Marshall Major IV Review: Sounds as good as it looks

The Marshall brand might be famed for its guitar amps, but it has been in the headphones market for a while. For instance, its Major on-ear headphones series is now into its fourth iteration.

Like other Marshall headphones, the Major IV is a looker and definitely will attract glances of envy.

It looks minimalistic and classy at the same time with Marshall’s iconic white script adorning the black textured vinyl cover on each squarish ear cup as well as the faux leather wrapping the headband. It features a collapsible design, so you can reduce its size when you put it in your bag.

PRICE: $269 (available in Lazada and Shopee)
DRIVERS: Custom-tuned 40mm dynamic drivers
ONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth 5.0, 3.5mm audio cable
WEIGHT: 165g

But the Major IV’s build is sturdy and premium. This is despite its lower price tag compared to its active noise-cancelling (ANC) cousins. In addition, the Major IV is lightweight and very comfortable to wear. I can wear it whole day without any discomfort whatsoever.

The Major IV is very comfortable to wear. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

All the ports and control are sited at the base of the right right cup. Apart from the sole control knob – in gold colour – there is a 3.5mm jack and a USB-C port for charging. Plus, the Major IV supports wireless charging via the right ear cup as well.

All the ports and sole control knob are found on the right ear cup. (Photo: Marshall)

The single control knob is super convenient, as you do not need to remember all those gestures found on headphones with touch-sensitive ear cups.

You press and hold the control knob for 2 seconds to turn on or off the headphones. Push and hold the knob for 4 seconds to start Bluetooth pairing process.

Move the control knob up and down to increase and decrease the volume respectively. Move the knob to the right or left to jump forward or backward a track respectively. Press the knob twice to activate the voice assistant of your smartphone. It is so easy. I learnt the controls in a matter of minutes, compared to hours or days for other headphones.

+ Attractive-looking
+ Comfortable to wear
+ Intuitive control knob
+ Superb audio quality
+ Long battery life

– No active noise cancellation
– No carrying case
– Does not work with Marshall app

In terms of sound quality, the Major IV’s audio output is spectacular. The highs are bright and crisp, with clear mids and punchy but not overbearing bass. Vocals sound sharp and details are retained even when volume is dialled up high.

You can hear the distinct notes of the different instruments when listening to classical music. Switching to K-pop music, such as Blackpink (don’t judge!), the audio balance remains incredible with thumping bass while not drowning out the rap vocal. The Major IV performs well in most music genre, whether it is jazz or rock and roll.

Battery life of Major IV is extraordinary with an estimated playback time of 80 hours on a full charge. I practically didn’t have to charge it for a week of use. I was only charging it to assuage my low-battery anxiety by the 8th day.

The Major IV even supports wireless charging. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Not to mention, you can always plug in the 3.5mm cable to your computer or smartphone (if it has a headphone jack) when it is low in battery juice.

One thing to note about the Major IV is that it is a pair of on-ear headphones. Unlike over-ear headphones that cup your ears and in-ear headphones that reside in your ear canal, on-ear headphones press on your ears (thus its name). As such, on-ear headphones will be a great alternative for those who feel their ears “burning” with over-ear headphones or their ear canals irritated with in-ear headphones. On the downside, on-ear headphones aren’t really good with ANC.

So, it is no surprise that the Major IV does not come with ANC. Not that I am expecting it from a pair of on-ear headphones or one with such an affordable price tag of $269.

But I do hope that Marshall should have at least included a carrying case or a pouch. This is to prevent scratches of the ear cups when you put the headphones into your bag.

Another downer is the lack of app support for Major IV. For example, I cannot use the Marshall app to customise the equaliser settings. Thankfully, the Major IV works well with most music genres.

The Marshall Major IV is a pair of on-ear headphones that offers great looks, superb audio quality and super-long battery life. Highly recommended if ANC is not something you need.

DESIGN: 9/10
OVERALL: 8.5/10

Trevor Tan

Started out with dreams to become a street photographer, Trevor Tan somehow became a tech journalist with over 16 years of consumer tech experience. Maybe he plays too much video games and buys too many new gadgets.

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