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Marshall Major III On-Ear Bluetooth Headphone review

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The bargain-priced Marshall Major III was a shot in the dark for me, and it paid off - not so great without an equalizer, but excellent with. Great comfort, good quality build if you get the genuine article, decent aesthetics. I highly recommended it based on the stipulations in this review.



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And now for phase 2 of my Marshall Major III ('Major3') Bluetooth headphone review. As noted above, I use a minimum amount of EQ with headphones that need it, in an attempt to bring them closer to the sound of live acoustic music**. This doesn't always succeed, either because the equalizer is too limited, or the curve I apply doesn't work for some reason. In the case of the Major3, it worked very well indeed.
**I'd prefer that my headphones sound truly neutral, with as little EQ modification as possible, but in the end I get there only about half of the time. In the other cases, I either give up or settle for a "warm-neutral" result that's satisfactory for most genres.
The ultimate test for me is when the headphone has good frequency extension on both ends with no apparent distortion, a tonally accurate midrange that blends well with the bass and treble, and plays equally well with all of my favorite tracks in multiple genres. The Major3 differed significantly from my Pioneer HDJ-X10c on just three of these EDM tracks (Anamanaguchi, Avicii, Fairmont) - slightly better on two of them and not as good on a third track.
Above & Beyond - We're All We Need (feat. Zoe Johnston): A very nice tight but impactful bass with crystal clear vocals - the Major3 plays this with great ambiance.
Anamanaguchi - Planet: A complex mix of percussion sounds and hummed vocals. The bells and other high-frequency percussion are highly detailed, the bass line has moderate weight, and the bass detail is surprisingly good.
Armin van Buuren - J'ai Envie de Toi (Orig Mix feat Gaia): Decent bass impacts, breathy vocals, lots of fun noise - the Major3 plays this perfectly.
Avicii - Feeling Good: Classic female vocal in movie-theme style - the Major3 brings this to life like few other headphones I've heard.
Carl Kennedy-Tommy Trash ft Rosie Henshaw - Blackwater (Original Master): Nice strong tight bass impacts, female vocal, rendered delectably by the Major3.
Crystal Castles - Wrath of God: Atmospheric tune with vocal sound effects and strong bass line, plus some unique treble percussion sounds. The Major3 brings these unique sounds to life.
Digitalism - Pogo: A driving beat with a detailed bass synth and great vocals ("There's something in the air...") - the Major3 makes this very enjoyable.
Dino Lenny-Lino Di Meglio - We Will Make It: Atmospheric tune with mixed vocals - the female vocal is a special treat with the Major3.
DJ Shadow - Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt: High-pitched tones and strong deep piano chords with a hummed female vocal - ultra-cool with the Major3.
Fairmont - Poble Sec: Awesome detailed bass impacts with some nifty pingy guitar/synth effects. I discovered this tune at the time I purchased my 3rd v-moda M100 - the Major3 makes this just as enjoyable.
Giuseppe Ottaviani - Lost for Words (On Air Mix feat Amba Shepherd): Strong bass impacts behind a female voice - a large-scale sweeping sonic image reminiscent of epic adventures in an exotic land. The Major3 is playing on a whole new level here.
Hecq - Enceladus (With Skyence): Prodigious deep bass and clean at that. This tune's melody is more abstract than most of the others here, but the Major3 makes it a real adventure.
Katy B - Crying For No Reason (Tom Shorterz Remix): Oh myyyyy, I love Katy B. The vocal mix here is awesome and the bass is solid. This is the Major3 at its best.
Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch: I first heard this in The September Issue film and soundtrack, as the backdrop for the opening catwalk (watch Andre grinning at 1:51 - all you need to know) - the Major3 plays this amazing tune perfectly.
Lee and Malinda - Truth Will Set You Free (V-Moda Mix): Lee Kalt is the master, this is the masterpiece. The drum (or tom-tom) hits here have a very realistic skin-tone, the female vocal is seamlessly integrated into the driving beat, and the synth effects also blend well - the Major3 just owns this.
Markus Schulz - Mainstage: The granddaddy of bass is in this track, and the Major3 plays it smooth and clean.

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Continuing with the third set of music samples for my Marshall Major III ('Major3') review, the following are a few of the "odds and ends" I've picked up in the process of reviewing approximately 200 different headphones. The only other headphone that included these sample tracks was the Pioneer HDJ-X10c, so refer to that review for comparison, to see how well the Major3 compares to the Pioneer.
Note that my EQ curve for the Major3 (linked above or on my website) features a modest bass reduction centered around 60 hz, yet these tracks demonstrate an excellent bass response for this headphone, with very satisfying detail.
Le Voyage Dans La Lune: Soundtrack to a hand-painted color movie. A terrific variety of sounds that show off the excellent audio qualities of the Major3.
Muse - Madness: Strong bass impacts with massed vocals around a lead singer. Clearly delineated by the Major3.
Mylene Farmer - Desenchantee: French vocal over a driving bass beat. Very enjoyable with the Major3.
Robyn Hitchcock - Autumn Is Your Last Chance: Nicely-recorded acoustic/electric guitar with compelling vocal. Pure class as reproduced by the Major3.
Samantha James - Amber Sky: Reverberant instrumentation and ethereal vocal. Dreamy stuff that sounds amazing on the Major3.
Satchmode - Best Intentions: Atmospheric vocals over an excellent bass line. Exquisite reproduction by the Major3.
Sneaker Pimps - Underground (Nellee Hooper Mix): Slow-paced club music with female vocal and soft but impactful bass. Very pleasant listening with the Major3.
Soliquid - Shibuya (Paul Keeley Remix): Eight minutes and 50 seconds of heavenly beats and awesome musical synth effects as heard with the Major3.
Stones and Bones - Love Lockdown: Ibiza 2014 track with a very spacious atmosphere and a bit of contrapuntal vocal. Outstanding on the Major3.
Susanne Sundfor - Accelerate: High-ambiance noise with decent bass impacts and reverberant vocals. The Major3 makes this track come alive.
Third Sex - Monster Snack: One of the best of the Goth/RiotGrrrl genre, available on the Free To Fight CD. Somewhat primitive sound with aggressive vocal, but there ya go - as good as it gets with this headphone.
Three-11 Porter - Surround Me With Your Love: Pleasant male-female vocal mix against a big-ambiance backdrop. Lush presentation by the Major3.
Visage - Fade To Grey: Atmospheric and reverberant recording supported by a luscious synth line. The Major3 plays this perfectly.
When Saints Go Machine - Love And Respect: Super-energetic music with reverberant vocal counterpoint. Strong bass impacts delivered cleanly by the Major3.
Yaz - Situation: Bright pop-EDM music from the past. Played exquisitely by the Major3.

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THE MARSHALL MAJOR III Wired-only version:
As a kind of final check on the Marshall Major III ('Major3') series, I purchased two new sets of the wired-only version from Marshall direct in the USA, for $50 USD each. Remarkably, where we often see very significant sample-to-sample differences in frequency response etc. for even premium flagship headphones at the various testing sites, I don't find a significant difference between these two wired versions of the Major3 and the Bluetooth** version I purchased previously.
**Using the Bluetooth version in wired mode, although the Bluetooth sound has the same basic signature despite the lossy codec.
I used the EQ curve noted at the top of this review for audiophile listening with the DragonFly Red or Oppo HA-2 DACs. While the consistency of the Major3 samples I've purchased from two different sources speaks well of Marshall's quality control, there's not enough money in this product to get the refinements you hear in Beyer Tesla's, Sennheiser HD800's, or the top-end planar headphones. Still, once the best possible EQ is applied, the soundstage and tonalities are so good that to get a better sound from the average $600 headphone, you would need to equalize those to their best neutral sound.
I played the album "Carmen Gomes Sings The Blues" for my main listening in comparing these three sets of the Major3. The original recording was made in DXD 352.8 plus direct-to-tape analog. I got the 96 khz FLAC version, which was excellent.

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