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TESTED: MARSHALL MAJOR IV BLUETOOTH HEADPHONES

New Bluetooth headphones promise over 80 hours of battery life and a killer sound, but do they pass our audition?


Marshall's expansion into new markets is a rare example of a brand finding new avenues for business without selling out the products that made their name. One look at the Marshall Major IV headphones and you'll be transported to any festival or gig from the 1960s until today - that famous calligraphy logo, front and centre in bright white, surrounded by textured black leather and the occasional gold embellishment. It's been the backdrop for Jimi Hendrix, Guns 'n' Roses, Led Zeppelin, Eddie Van Halen and any other act who care to turn their amps up to 11.


In short, Marshall is rock 'n' roll, and it makes perfect sense for the company to downsize their amps and sit them right over your ears.


It's not just the looks that hark back to their live music roots, either - there are some nice touches that give a little nod to Marshall's heritage. Instead of a quaint 'ping' or a futuristic 'twinkle', the power-up sound on the Major IV headphones is a beefy, overdriven guitar. It's a frivolous thing, right? But it's the kind of joined-up thinking that lets you know Marshall have really thought about these headphones, rather than signing their name over to a Chinese manufacturer and letting them do the rest.


Longer life than Keith Richards

As the name suggests, the Major IV is Marshall's fourth generation of over-ear headphones and they promise vast improvements on their predecessors. Firstly, there's the battery life. At 80 hours, that's a whopping 50 hours more than the Major III, and comfortably 30 hours more than is promised by its competitors. Even more impressive is that a complete charge takes just three hours using the provided USB cable, and a quick 15 minute charge will deliver roughly 15hrs of playback. At the time of writing, I've had these headphones for three weeks and so far I've not even had to think about plugging them in for a charge. Will they give me a warning or just clap out in the middle of a dog-walk? I can't tell you, which is a good sign, but perhaps a battery indicator on power-up might be a good idea.


We're told the headphones support wireless charging, though as we don't have a suitable charger, we aren't able to test that function, either. This battery life is incredible for the consumer, and absolutely terrible for a reviewer.


The Major IV's minimalist design consists of a single, gold knob on the right earpiece. It's a welcome departure from in-ear headphones I've used in the past, which have all manner of buttons and touch pads that leave me feeling like I'm attempting a skill move on FIFA just to turn the volume up: Left, right, double tap, up down and before I know it, I've accidentally called my mum half way through a run.


Marshall's single, round button does it all: tap twice for voice assistant, or push up and down for volume control and left and right for skipping tracks. One minor gripe is that pressing the button doesn't always switch them on at the first attempt - perhaps it's my clumsy fingers accidentally pushing the button slightly to the side rather than the direct push it requires, but I often need a second attempt to power them up. Once we're in, though, the connection to my phone is super fast and faultless.


The Major IV headphones feel sturdy, with enough bend to give confidence that they won't be destroyed in the bottom of a bag, though a carry case would be welcomed - especially at the provided RRP of £149. In fact, I'll go on record to say I'm disappointed they didn't follow through with an entirely unpractical but on-brand mini metal flight case...

But enough about the looks - what do they sound like? Well, it shouldn't surprise you to hear that Marshall know what they're doing here. The bass is deep enough without being overpowering, the guitar tones are crisp and vocals cut through beautifully. Perhaps lovers of bass-heavy music might want to opt for a pair of Beats instead, but if we didn't already make it clear enough, Marshall is expertly playing to its crowd.


At the time of writing, we've been road-testing the Major IV for over a month and, despite daily use, we've still not had to charge them yet, which is phenomenal for a Bluetooth headphone but rather useless for a reviewer hoping to road test its charging capabilities. They've been shoved into jacket pockets on occasion, endured the odd British downpour and stuck it out through some sweaty runs and gym sessions and still look brand new so, we can confidently say that they're a sturdy piece of kit, too. Perhaps the only gripe we can lay at the door of the Major IV is that the gold control button, while beautifully simple and minimalist in its design, occasionally needs a double, or even triple, push before it turns on or off. Given that a jolt to the side or a flick up and down means it's performing a different function, it requires the delicate touch of a jazz pianist, rather than the clumsy bashing of this ageing rocker.



VERDICT
4.5/5

As dependable as a Marshall amp and with a longer life than Keith Richards, the Marshall Major IV tops the bill when it comes to Bluetooth headphones.




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