Wireless headphones are no longer a novelty, so if you want your cans to stand out in a category that’s very crowded at this point, you need to bring something new to the table. For Marshall’s new Major IV headphones the company is introducing wireless charging, making these some of the first wireless on-ear headphones without a single cable to wrangle.
At $249 (available for pre-order today and officially on sale starting October 14 on MarshallHeadphones.com) the Marshall Major IVs aren’t designed to go head-to-head with wireless headphones like Sony’s flagship WH-1000XM4s. For starters, there’s no active noise-cancelling on the Major IVs, and the headphone’s on-ear design means even passive noise blocking is going to be minimal. If you’re in need of serene silence, move along, but if you plan to block out the world by just blasting your ears with decibels, the Major IV’s 40-millimetre drivers should be up to the task.
On the right earcup, in lieu of fancy but often overly sensitive touch panel controls, the Marshall Major IVs feature a multi-functional metal knob that can be rotated to adjust the volume on your source device connected over Bluetooth, or be moved around like a joystick for controlling playback or answering or rejecting incoming phone calls.
The right earcup is also where you’ll find a jack for attaching a physical headphone cable that can also be used for sharing music with a friend who can plug in their own set of headphones, as well as a USB-C port for charging. But hidden behind the Marshall logo is a wireless charging coil allowing the Major IVs to also be recharged by simply setting them on a Qi-compatible charging pad. (Balanced on the side of the right earcup, that is.) It’s a feature only found in a handful of on-ear and over-the-ear headphones at this point, and given the convenience, it’s surprising more headphone makers haven’t added wireless charging.
As mentioned earlier, the lack of active noise cancelling makes the new Marshall Major IVs less than ideal if you’re looking for something to drown out the sound of a passenger plane on a long flight. But at the same time, the Major IVs also seem like a solid option for travelling given Marshall promises over 80 hours of listening time on a single charge, while quick-charging for 15 minutes (either wirelessly or over USB-C) will give you up to 15 hours of battery life. For comparison, the extra noise-cancelling chips in the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones means they’ll need a charge after about 30 hours.
The new Major IVs might not be the first choice for audiophiles, but for budget-conscious rockers they trade noise-cancelling for excellent battery life and the convenience of wireless charging, which still somehow sounds like you actually come out ahead.