Every rock guitarist knows the name “Marshall.” Every rock guitarist. The name is legendary and carries a certain allure for rock ‘n roll musicians the world over. Now Marshall offers that same rock legend status to a broader market with their headphone line. Our pair, the Major, are the flagship headphones for Marshall’s solid entry into the crowded on-ear category.
The Major namesake is derived from a 200 watt amplifier head that the British company had released in the late ‘60’s as a high powered offering. Rock lore has it that those beasts could explode on stage when pushed hard. Not to worry though, the modern day Major headphones will not blow up on your head.
Frankly, what should be an explosive audio delivery leaves a little bit to be desired when coupled with any iPod or iPhone. Bass response is minimal and the sound is flat overall from an EQ standpoint. The audio, however, is clear and crisp for a very even sound with a lot of mids. Playing with the EQ settings on both my devices, unfortunately, were barely able to boost the highs or lows to my preference. Interestingly enough, the Major does include an in-line play/pause button and mic that is compatible with most Apple products and any phone or player with a two-way plug.
Take heart though, Rock Minions, the Major offers more in the way of detail, features and charm. From the same vinyl and basket-weave, to the gold metallic accents found on Marshall’s amps, these headphones boast an array of aesthetically pleasing elements to put it ahead of similar sets. Namely, the comfortable leather ear pads and the heavy-duty coiled cord (so retro!) are enough to make any rock aficionado swoon. Speaking of retro, the packaging was a unique cardboard representation that unveiled to display the headphones on a pedestal, getting us pumped to try them out.
— Jack Cotter (@JackJCotter) March 20, 2013
Included as standard with the headphones is a 6.3mm gold-plated stereo adapter for use with any standard ¼” input. This is particularly useful for guitar amps or effects processors with headphone jacks. This is where the Major really shines. When coupled with my Marshall Class 5 combo amp (naturally) or my Line6 Pod, the Major blossoms into a great choice for midnight shred sessions. The highs are clear, the lows tight and every nuance of either device maintained. In other words, these are a great choice for practice sessions or basic home recording use. The addition of adapters also makes the Major very attractive to guitarists or bass players.
Sadly, unlike most of Marshall’s amp line, these bad boys are NOT manufactured in the UK. They are lovingly crafted by Zound Industries in China under license. This is not necessarily a detractor for most looking into a new set of headphones, but for the guitar crowd who are accustomed to most of their wares being produced in the West, it may come as a shock.
While the Major is a great stylish set for your preferred phone or player, it performs better in Marshall’s natural habitat: rock. These aren’t Beats or Skullcandy. They won’t pump bass enough for the hip-hop tuned eardrum. What they will do is offer is a great addition to any guitarist’s practice rig and give the rock collector a taste of Marshall without having to find room for a full stack amp.