Today, Marshall has opened up pre-orders for its newest active noise canceling earbuds: the Motif II ANC. It’s actually the first headphone or speaker product released by Marshall Group, a new venture combining the core Marshall Amplification company and Zounds, which has been producing the headphones and speakers under the company’s name since 2010. These earbuds boast some big advances over the last gen (2021), with improved battery life and quick charging at the forefront. You can pre-order the Motif II ANC ($199) from Marshall’s website today and the product will be shipping on September 12th.
Plenty of features remain the same as before, so existing Motif users can do a cost-benefit analysis to decide if they’re ready to upgrade. There’s still the 6mm dynamic drivers pushing out tunes within the 20Hz - 20kHz frequency range. You get touch controls for core operations like play/pause, skip and noise control (ANC and transparency mode). The Bluetooth range of approximately 33 feet still persists although the Motif II buds now have Bluetooth 5.3 and will support Bluetooth LE Audio (LC3) with future updates.
The sound of the new Motif II should also be essentially the same as before, although, to be honest that’s just based on specs since I haven’t tried the first-gen model. The buds fit snugly in my ear (at least) and provide a thick bass experience and the rich and familiar Marshall sound profile. The active noise canceling works well to block out most environmental noise like a subway or crowded bar, letting only some voices slip through as distant chitchat.
The IP rating is also unchanged with an IPX5 water resistance for the earbuds and IPX4 for the charging case. That means these buds are fine for a normal workout, but not great to dunk in the sink. And the charging case itself should be treated with a little more care. You can also still charge the case wirelessly, which leads us to one of the biggest upgrades of the Motif II: battery life.
The new Motif II has a total of 30 hours playtime assisted by the charging case (10 more than before) and with ANC enabled. Without that feature turned on, you should be able to get up an impressive 43 hours total. The individual buds have standalone playtimes of six to nine hours depending on whether you use ANC or not.
While the previous full-charging time was three hours, it’s been halved to just one and a half hours via USB. Additionally, there’s a fast charge setting you can turn on through the app which will get you a whole hour more than previously. That means in 15 minutes of charging you should get about two hours now, which is eternally useful.
You'll also get the Spotify Tap feature with the Motif II ANC. You can access the Spotify with a double tap and long press of the touch controls on your earbuds without needing to pick up your phone. The details for this touch feature and all the others are found in the Marshall Bluetooth app, along with all the other features and some touch customization.
Marshall's Motif II ANC earbuds cover all the essentials and provide a great listening experience without overcomplicating the product. Long battery life is a core necessity for many and these buds shine in that regard. The minimal black exterior with gold capped ends keep them visibly subtle and that signature sound profile is worth a listen for those who are unfamiliar. Pre-orders for the $199 earbuds are open today at the company's website and they should be shipping out on September 12th, which is rapidly approaching.