Surprisingly for the Marshall Minor headphones, Big M has partnered up with Zound Industries to deliver a very interesting set of headphones.
UrbanEars is a VERY modern Scandinavian design company, so does the marriage of retro + modern work?
Read on my friend…
At its heart, the Minor is essentially a re-branding of the UrbanEars Medis, which I reviewed back in March. As a quick recap, I liked them a lot. The Medis offered very good sound quality at an affordable price, in a hip modern package. Features like the in-line microphone for cellphones were appreciated. The only downside was on-the-ear isolation was a bit lacking compared to in-the-ear solutions (meaning I often had to turn the volume up higher to block out noise), but the ear locking mechanism was an extremely novel and practical solution to securing on-the-ear ‘phones without resorting to clips or a headband.
The Minor are practically the same in use, so the same pros and cons are reflected, even down to great feel of the fabric woven (instead of cheap rubber) tangle-free cabling.
What has changed is the look, feel, and presentation. The ultra modern UrbanEars “Rectangles and Triangles” packaging is gone, in favor of Marshall’s simple old-school brown cardboard. If you spend a lot of time looking at guitars and amps in your local audio gear store, you’ll feel right at home. I especially enjoyed the contents illustrations and “This Side Up” arrows…
You can purchase the Medis in practically any color you might wish to wear on your head. You can also buy the Minor in any color you want…
…as long as the only color you want is traditional Marshall Black and gold.
Marshall has elected to give us a long reinforced gold plated 3.5mm jack. The look is fantastically cool, recalling the look of guitar jacks, even down to the textured edges for grip.
The problem? It’s REALLY long.
This isn’t an issue when connected to a stereo or a stationary piece of gear, but it makes me a little nervous when connected to my phone or ipod, which are both mostly made out of plastic. Keeping my phone in my pocket while listening to music, I now had a point of tension, and occasionally pops or crackles would hit my ears as I did things like sitting down. Feeling the minor case flex introduced by the Minors, I was a little worried that too much stress on this point would damage my headphone jack.
And this leaves me just a little torn.
I REALLY like these headphones. I REALLY liked them as the Medis, and the Marshall style tweaks are just friggen cool, right up my alley. However, the choice of headphone jack MUST be considered when purchasing, especially if you’re planning on using them mostly with pocket-able devices.