 chip, meaning you won’t get some of the tight iPhone integration that AirPods and Beats wireless headphones provide, such “Hey Siri” support, they’re expected to provide more balanced sound and noise cancellation than the traditionally bass-heavy Beats, which have a sound signature that doesn’t at all play well with many genres of music.
As the “Monitor” name implies, Marshall’s Monitor II A.N.C. follows in the footsteps of its original Monitor and Monitor Black predecessors, offering a neutral sound that works well with a wide variety of genres, so we expect that it will offer especially nice and lush mids that will be great with the kind of classic and progressive rock that sort of defines the iconic Marshall brand, and with the addition of active noise cancellation, these will likely offer a laid-back and less fatiguing sound that should make them suitable for much longer listening sessions.
If Marshall’s implementation of noise cancelling on its Mid A.N.C.’s are any indication, we expect that the new Monitor II A.N.C. will likely also offer more subtle noise cancellation than some rivals like Sony or Bose; since the Monitor A.N.C. don’t offer any kind of “transparency mode” like the AirPods Pro, Marshall wants to make sure you’re still aware enough of your surroundings while you’re out and about in the world.
For those who are serious about their music listening, getting good and accurate sound for their favourite music is naturally going to be much more important than features like “Hey Siri” or audio sharing, and on-ear and over-ear headphones also deliver the kind of listening experience that it’s very hard for even the best wireless earbuds like the AirPods Pro to fully match.
In fact, if the rumours are true, this may be the real reason why Apple is working on its own over-ear headphones, separate from the Beats branding. Apple’s AirPods — especially the AirPods Pro — actually provide more balanced sound than the Beats, but the latter brand has a pretty strong following, and Apple is likely reluctant to mess with that kind of success. Although Apple brought the H1 chip to its Beats Solo Pro on-ear headphones last fall — along with introducing ANC to them for the first time, it has yet to update its over-ear Studio Wireless with the same features, so in many ways the Beats brand has been plodding along like the step-sibling that it is to Apple’s considerably more popular AirPods.