Build Quality (8/10): The Major shares its basic design with its lower-priced sibling, the UrbanEars Plattan, but sports better materials and superior molding quality all around. The square cups are definitely supraaural but the padding is far plusher than with the Urbanears and the grilles are protected by a nice-looking woven mesh. Same goes for the two-tone headband – it’s much thicker than with the Urbanears and offers a genuine leather look, as well as Jim Marshall’s signature on the underside. The nylon-covered cord of the Plattan is also gone, replaced by a lightweight coiled cable terminated with a rather beefy 3.5mm I-plug shelled in gold.
Comfort (6.5/10): The cups and headband of the Major may be nice and plush but, as with the Plattan, there is simply not enough adjustability in the structure for long-term wearing comfort. The headband clamp is only moderate but the headphones still become uncomfortable after an hour or two.
Isolation (6.5/10): The Major is a little more loosely-clamping than its siblings but the soft vinyl pads seal a little better. It also leaks a little bit more compared to the Plattan and Colors.
Sound (6.75/10): Whether due to the pedigree of the brand or simply the higher price tag, there is no doubt that the Marshall Major performs far better than the Urbanears and Coloud models. The bass is punchy and reasonably controlled, though sub-bass extension isn’t great and most of the impact comes from the mild mid-bass lift. Compared to the Urbanears Plattan, the Major is much less boomy and much more detailed. It’s not the fastest headphone, nor is it the tightest or most resolving – direct comparisons to more analytical sets such as the MEElec HT-21 and Beyerdynamic DTX 300 p emphasize the Major’s tendency to ‘linger’ on bass notes – but it’s not offensively slow or bloated, especially considering the decidedly consumer-friendly bass quantity.
Bass bleed is minimal and the Major is somewhat mid-forward overall. The mids, like the bass, are a little thick and creamy, but nothing too offensive – certainly clearer and more detailed than with the Major’s lesser brethren. At the very least the notes have good weight and presence, making the HT-21 sound a touch thin in comparison. Next to the midrange, the treble is slightly laid-back and just a touch strident at the bottom. Treble sparkle is mostly non-existent and the Major usually remains inoffensive without resorting to severe upper-end roll-off as the Urbanears Plattan does. Top end extension is moderate – not terribly lacking but nothing to brag about, either.
The presentation of the Major is intimate but not congested. A lack of distinct upper treble emphasis means it doesn’t sound quite as airy as a MEElec HT-21 or Beyer DTX 300 p but compared to the UrbanEars Plattan and Coloud Colors, the Major is much more spacious and realistic. For a small closed headphone, it has a fairly ‘big’ sound, with decent front-to-rear and top-to-bottom soundstaging. However, it’s missing some of the width, layering, and positioning precision of competitors such as the Soundmagic P30. Unlike the lower-end UrbanEars Plattan, which is limited by poor dynamics, the Major seems to be let down by the mid-forward balance more than anything else. That said, the headphones are lively and generally make for a fun listen. The extremely high efficiency is also bound to appeal to the mainstream consumer – these things go brain-splittingly loud compared to something like the P30.
Value (7/10): For a name as monumentally respected in the music world as Marshall, the Major disappoints, but only slightly. I really wish they had put a different badge on the headphone and tossed aside all pretentions to fidelity because it is quite enjoyable for a consumer-class listening device. The sound is warm and mid-forward, with an ample bottom end and slight roll off at the top and bottom – not hi-fi by any means, but very passable. In terms of design, however, the Marshall suffers from the same basic problem as the UrbanEars Plattan – lack of flexibility in the structure. Though the looser clamp and ample padding help, it really isn’t well-suited for long listening sessions. It’s too bad, really, as I quite like its simple construction, retro looks, and lightweight coiled cord.
Frequency Response: 20-20,000 Hz
Impedance: 32 Ω
Sensitivity: 121 dB SPL/1mW
Cord: 3.94ft (1.2m), single-sided, coiled (up to 6’); Straight Plug
Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.