Marshall Major 4 review: A minor masterpiece

(Pocket-lint) – Marshall’s Major III Bluetooth headphones was one of those successes that might make one wary to tinker with the formula – as wireless over-ears go it remains an absolutely superb product. 

It’s no surprise, then, that the follow-up Major IV headphones add only a few small quality-of-life changes; it’s the headphones company making whatever minor improvements it can in the pursuit of perfection.

Design evolution, not revolution

  • All-black vinyl finish
  • Brass control knob
  • Weight: 165g
  • On-ear fit

When it comes to the look and feel of the Marshall Major 4, almost nothing has changed – these cans look near-identical to the last version, which is a good thing.

Slipping these on will see you wearing some of the most stylish on-ears around, in our view. The look is classic without screaming for attention, but the white Marshall logo is enough that knowing observers will notice your taste.

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Similarly, that single accent of brass in the form of the control knob is again a welcome splash of metal in the otherwise simple black colourway. 

Leather-effect finishes on the headband and plain black on the cups make it all nice and matte, and soft to the touch, and the overall effect is summarily impressive.

The wire fasteners that join the earcups to the band, and the exposed wire that runs between them, are industrial touches that round it all off nicely, too. The fact that it folds up to a decent degree is a nice bonus, too. 

Features

  • 80-hour battery life
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Wireless charging, USB-C & 3.5mm ports

Impressively, the changes that Marshall has made for the Major 4 on the features side of things aren’t even based on complaints from the last time – they’re just things it could now do even better.

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For example, the Major 3’s superb battery life could last 30 hours on a charge – a really impressive benchmark even a couple of years later. Marshall has, somehow, not just extended that mark but more than doubled it – you’ll be able to get an almost ridiculous 80 hours from the Major 4, which has backed it up in our weeks of testing. This truly means you can charge it less than once a week even if you’re an avid user – it’s just amazing. 

If and when you do need to recharge, the other major change comes in the form of wireless charging – put the Major 4 down on its left earcup, the one with the normal ports, and it’ll charge from any Qi-compatible wireless pad. That’s nice and convenient, although can be a little fiddly to get right. If you prefer, though, there’s a USB-C port (upgraded from Micro-USB last time around) for normal wired use. 

There’s even a 3.5mm jack, like last time, in case you want to use it wired or don’t have a moment to charge up. That’s a great gamut of functionality for such a small set of headphones, and one that makes the Major IV nice and adaptable to whatever situation you need. 

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The aforementioned control knob ties it all together by letting you easily skip tracks, adjust the volume and play/pause. It remains one of the most intuitive control mechanisms we’ve used on any headphones, as you’d hope. Pairing, finally, is quick and easy via Bluetooth, and stable in our testing, too.

Sound punching above its weight

  • Frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz
  • 40mm dynamic drivers

Of course, that would all be solid enough on its own, but the Major 4 also pairs it with really nice sound – you obviously won’t be quite as immersed in your beats as with an over-ear option, and there’s no active noise cancellation (ANC) here.

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Those are pretty much the only negatives, though, and they feel a little more like neutral points of information. The Major 4 sound absolutely great, whether you’re listening to EDM, rock, or just your morning podcast. Like most of Marshall’s modern speakers and headphones, there’s a rich and balanced sound that almost always nails the feel of a song or artist. 

These on-ears are also great for wearing when out and about – easy to slip on and off, and throw into a backpack, but also packing enough of a punch to make for great listening even with busses whoosing past and hubbub around you. 

Verdict

Making only minor changes to the formula, Marshall has absolutely nailed it once again with the Major IV on-ear headphones, which tick just about every box you could hope for in a pair of wireless on-ear headphones (ignoring the lack of noise-cancelling tech).

You get absolutely exemplary battery life, great balanced sound, easy charging and a look that’s unique and classy. You really couldn’t ask for much more. 

Alternatives to consider

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Marshall Monitor II ANC

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If you’re into Marshall’s design aesthetic, but want over-ear headphones or something that just packs a little more of a punch, you could consider upgrading to the Monitor 2 ANC, which has active noise-cancelling and a more premium build – although it costs a good chunk more. 

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Marshall Major 3

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Hear us out here – if you really like the look of the Major 4, you should probably do a quick check to see how much you could pick up the last version. We’ve often seen them for less than half the price of the newer model, and with that sort of markdown it’s a no-brainer – if you can forego the epic battery life.

Writing by Max Freeman-Mills. Editing by Mike Lowe.





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