Marshall Mode II: small but strong

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With the release of the Marshall Mode II in-ear monitors, the legendary British manufacturer of guitar amplifiers is entering the True Wireless IEMs market. Priced at €179, these ultra-compact Bluetooth in-ear monitors feature a 6mm dynamic driver per ear and can be controlled via their touch interface and the dedicated Marshall app. Inheriting the brand’s unique aesthetic, can the Marshall Mode II also reproduce the iconic Marshall sound?

The Marshall Mode II IEMs are the first True Wireless models by Marshall and feature the British manufacturer’s classic design.

Packaging and accessories

The Marshall Mode II in-ear monitors come in a simple and compact box. Inside of this box is the charging case in which the IEMs are housed. Everything is stored in two simple cardboard holders to conserve space. Marshall goes straight to the point and doesn’t bother with fancy options just to fill the box. A choice that we can only applaud. The box contains the following:

  • a charging case
  • one pair of Marshall Mode IIs
  • four pairs of silicone tips (S, M, L, XL)
  • a USB-C cable for charging the case
  • a quick start guide
  • a leaflet with safety instructions
Marshall gets straight to the point with the Mode II IEMs and doesn’t try to fill the box with superfluous accessories.

Presentation

Ergonomics

The first thing we noticed when we picked up the Marshall Mode IIs was their small size and simple design. True Wireless in-ear monitors are often larger than wired IEMs, this difference in size is quite normal given the need to house more technology in the earbuds. However, the Marshall Mode IIs are ultra-compact and one of the most discreet True Wireless models on the market. 

Compared to the Sony WF-SP900 and Klipsch T5, the Marshall Mode II in-ear monitors are among the most compact models on the market.

The earbuds feature a simple matte black finish and are each adorned with the Marshall ‘M’ logo in white. The case adopts a similar design and is compact enough to be easily slipped into a pocket. It features a tolex-like finish that has become the brand’s signature, and the Marshall logo on top. At just 4.75 grams per earbud and 35 grams for the case, the Marshall Mode IIs are clearly all about comfort and listening on the go. 

Thanks to their ultra-compact design and light weight, the Marshall Mode II fit easily in the ear.

Once you’ve chosen the right tips, the earbuds sit comfortably in the ear and are quickly forgotten. 

Design

The Marshall Mode II IEMs each feature a 6mm diameter dynamic driver. The claimed frequency response is 20 Hz to 20 kHz and the sound pressure level is 100.5 dB. The earphones are IPX5 certified (water resistant) and can be used for workouts both indoors and outdoors. The case is IPX4 certified (splashproof). A dual omni-directional microphone system allows the use of the voice assistant integrated in the paired device. It is also used for hands-free phone calls and by the transparency mode. Despite the presence of microphones, there is no active noise canceling mode. A function that is offered by the Jabra Elite 75t in the same price range. Once the right tips have been chosen, the passive isolation does its job very well. The Marshall Mode II IEMs can be controlled via their touch interface or the dedicated Marshall app available for Android and iOS. These True Wireless in-ear monitors are compatible with both SBC and aptX codecs, so you can enjoy quality wireless transmission. 

The Marshall Mode II True Wireless IEMs immediately catch the eye with their compact size and unique design.

The Marshall Mode IIs have a battery life of 5 hours and the case allows 4 recharges when fully charged. That’s a total of 25 hours of battery life, which means you can easily use these IEMs during long trips.

The charging case of the Marshall Mode II provides up to 20 hours of extra battery life and easily fits in your pocket.

Key specs

Design

  • Type: closed
  • Coupling: in-ear
  • 6mm dynamic transducer
  • Frequency response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz
  • Transducer impedance: 16 ohms
  • SPL: 100.5 dB
  • Transparency mode
  • IPX5 certified headphones
  • IPX4 certified case
  • Marshall Bluetooth app for iOS and Android
  • Compatible with Siri, Google Now and Alexa vocal assistants

Bluetooth

  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • Codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX
  • Frequency range: 2,4 Hz
  • Transmission distance: approx. 10m

Microphone

  • Frequency response: 100 – 7,500Hz
  • Captation: omnidirectionnal
  • Sensitivity : -20 dBV/Pa

Batterie

  • Battery life : 5 hours + 20 hours (with case)
  • Charging time : 2h 

General

  • Weight of earphones: 4.75g
  • Case weight: 35g

Accessories

  • Charging case
  • USB-C charging cable
  • 4 pairs of silicone tips (S, M, L, XL)
  • Quick start guide
  • Safety guide

Testing conditions 

For this test, we paired the Marshall Mode II IEMs with an Android smartphone to listen to songs stored in the phone’s memory and via Qobuz. Pairing the Marshall Mode IIs with our smartphone was extremely quick and easy. We just had to leave the earbuds in their case and press the pairing button. The Marshall Mode IIs appeared directly in the list of available devices and pairing was done in seconds..

The Marshall Mode II IEMs are made for modern recordings.

The Marshall Mode II in-ear monitors are extremely comfortable to wear. Their small size and light weight allow them to fit in the ear and be quickly forgotten. However, we did experience Bluetooth disconnections on several occasions, as well as automatic pausing. This is not a major inconvenience for everyday listening, but it can be frustrating, especially when you’re working out or cooking. The touch interface allows you to resume or pause playback with a simple press of the right earbud. It is also possible to change tracks, answer or reject a call, and activate the transparency mode and the native voice assistant of the paired smartphone using the touch interface. We found the interface to be overly sensitive and quite impractical, so we preferred to manage everything from the source.

The Marshall Mode II earphones are great companions for a workout session. Their IPX5 certification combined with their compact design, passive isolation and power allow them to stay in place during long sessions and effectively cover the noise of a machine for example.

Listening impressions

We started our listening session with the built-in EQ on “Marshall” mode, i.e. the natural signature of the earphones, before testing each EQ available in the application. We were pleasantly surprised by the different EQ curves that really allow the user to adjust the sound signature to suit their preferences, rather than just slightly emphasizing a specific frequency range. This is a really good point for these True Wireless in-ear monitors, as they show great versatility. 

The Marshall Mode IIs offer a powerful, bass-rich sound with a forward lower-midrange. This is a signature sound found in many modern headphones and IEMs, including those from Marshall. The high frequencies and the upper midrange are not completely drowned out, but we can notice an undeniable accentuation of the low frequencies which can sometimes cause an imbalance, as well as high frequencies which can be overly bright or even quite harsh. A choice that will speak more to lovers of music rich in bass. 

The different equalisation modes of the Marshall app allow you to adjust the sound signature to suit your preferences. A real plus for these True Wireless IEMs, which demonstrate their versatility.

OM – State of Non-Return

The natural production of the song was brilliantly reproduced by these Marshall in-ear monitors. The bass drum benefitted from a powerful and responsive low end, the snare drum sounded great, the slightly saturated bass set the pace for the song without fail, while the vocals and the keyboard properly filled the rest of the soundstage. Despite a very present low register, we didn’t feel any imbalance and the sound planes were well laid out. The Marshall Mode IIs were very comfortable in reproducing the sound of the room and the timbre of the instruments. The same was true with the track Addis from the same album, which confirmed that the Marshall Mode IIs will delight lovers of acoustic and world music. 

Dinosaur Jr – Freak Scene

The Marshall Mode II IEMs seemed to be a little less at home when it came to reproducing more bare bone recordings. On this track from the 1988 album Bug by these alternative rock pioneers, the guitar solos sounded harsh and the Marshall Mode IIs seemed to struggle to maintain a coherent soundstage. Activating the Rock EQ mode restored some balance, but we had to settle for a low to medium volume to avoid excessive saturation of vocals and guitar solos.

Outkast – Hey Ya!

Back to a more modern production and in keeping with the signature Marshall Mode II in-ear monitors with this track from American duo Outkast. With the EQ in either Marshall or Hip-hop mode, the True Wireless Marshall Mode IIs offered a rhythmic and pleasant listening experience. We found ourselves turning the volume up as the song progressed. The bass drum and snare drum had a nice impact, the vocals were perfectly outlined and filled the soundstage accompanied by sound effects that moved from one side to the other. 

Designed to bring bassy tracks to life, the Marshall Mode II IEMs are particularly at home with hip-hop.

We tested the transparency mode outdoors and at home. The latter is far less efficient than the application’s built-in equalizers and it was difficult to hear what was going on around us and follow conversations, even when the music was paused. While the transparency mode can clearly be improved, it’s a good point in favour of the passive isolation of the Marshall Mode IIs, which have no trouble immersing the user in a sound bubble. 

Compared to…

Epos GTW 270: The Epos GTW 270 True Wireless in-ear monitors stand out by their more coherent sound reproduction and their ability to reproduce all musical styles without favouring any particular ones. The Marshall Mode IIs, however, have the edge when it comes to battery life and comfort.

Klipsch T5: The Klipsch T5s have a slightly longer battery life (32 hours vs. 25 hours for the Marshall IEMs) and a bass-forward sound signature, just like the Marshall Mode IIs. The Marshall Mode II in-ear monitors, however, offer superior wearing comfort and are more compact. 

The Marshall Mode II earphones combine style and power in a way that is typical of the brand known for its amplifiers.

Conclusion

Discreet and comfortable, the Marshall Mode II IEMs are designed for everyday use on the move, thanks to their compact charging case. They can also accompany you during workout sessions in the gym or outdoors. They are primarily intended for fans of modern productions and bassy music such as hip-hop, pop, electronic music and modern rock/metal. However, the Marshall Mode II in-ear monitors are very comfortable with orchestral and world music. Their Achilles heel is the reproduction of older recordings which are less generous in the lower end of the spectrum. These IEMs will therefore have a hard time winning over the hearts of fans of folk, blues, rock or country music from the 50s to the 70s. The Marshall Mode IIs combine style and power in a way that is unique to the brand known for its amplifiers.

We liked:

  • The compact and lightweight design
  • the in-app equalizer
  • the fun and rhythmic sound restitution

We would have liked :

  • Smoother highs
  • A more effective transparent mode

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