Marshall Motif ANC II review

Bold and beautiful

₹ 19,999

Without a doubt, Marshall knows how to make audio gear look audaciously stunning. Be it the guitar amps or in this case ANC buds. They exude a retro rockstar charm befitting the 70s hard rock era. What’s improved over the previous version is call quality, touch controls and of course the ANC along with a longer lasting battery life at least that’s what Marshall claims.

Marshall Motif ANC II review: Design and Build

Admit it, if you’re thinking of getting these, a big part of the deciding factor is the looks! The overall package of the Marshall Motif II looks stunning right from the faux leather clad case that borrows its design cues from the Bluetooth speaker lineup of Marshall to the buds themselves. The knurled finish on the stems, the gold-plated caps at the bottom and the big ‘M’ logo in the signature Marshall font  all shout premium. 

You get an IPX5 rating on the buds and the case comes with an IPX4 rating, which is just okay. There’s a simple button on the case that lets you know the amount of juice left in there through a tiny light and if you long press it, it goes into pairing mode. It’s stylish but super simple. The angular designed buds fit snug in your ear and sit comfortably during long walks or a light gym session. They aren’t going to stay in there if you plan on playing football or anything of the sort. 

You get a selection of eartips as usual included in the box which further helps the comfort factor.

Marshall Motif ANC II review: Features

We are usually not big sticklers for codecs, but at this price it is a factor. The Motif II come with SBC and AAC support with Bluetooth LE and LC3. The latter hasn’t yet caught on and what we would have rather loved would be the inclusion of LDAC and aptX. There’s no spatial sound upscaling tech included here either for those who like that kind of application to their music. 

You get standard touch controls on the buds that you can customise in a limited way via the app. The thing is, unlike others, even a slight adjustment you make to the buds when they are in your ear triggers the touch, so you end up fiddling with the stem instead and the whole thing becomes a bit of an ordeal. It’s a strange problem to have, but after using it for a while it becomes a bug bear. 

The accompanying Marshall app does a brilliant job of displaying the basics and the ANC settings, making everything accessible without the need to poke around a lot. Marshall has included a five-band equalizer as well with presets and the option to have your settings tuned in. Touch controls can also be minimized and turned off completely including the in-ear detection setting.

Marshall Motif ANC II review: Sound Quality

The first thing to hit you is the way the Motifs handle ANC. It surely makes its presence felt when indoors, but go outside and you soon realize how feeble it is. The Marshalls can’t keep up with the piercing noise of Mumbai city even while sat in a cab with windows rolled up. Higher frequency notes filter in quite easily while the Motifs handle others just okay. In fact, our resident Ikodoo Buds One does a much better job at filtering out noise. 

Moving on to some Led Zeppelin, it’s apparent that Marshall knows what they are doing. Apart from chalking out a brilliant soundstage, what impresses the most is the clear articulate mid range. Plant’s piercing voice is conveyed with superb verve and energy and Page’s guitar screams through wanting to be heard! What was slightly disappointing was the lack of oomph in the otherwise mesmerizing drums.

While there’s enough definition on offer, the Marshall don’t go above and beyond to deliver that extra kick in the lower frequencies. Even if you tweak the EQ, it’s difficult to get the Motifs grunting in the lower end. So if you’re looking for some heavy hitters in the lower end, these might not get your head banging. It’s a more mature, concise experience that’s way more nuanced than it portrays without getting overly analytical like the Jabra Elite 4 for example.

Marshall Motif ANC II review: Verdict

You’re not going to buy this for the ANC. You’re buying this for the audacious looks, forward and energetic sound signature that is nuanced and the bragging rights that come with owning something from an iconic brand. Add to that the incredible 30 hour of total battery life with 6 hours of ANC play per charge and it’s a pretty rockin’ deal.

Stuff Says

Forward and energetic sound that’s nuanced but the ANC could be better
Good stuff
Bad stuff
  1. Nice Soundstage

  1. Energetic Sound

  1. Nuanced delivery

  1. ANC is okay