Marshall Motif II ANC Wireless In-Ear Headphones Review

Posted on 13th December, 2023

Marshall Motif II ANC Wireless In-Ear Headphones Review

Cheryl Tan tries out the new, improved version of this distinctive-looking noise-cancelling earbud design…


Motif II ANC Wireless In-Ear Headphones

£179.99 RRP

Marshall Motif II Review

Marshall products look very distinctive thanks to their black pebbled leather texture, white logo and gold trim. It’s no different for the new Motif II ANC earbud design, which is the company’s updated take on the original but with neat new functionality bolted in…


Starting with the case, which hasn’t changed much – it’s still compact and can easily slide into a jeans pocket. The white Marshall logo is now set into the case instead of existing on a small flap over the lid, but the case retains the black pebbled leather look embossed into a rubbery material, which holds up well to scuffs and skin oils. On the front, a nice tactile button lights up the LED for battery levels or, if pressed and held, puts the earbuds into pairing mode.

On the bottom of the case, you get a USB-C port for charging, and there’s also Qi wireless charging support here – although I did find it a bit finicky to get the correct placement on my wireless charging pad since the case is on the more compact side. Speaking of battery life and charging, Marshall has improved all around, with a new six-hour charge in the earbuds and a total of 30 hours when including the case. The battery life was one of the biggest problem areas in the original version of the Motif ANC earbuds, so it’s definitely a good sign to see the company make some changes here. While six hours is still on the average side of things, it’s much improved from the first-generation version. 

Marshall Motif II Review

Moving to the earbuds, this new model also looks similar to its predecessor. One visible change is the addition of a gold accent circle at the bottom of the stem, which adds a bit of colour and pop to an otherwise relatively subdued-looking earbud design. The stem is knurled in a diamond pattern again, which helps to add grip when you’re inserting the earbuds into your ear or adjusting them without having to tap the touch-sensitive area at the top. 

Each earbud sits comfortably in the ear with no issues with wearing them for a few hours on end, even for people with smaller ear canals. Both the case and earbuds are also made with seventy percent post-consumer recycled plastic, which is a great step forward in terms of sustainability. The case and earbuds are water resistant, although the case is IPX4, which is a touch lower than the earbuds’ IPX5 rating. Regardless, it’s still better than most rival designs out there, which only provide a rating for the earbuds.

Beneath the pretty exterior, we get a 6mm dynamic driver and circuitry featuring Bluetooth 5.3 LE (low energy), with support for the SBC, AAC and LC3 codecs. However, to take advantage of the new LC3 (Low Complexity Communications Codec) specification, you’ll require a phone or source device that also supports LE Audio. The benefits of LC3 include better power efficiency and better latency, along with supposedly better sound quality than SBC despite a more compressed audio stream at a lower bitrate. 

Marshall Motif II Review

There’s also the Marshall companion app, which allows for EQ customisation through a few presets, a custom five-band EQ, ANC, and transparency intensity and simple touch-control customisation of the long press. The standard things like firmware updates, battery levels and such are all included as well. There’s an interesting Battery Preservation feature that allows for a few options, such as only allowing the earbuds to charge when at room temperature, limiting the battery charge to ninety percent, as well as whether the earbuds fast charge or charge at a default speed. It’s definitely an interesting feature and one that we see popping up on smartphones, although I’m not so sure that it is really necessary for products such as earbuds. 

The touch controls work in a very similar way to most other systems out there. A single tap controls play/pause, a double tap skips tracks forwards, and a triple tap skips tracks backwards. Unfortunately, these tap controls aren’t customisable through the app, which is a shame. 

Microphone quality on the Motif II A.N.C. is also improved compared to the original version of these earbuds, with much better clarity when taking calls or when recording voice memos. 

Marshall Motif II Review

The active noise cancellation was a weak point of the originals, alongside the battery life, and while Marshall has improved the latter, the former is still rather lacklustre. While it is capable of helping to drown out the rumble of car engines or train travel, higher-pitched sounds aren’t effectively blocked out. This is partially due to the fact that the earbuds don’t form the tightest seal in the ear for passive noise isolation, but the ANC software has to take part of the blame as well. 

While the seal can be improved by swapping out the ear tips for a larger size or for more isolating materials like foam, Marshall should really look into improving its ANC algorithms and implementation, as this should result in the biggest difference for future iterations. The ANC performance isn't acceptable for earbuds in this price range.


One of the saving graces of this design is its sonic performance. As with the first generation Motif A.N.C., this new version of these earbuds sounds excellent, with deep, impactful bass and sub-bass that comes across clearly and without any sort of boom or muddiness, even at higher volume levels.

Midrange separation is also excellent. Listening to Bleed It Out by Linkin Park, the claps, guitar notes, drums, and more were all relatively distinct with a good amount of detail. Similarly, playing Livin’ On a Prayer by Bon Jovi, I actually found myself paying more attention than usual to the talkbox effect at the start, while the background vocals during the chorus were nicely brought out as well. 

Marshall Motif II Review

As for the treble, it is sufficiently clear and has a pleasing spaciousness – although I would have preferred a bit more bite. Thankfully, with the custom EQ feature, it’s easy enough to tweak the sound of the earbuds to one’s preferences. 

The soundstage isn’t too cramped either, with a good amount of space on display. It’s not quite as expansive as many more expensive earbuds can get, but it is decent enough. Stereo imaging and instrument placement is also accurate, and as mentioned earlier, the separation is good with enough air between instruments and vocals so you don’t feel like everything’s crammed into your head. 

Listening to Spring 1 by Max Richter proved perfectly serviceable on these earbuds. Still, I’d say that the Motif II A.N.C. isn’t really intended for people seeking neutrality and clarity, particularly in the upper registers. It’s not a forensically open and incisive performer and instead offers a tonally richer and more euphonic presentation.

Marshall Motif II Review


Marshall’s new Motif II A.N.C. sounds as impressive as its predecessor while building on its operational abilities. The improved battery life, plus the addition of a custom five-band EQ and new LC3 codec, make an already capable earbud design even nicer to use. Furthermore, Marshall has done all this while keeping the price of these earbuds the same. Now, all we need is for better ANC in the next version.

For more information visit Marshall

      Cheryl Tan's avatar

      Cheryl Tan

      After diving down the custom IEMs rabbit hole since she was 18, Cheryl has embarked on a long journey trying out as many audio products as possible ever since. She’s still waiting for the day a company can create a pair of true wireless earbuds that sound just as good as wired earphones.

      Posted in:Headphones Headphones In Ear Monitors Noise Cancelling Bluetooth / Wireless
      Tags: marshall 


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