Review: Marshall Motif ANC

Hear more of the music

With both cool sound and good noise reduction, the small Marshall Motif ANC is one of the best buys in the price range.

Published 2021-11-13 - 7:00 am
Marshall Motif ANC
Lasse Svendsen

Not so long ago, we tested Marshall’s first true wireless earbuds, the Marshall Mode II, and were excited about the sound, but missed the noise reduction. The new Motif ANC has both, ie a sound that is especially suitable for pop, rock and hip hop, as you expect from Marshall, but this time you also get good noise reduction.

The Motif earbuds are well below Sony’s WF-1000XM4 in price and have Bose QuietComfort Earbuds and Jabra Elite 7 Pro as their closest competitors. Not to mention Apple’s AirPods Pro, which costs the same. But the Motif buds sound better than the Boses, and they have better noise reduction than the AirPods Pro.

This is partly due to the fact that the Marshall earbuds fit better, at least in my ears. It is easier to get an adjustment that provides optimal sound.

A quick comparison with Jaybird Vista 2, which has the advantage of a silicone brace in the outer ear and is therefore extra comfortable, fell out in Marshall’s favor. They also have better noise reduction than Vista 2 and beats one of our favorites, the KEF Mu3, on both comfort and noise reduction.

The Sony WF-1000M4 is still the reference when it comes to noise reduction, and the Marshall buds do not attenuate various disturbances equally effectively, but they worked really well in an aircraft cabin. Where both announcements from the cabin crew and the aircraft noise were pleasantly muted.

The Marshall earplugs are spray-proof according to IPX5 and can withstand a downpour, and silicone tips in small, medium and large as well as the obligatory Marshall case are included. The charging case provides an additional 15.5 hours of battery life in addition to the 4.5 hours the earplugs play with noise reduction enabled.

The case can be charged from a USB port via the included USB-C cable, but they also support wireless charging from a charging plate.

The compact case can easily be in your pocket. (Photo: Lasse Svendsen)

Fit and ease of use

Like so many other Marshall wireless headphones, Motif is also supported in the Marshall app. Here you can choose between several EQ settings: Rock, speech, pop, hip hop, electronic and Marshall’s own preset. Neither jazz nor classical has its own setting.

In the app you can also regulate the noise reduction and the degree of sound transmission via the microphones on the outside. The touch-sensitive surface on the side of the plugs can be turned off or used to turn the noise reduction on and off as well as select EQ or voice assistant.

The range is super. It is fine to walk around the house with the mobile phone left on a table, and the voice quality of mobile calls is approved. Unfortunately, the quality of the sound of conversations entering the earplugs is much like standing in a room with the door closed and trying to have a conversation with someone outside!

mm5 mm4 mm3

Sound quality

After testing the Marshall Mode II, I was looking forward to testing the Motif and I was not disappointed. The classic Marshall sound is still here, but it has become better balanced and more polished than on previous models.

Like Mode II, Motif is best when playing pop, rock, hip hop, electronica or metal, but of course I also had to test with jazz and classical. Although it’s hardly the first thing one associates with Marshall.

The earplugs escaped with the ordeal honourably. The sound of Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden’s interplay provided both depth in the piano sound and rich tones from the double bass. They even performed well on Verdi’s Requiem, and although I have heard more nuances and better depth of sound in Luciano Pavarotti’s voice, there was no lack of empathy and commitment in the way the music was reproduced.

There was more speed across the field when Doyle Bramhall II and Eric Clapton embarked on “Everything You Need”, which like Steely Dan’s “Black Cow” sounded very convincing. With proper glow in the midrange and bold bass combined with good dynamic contrast, the rhythm of the music came out well in the soundscape. Which, however, could well have had a little better resolution and sophistication, but then I think Marshall must find even better drivers than these.

Classical music may not be Marshall’s earplugs’ favorite, but they do get away with it without embarrassing themselves. (Photo: Lasse Svendsen)


Marshall Motif ANC is a welcome alternative to the established noise-canceling hearing aids. They generally play brilliantly, especially when the playlist consists of music that comes into its own, when the reproduction of bass, percussion and guitars is the driving force in the soundscape. But they also do well on classic, believe it or not.

The noise reduction is better than I had hoped, and although the quality of speech through sound transmission is weaker than we like, the Motif is easy to recommend. Like Mode II, they manage to bring out the smile, and they elevate the music experience many steps compared to budget earbuds. You can not ask for more at the price.

Marshall Motif ANC

We think

Large, rich and dynamic sound with good balance and bold bass. Good noise reduction. Compact, spray-proof and fits well in the ears. Great value for money. The voice quality on phone calls is lousy, and the sound of music lacks a bit of resolution and sophistication compared to the very best.

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