Marshall Mode II Review: Pretty Good First Attempt At True Wireless Earbuds!

The Marshall Mode II are Marshall’s first-ever true wireless earbuds, and if you have small ears, these might be the best earbuds for you.

Let’s talk design. You get Marshall’s traditional design aesthetic: pebbled leather on the case top and bottom along with a diamond-bevelled plastic ring running along the middle of the case for extra grip and the white plastic logo on top. It screams Marshall, let’s be real. The pebbled leather is a dead giveaway, and personally, I’m a big fan of it. Anyway, there’s an LED indicator on the front, as well as a USB-C port on the left side of the case. That being said, there’s wireless charging here! It's a handy little feature and one that I’ve been using for a while. It's always good to have wireless charging, especially when the earbuds cost a bit more than the average.

Moving into the case though, you get the earbuds. On the inside of the case, you also get a gold ringed button that’s pretty reminiscent of the omnidirectional control knob you get on the Marshall Monitor II headphones or even the Emberton speaker. A mini version of those, at least. There are also LED lights on either side of the case next to the earbuds that light up and pulse when you open the lid to show if they’re fully charged or not.

That’s about it for the case, so let’s get to the earbuds. They’re small. They’re super low profile, which means that even if you have smaller ears, they most likely will sit very well and not cause too much discomfort. For me, these are pretty much flush to my ears, and I tried sleeping with them in one night with no issues at all. Very nicely done on Marshall’s part to keep these small. You still get that curvy M logo on the faceplates, so people who know Marshall will know you’re rocking the company’s product.

There are touch controls on these earbuds, but not quite as intuitive as I would have liked. One tap on the left earbud controls Transparency mode, two taps pull up the voice assistant. On the right side, one tap controls play/pause, while two taps and three taps skip music forward or backwards respectively. If you get an incoming call, one tap answers or hangs up the call, while two taps reject it.

It’s okay, but I’d have liked to see a long press on either side for volume control.

Moving onto features, you do get the Marshall companion app for firmware updates and the likes, and in the app, you can also see the battery life for each side of the earbuds, turn Transparency on or off as well as adjust the EQ. You get a five-bar EQ feature with three slots. Well, technically two slots, since slot one is always fixed on the Marshall preset which gives you the “original Marshall sound”. And that’s about it.

It’s a simple companion app, and it’s a bit of a shame we don’t get the opportunity to customise touch controls. I wouldn’t turn on transparency or use the voice assistant, so I would prefer if I could change those to something else, but it is what it is. Oh yeah, there’s wear detection too, so if you remove a bud, the music pauses. It doesn’t seem like it can be turned off in the app though, so it might be a bit annoying for some people.

Surprisingly, there’s no ANC here, which means you do need to play music at a slightly higher volume to counteract noisy environments. You do still get that Transparency mode I mentioned though, so it's useful if you need to hold conversations with your earbuds still in your ears.

These are running on Bluetooth 5.1, so not 5.2. There’s also a bit of conflicting information on the Internet about what codecs this support, with some people saying you get SBC, AAC and aptX, while Marshall’s manual for the Mode II says only SBC and aptX, so I connected these to a few Android phones that had developer options enabled to see what I could pick. And, yeah, you only get SBC and aptX which is a bit odd. Typically, true wireless earbuds come with SBC and AAC, while aptX can be hit and miss regarding whether you get it or not. I'm not sure about Marshall’s thought process here, but Apple users are pretty much out of luck since they’ll be forced to only use SBC. There’s no multipoint connectivity either.

Battery life is okay; Marshall claims five hours in the earbuds and I managed to get around 4 hours and 20 minutes, so it's pretty accurate. I did notice the right earbud drains a bit quicker than the left though, so that’s something to keep in mind. There are an additional four charges in the case for a total of around 20-25ish hours. I’d say closer to 20 though.

So there’s something nice with these earbuds, and it’s the IP rating. You get IPX5 for the earbuds, which is slightly better than the standard IPX4, but what’s surprising is that the charging case itself even has an IPX4 rating. So now, you don’t have to baby the charging case, everything will stand up to a splash of water.

Microphone quality is pretty average, to be honest; not terrible to the point that people on the other side can’t hear you, but my voice did come across a bit hollow.

The sound quality, though, is great! You get a pretty accurate sound, although the mids do feel a bit recessed at times. The bass is nice and detailed and you get some nice energy in the highs, although if you’re prone to listening to music at high volumes, it might start to get a bit fatiguing.

Soundstage is pretty decent, overall, it’s nicely balanced and there’s not much to complain about at all.

So is this worth the price tag? Well, it's a hard choice there. I’d say yes if your ears are on the smaller side because these are really comfortable, or if you just like low-profile earbuds. These don’t stick out and look really weird in your ears, but they still sound great. The only problem for me is the lack of ANC and the five-hour battery life in the earbuds, but hey, it’s a great first attempt by Marshall. I’m definitely looking forward to the next iteration.


Content by Cheryl Tan