The Marshall Mid ANC are retro-styled headphones with modern tech like active noise cancellation and aptX support. We loved the Mid ANC for its styling and punchy sound, but were let down by its lack of detail, annoying ANC switch and squeaky hinges.
- Retro styling
- Punchy, warm sound
- Great battery life
- Lacks detail
- ANC switch
When we reviewed the Marshall Mid Wireless, we came away impressed with its great battery life, compact size, and convenient controls.
With the Marshall Mid ANC, the company kept everything we liked about the Mid Wireless and added active noise cancellation … as you probably could have guessed from its name. But with the addition of active noise cancellation, the Mid ANC command a $70 (£70) premium over the Mid Wireless, which is quite a lot, especially when you consider the competition.
After spending several weeks with the Marshall Mid ANC, we came away liking its styling, punchy sound and great battery life but its high price of $270 (£240, about AUD$358) in a highly competitive market make it tough to recommend. But, that said, if you love the styling and don’t mind a slightly soft sound, the Marshall Mid ANC are a good choice.
Physically, the Marshall Mid ANC looks identical to last year’s Marshall Mid Wireless but with an addition of an active noise cancellation slider on the right earcup. This slider shows red dot when ANC is off and a gold dot when it’s active.
While the slider works well for enabling and disabling ANC quickly, Marshall decided to keep the ANC feature independent from the headphone power, so it’s possible to keep ANC on without a Bluetooth connection. This means if you power down the headphone without turning ANC off, ANC will continue draining your battery.
We imagine that, like us, many will forget to turn off ANC in between uses and returning to a dead headphone next time they try to use it. Thankfully, Marshall includes a very nice coiled headphone cable to use when you’re out of juice.
All controls are located on the left earcup with Marshall’s iconic golden toggle switch. This one switch manages to control everything from power, pairing, playback, and volume and we found it very intuitive.
The Marshall Mid ANC keep the on-ear design of the Mid Wireless and they can be folded up for travel. Unfortunately the earcups don’t fold flat so they may bump into your chin when you’re wearing them around your neck.
The earpads are a nice faux leather and the headband is covered with a soft suede. Marshall’s branding is proudly displayed on each earcup in gold as well as underneath the headband. The headphones also come with a nice carrying case that features the brand’s iconic red velvet in the inside.
Overall, sound quality is good, but was a bit soft and lacking the detail we wanted across the frequency band. Marshall isn’t going after the audiophile market so it’s sound signature is strictly mainstream, meaning you get a nice warm presentation with good bass response.
Scanning the audio range, highs are rolled off and never sibilant, but lack detail. Mids are a bit recessed, ironic given the name, but makes for a more exciting sound signature at the high and low end. Sound stage is quite narrow and makes pinpointing where each instrument is coming from a bit vague.
As for its headline feature, active noise cancellation, the Marshall Mid ANC did an average job with dulling ambient noise but it just can’t match class leaders like Bose or Sony. The Mid ANC did a very good job blocking out most of the noise on the train but you can still hear conversations. This is good if you want to stay aware of your surroundings but may frustrate those who want to block as much noise as possible.
Battery life is rated for 20 hours of music playback with ANC turned on and up to a staggering 30 hours when ANC is turned off. Our testing showed that this number was pretty spot on, but will depend on your listening volume.
The Marshall Mid ANC are handsome headphones for those who want to stand out from the crowd with an interestingly designed headphone. Audio purists might not enjoy that the sound quality is strictly mainstream with tons of bass and emphasized highs and the fact that the sound lacks detail across the frequency range. The sound stage is also quite narrow so music sounds like it’s centered close to your head.
As for its headline feature, active noise cancellation, the Mid ANC are just OK. The headphones block out a majority of the noise from the outside world but can’t touch competitors like the Bose Quietcomfort 35 II or Sony WH-1000XM2. Both headphones are more expensive but offer better sound quality and noise cancellation.
For less money, the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 are still an excellent package for travelers thanks to its good noise cancellation and long battery life while the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC are about half the cost and offer better sound quality and noise cancellation.
In the end, the $270 (£240, about AUD$358) Marshall Mid ANC fail to stand out when it comes to sonic and noise cancelling performance but its unique looks will please those looking to stand out from the crowd.