Marshall has shared the stage with some of rock’s heaviest acts, but despite its hardcore applications, its gear has always had a precise, organic sound. This heritage of grunt-meets-finesse distils into the Marshall Motif A.N.C earphones.
The Motifs are best on guitar-led music, with an excellent quality running across the mid-range (while doing no disservice to bass and highs). The overdriven guitar of The Murder City Devils’ “Press Gang” cuts through as I’ve never heard before. Older recordings are given new life, with Motorhead’s “I’ll Be Your Sister” sounding particularly incredible - Lemmy’s midrange basslines rip through with tonnes of energy being delivered well by the Motif.
Going a little heavier, Lamb Of God’s “Ruin” is a crushing barrage of sound, but it’s an accurate one free of murk -the guitars, bass and drums are all clearly discernible.
Like its amps, the Marshall Motif perform well in other genres. From dance-pop to jazz and acid house, it’s all excellent. There’s a mediocre app for EQ control, but the default setting is the most versatile.
The Marshall Motif earphones don’t add to music like some Bass Boosting rivals. Instead, the drivers do all they can to get out of the way. The result? They accurately deliver the music you love, loudly.
Verdict: Marshall has delivered a stylish, powerful, rock-ready earphone with the Motif that’s fine-tuned to deliver music without flaw.
|• Excellent sound quality||• Bad app|
|• Stylish lightweight design|
|• Good touch controls|
|Battery life:||4.5hrs with ANC, 6 without. Case: 20-hrs|
|Charge time:||1hr in 15 mins, 3hrs full|
|Weight:||4.25g. Case: 39.5g|
|Drivers:||6mm, Dynamic, 20Hz-20kHz|
This article was originally published on 09/11/21. We’ve checked back to update the links and change some formatting, so the date at the top of the page may not match up. The words and score of the original review remain unaltered.
What’s to love?
As stated above, the audio is without fault. Listening through a mix of genres you soon realise that the Motifs never miss a beat. The music of J Dilla and MF DOOM is given just as much respect as Herbie Hancock and John Coltrane - it’s all down to the organic balance of the Motif’s drivers. The performance on distorted guitar-led music is undoubtedly the highlight, though. It’s a real treat to encounter, as many mainstream earphones struggle with the dynamics of rock music.
Outside of the sound, the Motifs also have a killer style. The case has the all-important Marshall amp texture and a hardy build quality which is particularly noticeable on the hinge. It can be recharged from either USB-C or wirelessly, which is handy.
The earphones sport a machined-metal stem, which is great for grip, and monographed logo. The fit is light, secure and pleasant, with the earphones sitting close to the ear - they don’t protrude and look dorky. The touch controls are simple and limited, which is good for keeping the operation as smooth as possible.
The Motif A.N.C earphones carry a modest four-and-a-half-hour playtime with noise cancellation active - a little low for my liking, but this extends to six with ANC off. The 20-hours of extra juice carried by the case helps extend the life, too.
The most middling feature of the Motif is the Marshall app. Here, you can change touch controls, refine ANC and transparency modes and fiddle with some EQ. When it works it’s fine enough, but there are communication blips that frustrate and complicate matters. In my testing, I found that the Motifs are best when treated as a plug-and-play device - I trust most in Marshall’s default EQ tuning.
More items to consider
How the product was tested
I adopted the Marshall Motif into my daily schedule for two weeks. The earphones were in my ears on video calls and phone calls, and when listening to music via Spotify and Apple Music. They were also used for entertainment, such as streaming Netflix and YouTube, and when playing mobile games from Apple Arcade. The Motif earphones were synced with both my iPhone and MacBook Air.
William Lobley is a Deputy Commercial Content Editor and reviewer for WhatsTheBest, specialising in technology, gaming and the outdoors.
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