Marshall Headphones' originalwas a likable on-ear model, but not a great one. Now we get the Major II, which looks similar to the original Major, but this new model is significantly improved, with a better design and sound that makes it a good value at its online price of $100 (£99, about AU $160).
For starters, the earcups have a more rounded design, and the hinges and headband are more flexible, and the headphones just fit your head better and are more comfortable to wear.
The double-ended coil cord has an inline one-button remote and microphone for cell phone calls -- it works with Android and iOS smartphones -- and that cord is now detachable. It also has a more durable L-plug instead of the original's straight plug. I had a little trouble getting the plug to fit in the jack of an iPhone that was covered by a tougher case, so be aware that it's not compatible with all smartphone cases.
On the headphones themselves, the dual 3.5mm jacks allow you to choose which side you prefer to wear your cable on, or you can have a friend plug in and share your music.
Marshall says Major II's vinyl finish is more durable, and while I can't tell how it will hold up over time, the new model does look and feel a little swankier and sturdier than the original Major and is closer in build quality to the special-editionthat we also liked.
The Major II headphones also sound better than the first model, with improved bass response and increased detail. They're fairly warm and forgiving; they work well with a variety of music, but maintain a decent amount of clarity. You sometimes get a little too much bass push in sub-$100 headphones, which leads to some muddiness, but overall these headphones are pretty well balanced and sound as good as more expensive headphones we've tested.