Marshall has been a prominent figure in the audio space for decades, and with awesome releases like the Major IV, it’s easy to see why. The company’s latest launch is a welcomed addition to the mid-range headphones market, packing excellent sound quality and the lengthiest playtimes we have seen in the category into an eye-catching, old school design. Unique features like audio sharing via daisy-chain support, wireless charging, and the patented knob controller also give these cans some modern swag.
- Our expert picks for the best wireless headphones, per budget and style
- Check out our Bose 700 review
- …and our Sony WH-1000xM4 review
While everything may sound perfect, Marshall did forget to check off a few boxes on our must-have list. This includes mobile app support, which the company offers for other products (not this one), sound personalization tools (e.g. EQ, presets), and other practical necessities like a Find My Headphones mode and carrying case. The on-ear design also means that ambient noises seep into the soundscape. All drawbacks aside though, the Major IV delivers way more performance than you could ask for at such a relatively cheap price.
Marshall Major IV: Price and availability
You can purchase the Marshall Major IV for $150 at major online retailers such as Amazon and Best Buy or directly from Marshall. The headphones only come in black, but if we’re following Marshall’s track record, there is a strong possibility that we see them available in White and Brown eventually.
Marshall Major IV: Design
All Marshall headphones evoke the spirit of the brand’s iconic vintage amps. The Major IV continues this trend with an aesthetically pleasing retro design that employs high-quality materials. The black vinyl-textured cover on the earpads and pebbled faux leather wrapping around the headband give these headphones a minimalistic, badass look that makes them feel like they should be attached to the soundboard in Dave Grohl's home studio. Marshall’s signature script logo is branded right on the front of each ear cup for recognition.
Even though the build quality isn’t as evident as it is on the brand’s noise-cancelling headphones, the Major IV is still a well-built model that has some nice heft to it when held in hand. It’s sturdy enough to protect the internals and stave off scratches and scuffs. I also liked how Marshall was able to make the design more functional, with the metal fold clips allowing the headphones to collapse for seamless portability.
It would have been great if Marshall included a carrying case with the purchase. Without one, you’ll have to keep these around your neck or toss them in your everyday bag when commuting. You do get an aux cable for wired listening and a USB-C charging cable.
Marshall Major IV: Comfort and fit
Marshall did a standout job of keeping these on-ear headphones lightweight and snug. The Major IV only weighs 5.9 ounces, which is close to the Jabra Elite 45h (5.6 ounces), but this model feels less flimsy. The form-fitting earcups might look stiff, but they’re actually gentle and well-cushioned to prevent your ears from pressing up against the inner speaker grills; this was a huge issue with the Elite 45h.
I also liked how the earcups maintained a tight grip to prevent slippage. Anyone with a low pain threshold may feel the headband press hard atop the skull when worn on the lowest setting, though loosening the extenders will provide a more relaxed fit and more ventilation. I put the Major IV to use for long stretches throughout the day and didn’t experience much discomfort.
Marshall Major IV: Controls and digital assistant
Give Marshall props for thinking outside of the box and developing a new, fun way of operating your wireless headphones. Well, Marshall headphones at least. The multi-direction knob streamlines how you control your music and phone functionality by using basic directional gestures and presses. It’s easy to use and the command list is straightforward: volume (up/down), skip forward or skip back (left/right), play/pause or answer/end call (1x press), enable voice assistant (2x press), and pairing mode (long press).
The controls are responsive, and the knob produces firm tactility that ensures users of intended commands. It takes some practice to get used to, but you’ll master it after a day of use. Personally, I love the grooved circles on the button, as it provides a firm thumb grip for single and long presses.
Adding to the Major IV’s convenient controls is digital assistant support. Siri and Google Assistant are available, so you’ll be able to shoot off voice commands without a hitch thanks to Marshall’s intelligible mics, which offer great speech recognition and register full sentences completely. It was nice to pull up NFL scores, create calendar invites, and send voice-to-text messages to friends without reaching for my smartphone.
Marshall Major IV: Sound quality
Marshall’s track record with audio is spectacular and the Major IV gives you no reason to second guess that. Expect dynamic, articulate sound to come out of the 40mm drivers, which lend themselves well to most music genres and other audio content, including videos, eBooks, and podcasts.
I find Jazz music to be the perfect measuring stick for frequency range, so I turned on some John Coltrane to get a feel for the Major IV’s sonic versatility. Sheer enjoyment was had listening to melodic masterpieces like “Naima,” where the double bass and serene-sounding sax play blended beautifully. Instruments were reproduced to perfection and made for an intimate listening session that had me feeling like I was front and center at the Blue Note Jazz Club.
Ramping up the low end, I switched to rock, a genre that Marshall headphones always crush, and proceeded to blast The Who’s “The Real Me,” which features a virtuoso bass performance by guitarist John Entwistle. The impact felt from the opening bassline was towering, while the highly energetic drums exuded funky vibes. Even on hip-hop tracks with uniquely simple productions like A Tribe Called Quest’s “Lyrics to Go,” the Major IV captured certain nuances that aren’t audibly noticeable on other models. I finally realized the song doesn’t even have an actual bassline, only a powerful back-kick, and it knocked hard on these cans. It’s that attention to detail that will sell audiophiles on the Major IV.
The Major IV is also serviceable for binging Netflix shows and YouTube clips. Clarity was spot-on, making dialogue-heavy content sound crisp and clear while accentuating certain effects; mic static was prominent on certain podcasts. Action sequences also sounded good, with explosions giving off a nice boom effect that wasn’t overbearing on my ears.
It’s no secret that on-ear headphones aren’t the greatest option for noise isolation, as they often let in more noise than they block out. The Major IV does a fairly decent job of physically neutralizing external sounds, though high-frequency noises find their way onto the soundscape, which slightly affects audio quality.
Marshall Major IV: App and special features
Marshall developed a mobile app that comes with EQ presets, a timer setting, and control customization. Unfortunately, it only works with their wireless speakers and flagship Monitor II A.N.C. headphones. Seeing how numerous brands, from Anker to Sony, have brought app functionality to mid-tier headphones, this is a missed opportunity for Marshall.
That isn’t to say the Major IV doesn’t have a neat trick or two hidden up its sleeve. These headphones come with a 3.5mm socket to daisy-chain two sets of headphones, letting you share music with another user. It’s a feature that has been around for a while, though only a handful of headphone makers have employed it. Nonetheless, it’s a fun and useful way of listening to albums or watching movies together with a partner, especially on the road.
The other cool feature: wireless charging. Honestly, I thought this was something that was mainly reserved for wireless earbuds, so to see Marshall do this is super impressive. All you have to do is rest the headphones on any Qi-enabled charging pad and let them recharge. FYI, Marshall doesn’t include a charging pad with the purchase. In addition, the Major IV’s weight distribution can sometimes make it difficult to properly balance the headphones on the charging pad, but it isn’t a huge deal.
Marshall Major IV: Battery life
We touched on the Major IV’s wireless charging capabilities, now let’s talk battery life. It’s ridiculously high. A full charge is said to get you 80 hours, which is more than double the battery life of premium noise-cancelling headphones. The only other wireless headphones we’ve seen come close to this mark are the Jabra Elite 45h (50 hours) and Anker Soundcore Life Q30 (60 hours with ANC off).
How accurate is this? I would say fairly accurate. Taking volume levels, streaming, and video conferencing into account, the Major IV will max out around 60 hours, which is still more than adequate for about three months of listening. Testing the headphones for about a week, 2 hours daily, I still have 75% battery life left. Marshall also integrated its own quick charging technology that gets you 15 hours of playback on a 15-minute charge. Most headphones only get you 2 hours in the same time frame.
Marshall Major IV: Call quality and connectivity
Call quality on older Marshall headphones has been respectable. The Major IV is an improvement that offers great voice clarity and volume to hear conversations loud and clear. Speaking with my wife during a grocery run, she mentioned my voice sounded crisp, though she could hear some background noise. The headphones perform better indoors.
You won’t have to worry about dropped connections because wireless performance is strong on the Major IV. Bluetooth 5.0 runs the show, instantly pairing the headphones to iOS/macOS and Android devices while granting a solid range (35 feet) to stream music from afar without having to clutch onto your smartphone. I hopped from room to room and didn’t experience any cutout when jamming to Spotify playlists or jumping on Zoom calls. Multipoint technology should have come part of the package, but unfortunately, you can only connect these cans to one device at a time.
Marshall Major IV: Verdict
At $150, the Marshall Major IV is a steal that blesses you with best-in-class battery life and near-professional sound. To have an estimated 80 hours of playtime at your disposal is insane. Anything you stream on these cans will sound stellar, in particular, contemporary music genres. Bluetooth performance is spot-on. Then there’s the understated design that gives the headphones a distinguishable look.
With its moderate MSRP comes a few omissions, which limits functionality on several fronts. Why Marshall didn’t make the Major IV compatible with its mobile app doesn’t make sense, especially since it comes equipped with sound customization options. The subpar noise isolation isn’t a deal-breaker, but if you’re someone who wants a distraction-free listening experience, then we recommend a noise-cancelling pair like the Sony WH-1000xM4 or Bose 700. Besides that, the level of sound and lengthy playtime alone makes the Major IV a worthy investment.