Hands-on with Marshall’s Motif ANC/Minor III earbuds: Stylish designs and perfectly-balanced EQ

Marshall finally launched its first pair of earbuds with active noise cancellation, and we’re taking a hands-on look to see how the new Motif ANC stack up. That’s alongside the more affordable Minor III earbuds, which provide a cost-effective alternative. With stylish design in tow on either pair, which one is more worth your cash? Head below for all of our thoughts.

Earlier this fall, Marshall launched two new pairs of true wireless earbuds. Arriving with the same old-school vinyl design as the first pair we previously reviewed, the new ones pack different form factors. There’s the Minor III on the more entry-level side, with the Motif ANC entering as the lineup’s flagship releases.

Hands-on with the new Marshall Motif ANC earbuds

As a quick rundown of what you can expect from Marshall’s new flagship Motif ANC, the earbuds mark the very first part of the brand’s true wireless buds to feature active noise cancellation. There’s a pair of 6mm drivers at the center of the experience, which pairs with a unique in-ear design, added water resistance, and 20 hours of playback with the Qi-enabled charging case.

I’ve been using the Motif ANC as my daily drivers over the past few weeks and have to say I’m quite impressed. Marshall already made a great first impression back with the Mode II, and so going in my expectations were quite high. On the form-factor and build quality, there’s nothing but the usual premium design. Just about everything feels well-built and of course, has that eye-catching vinyl wrapping.

The actual audio quality is where things really stepped up for me. Not to completely spoil the more in-depth take, but I am absolutely loving how the Motif ANC sound. While other brands will give you full control over the EQ settings to personalize things to your liking, Marshall just delivers a profile that’s as fine-tined as can be out of the box. Amongst the latest from Klipsch, Anker, and even Apple that I’ve tried this year, there’s nothing that has quite the same balance across the soundstage as the Marshall Motif ANC.

As for the active noise cancellation that is making its first debut on a pair of true wireless earbuds from Marshall, these do a pretty decent job at blocking out ambient audio. The silicone ear tips create a pretty comfortable seal that certainly helps the software perform well, but we’re unfortunately not talking about the new contender sitting on the throne of ANC earbuds.

Don’t get me wrong, the Motif ANC does a noticeable job of cutting out distracting noises. At risk of sounding like a broken record, Apple has just delivered such a well-rounded experience with ANC that anything else just can’t quite compare.

The only area that Marshall could have improved upon is the charging case. It’s probably the most superficial critique I could give the Motif ANC, and one that doesn’t really affect my overall opinion of them, but the hinge is far less satisfying than other earbuds out there. It doesn’t click open and snap into place like some of the other high-end buds on the market, and just feels a bit out of place amongst the otherwise premium look and feel.

All and all, to say I’m happy with the $199.99 price tag is a bit of an understatement.

A closer look at the more affordable Minor III

Then there’s the more affordable Marshall Minor III. These arrive with every bit as much retro theming as the more capable Motifs, just with a less rich feature set and paired down design. There’s a streamlined build that lacks any silicone ear tips and enters with the classic stemmed style for a pair of true wireless earbuds. The 12mm drivers pair with 25 hours of playback thanks to the vinyl-wrapped Qi charging case.

And so how do they fair as a more affordable pair of buds? Not too bad. The soundstage is certainly a bit more limited compared to its flagship brethren, but it’s every bit as balanced despite not being as high-end. That’s to say the Minor III sound pretty nice for the price point, and Marshall’s continued effort has paid off with another pair of well-tuned release.

On the flip side, I wasn’t as sold on the actual design. This is definitely going to be more subjective, but the Minor III design just wasn’t as comfortable over extended periods of wear. If you’re used to a similar style there shouldn’t be an issue, but coming from a pair with the more forgiving silicone tips just wasn’t doing it for me.

All that said, the $129.99 price tag is quite fair if this is the kind of earbud you’re looking for. The style and sound quality is still unmatched amongst its similarly-priced competitors, even if these are the entry-level true wireless releases.

As of now, both pairs of Marshall’s new earbuds are fighting stock constraints. Though the brand is expecting to see a resupply come early November, so you can sign up to be notified for scoring them next week on either of the landing pages for the Motif ANC or Minor III.

9to5Toys’ Take:

Earlier this year, when I first took a hands-on look at Marshall’s first true wireless earbuds, I noted just how worth the wait on the Mode II was for enjoying a true wireless pair of buds from the brand. Now, several months later, I feel like I’m experiencing déjà vu with what Marshall has brought to the table this time around.

The Motif ANC are nothing short of some of the best active noise canceling earbuds on the market right now, and are certainly my favorite release of the year so far. From the sound mixing to the design that is plenty comfortable for long listening sessions, I’m a big fan of all the adjustments the brand has made from the first pair we saw earlier in the year.

I was even going to pick up the new MagSafe Charging Case-equipped AirPods Pro prior to getting the Motif ANC, but not anymore. These are going to replace the Mode II as being my everyday drivers, and definitely have to say they’re my favorite earbuds right now. If missing out on the more tight-knit feature set of AirPods Pro isn’t a deal-breaker, these are an easy recommendation. The Minor III on the other hand is a different story.

That’s to say I think these more affordable buds certainly worth spending the extra cash to buy either the Motif ANC or even Marshall’s existing Mode II. Otherwise, the Minor III should fit the bill if that is the type of true wireless earbuds you fancy.

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