Marshall, makers of guitar amps and retro-styled speakers that look like guitar amps, also has a presence in the true wireless in-ear headphones space. They actually maintain the signature old-school styling, making many of their products look distinctive. The company’s recently launched Motiff II ANC earphones are an example.

The case the Motif II buds sit in has the same vegan leather finish as the Marshall speakers do, which is what brings it in line with the design approach the company follows for its branding. The individual buds look quite stylish and retro and even have a gold-coloured tip at the end of the stem, reminiscent of the gold-coloured knobs on Marshall speakers. If you own a Marshall speaker, the buds look like a companion product.

In the modest package, the earphones arrive in, you get three extra ear-tip sets, the usual literature, and a short cable. The earbuds are in their case which, because of the leather finish, is easy to grip, easy to carry, and also easy to keep clean. There’s a small hidden button on the case to start up pairing, so look for it, just under the Marshall logo. Not that you’ll really need it very much as opening the case will trigger off pairing invitations on the phone.

Get a fit

Before you take a listen, test out the fit and see if you might need a change of ear tips. For most people the default medium should do well and the buds are not clunky or awkward and fit comfortably enough. They do tend to get slightly deep into the ear canal, so find your comfort with that because a poor fit will make them feel loose and not give a proper seal. You also won’t get the full soundstage as you’re meant to, unless the fit is right.

There’s a full-fledged Marshall app to give access to features. There aren’t a lot of settings and fiddling to be done, but you can certainly choose the ANC level, set some limited on-bud controls and adjust the EQ from inside the app. When you wear the buds, an alert sound tells you that they’re on and working fine - a useful touch.

Signature sound

The Motiff in-ears offer what the company calls ‘Marshall Signature Sound’. It’s supposed to be like sitting in the front row at a concert. While that may be a stretch and perception of music quality is very subjective, there’s little doubt that the sound is full of clarity. You hear the highs in a well-separated and clean delivery while the bass is present without being unnatural and overwhelming. Bass-heads may want more, so it’s a good thing that users have a full five-band equaliser in the app from where one can select from among presets like Bass Boost, Energise, etc, or create one’s own profile and save that as a preferred configuration.

Anyone looking for thumping and punchy bass, however, should look elsewhere since that’s not how these earphones are configured. The Motif II push out sound from 6mm dynamic drivers and work with Bluetooth 5.3 LE to stabilise the connection and improve sound quality. Codecs supported include just SBC and AAC.

Many genres of music, from Jazz to Pop, Classical to Blues. Vocals sound crisp, and details sound discernable, but users in this part of the world typically prefer deeper bass. Fans of electronic music and rock etc might crave a little more depth.

The Motif II ANC will need to work on their noise cancellation which is more functional on earphones that are one-third the price these days. Although there’s the typical transparency mode, a full ANC mode that one can trigger from the app as well with a tap on the left earbud, sometimes it’s difficult to tell if a real difference comes in at all. ANC is certainly not a good reason to buy these earphones — music clarity and balanced sound are.

These earphones are actually IPX5 and IPX4 rated, so both case and buds are water resistant. Outright immersion isn’t recommended. Battery life is 6 hours with ANC and 8 hours without. Wireless charging, a premium feature still, is supported.

Marshall’s Motif II cost ₹19,999.

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