/> ED I T O R S C H O I C E IN N O V A T IO N A W A R D
X

CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

Marshall Mid ANC review: This wireless noise-canceling headphone rocks -- except for its price

carnoy-headshot-2019-2

For better or worse, noise-canceling headphones are all the rage. They use opposing sound waves to counteract external noise like jet engines. And now Marshall has a wireless headphone that features the technology: The Marshall Mid ANC ($269, £239 or around $AU350). 

03-marshall-mid-anc
7.8

Marshall Mid ANC

The Good

The Marshall Mid ANC is a sturdily built on-ear noise-canceling wireless headphone that delivers strong sound and good battery life in a compact design; the noise-canceling is decent; a nice carry case is included.

The Bad

Not as comfortable as full-size wireless noise-canceling competitors from Bose and Sony; should cost a little less.

The Bottom Line

While it needs come down in price, Marshall's Mid ANC delivers strong performance in a compact design.

What's a little unusual about it is that it's an on-ear model -- you just don't see too many noise-canceling on-ear headphones, since the design lets in external noise by default.

It's also a more refined follow up to the company's Major II Wireless, which is currently selling for the bargain price of $62 on Amazon and the noise-canceling version of the Marshall Mid Bluetooth, which is selling for around $90 on Amazon. Marshall also makes an over-ear wireless headphone, the Monitor Wireless, but it chose to add noise-canceling to an on-ear model first.

From a comfort standpoint, I'm not a huge fan of on-ear headphones. They tend to bother me after longer listening sessions. However, I didn't find the Mid ANC uncomfortable and I think it's more ergonomically sound than Marshall's earlier Major II Wireless.

It's built sturdily with metal hinges and has a nifty little joystick-like universal control button that allows you to skip tracks forward and back and adjust the volume (the same controller is found on the Major II Wireless and Monitor Wireless). It also comes with a nice, though somewhat bulky, carrying case. An included cord allows you to listen in wired mode.

Overall, this is a pretty well-balanced sounding headphone that should work well with a wide variety of music. It has decent clarity, with only a touch of treble push (presence boost) and tight, deep bass, particularly for an on-ear model.

One of the tracks we test the bass with is Alt-J's "3WW." With some headphones the bass from that track tends to come off sounding boomy. But the Marshall Mid's bass held together nicely and was well defined.

I compared the Marshall Mid ANC to the best two overall noise-canceling models, the Sony WH-1000XM2 and Bose QuietComfort 35 II. Both are more comfortable headphones than the Marshall.

I found the Bose and Sony slightly more pleasing to listen to, particularly over long periods -- and not just because they're more comfortable. They're just a little warmer and slightly more open (with better overall clarity, the Sony arguably has a slight sound advantage over the Bose). But the Marshall is a very good sounding Bluetooth headphone.  

10-marshall-mid-anc
Enlarge Image
10-marshall-mid-anc

The noise-canceling on/off switch.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Its noise canceling isn't quite on par with what you get from Bose or Sony. It's a little lighter and calibrated more to drown out sounds as you're walking around a city rather than airplane noise. And in my tests, it did a decent job muffling the noise as I walked around the streets of New York and rode the subway. I could certainly tell it was on.

The headphone worked pretty well as a headset. It's lacking such extras as a side-tone feature that allows you to hear your voice in the headphones as you talk. But callers didn't complain about not being able to hear me.

As for battery life, you get up to 20 hours of playing time with the wireless and noise canceling on at moderate volume levels. That number jumps to 30 hours without noise canceling. Those are decent numbers. 

The real question is whether you'd should buy this headphone over the Bose QuietComfort 35 II or Sony WH-1000XM2. The short answer is probably not. While it certainly sounds good and its compact size may appeal to certain buyers, it's priced too high at $270. Yes, that's less than the Bose and Sony -- but it's not significant enough.

However, with the Marshall Mid Bluetooth showing up online for less than $100, I expect we'll see some discounts on the Mid ANC in the coming months. It's well worth checking out, particularly if it does drop in price.

07-marshall-mid-anc
Enlarge Image
07-marshall-mid-anc

The included carrying case is swanky but a little bulky.

Sarah Tew/CNET
03-marshall-mid-anc
7.8

Marshall Mid ANC

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 9Sound 8Value 7