Marshall Major Heaphone by Zound Industries

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Great guitar amplifiers are great because they produce a lot of distortion. I wonder what a great guitar amp maker thinks a headphone should sound like?

Well, here’s our chance … I guess. The Marshall Major ($99) is a mid-size, earpad, sealed headphone, but is actually made by Zound Industries of Sweden. Yes, this is another lifestyle headphone from the makers of Urbanears. I have no idea how much input Marshall had in the design and approval, but let’s give the Major a chance. Throw the drum-kit in the back of the Econoline and we’ll go for a ride to Rock ‘n Roll with the Marshall Majors.

Styling, Build, and Ergonomics
I didn’t have a milk crate half filled with guitar and microphone cables to check it out, but I’m sure these cans would fit right in. That’s a complement. I’m pretty old school and thought these cans had a good deal of visual fun factor. From the bold, white Marshall logo on the outside, to the guitar amp fabric grills on the inside, I thought these looked pretty cool in just the rock ‘n roll sort of way Zound no doubt intended from the look and feel of their web site.

Build quality looks pretty good; these cans are basically the mechanics of the Urbanears Plattan re-designed. Other than the grill cloths, the rest of the exterior is various types of synthetic materials; good-looking, but feels a little cheap for a can at this price. Fit and comfort are good, and these headphones are reasonably stable on the head. It’s cold here in Montana at the moment, but I’d guess the Majors would get a bit sticky on a humid Alabama summer day.

The Sound
Zound Industries implies on the Marshal Headphone website that these cans were designed to have a particularly heavy sound. From the site:

“Jim soon begun building his own amplifiers and thanks to his unprejudiced mind combined with certain twists of electrical fate the Marshall amplifiers were blessed with a sound much heavier than anything heard before.”

And …

“With Marshall Headphones it is now time for Marshall and rock ‘n’ roll to introduce yet another bold push into the unknown.”

The Majors have majorly heavy mid-range quite bold and unknown to my ears, that’s for sure. These cans are very punchy and dynamic sounding in the middle of the audio spectrum, strongly accentuating vocals and the speech intelligibility range. They’d be great for books on tape, videos, and talk radio, but for me they weren’t listenable with music … especially for the intended genre of rock ‘n roll. There was far too much upper-midrange for me: electric guitars were hard; snare hits were eye-blinking but not well defined; cymbals were too crash intensive. The bass was present, but lower in volume than the mids, and turning them up to get bass just yielded a more shouting result. The low treble, like the mids, was colored by accentuation and somewhat harsh; but the higher octaves were more laid back and reasonably smooth and clear. They were pretty hard sounding on old rock recordings to my ears.

I’m reminded of the 3”x5” speaker in the dashboard in my buddy’s 1970 Pinto --- a very peaky mid-range rules them out for my music listening pleasures. Good speech intelligibility, however, might make these cans work fine with books on tape, video watching, and talk radio. Not recommended for music.

Frequency Response Measurements

The significantly up-hill frequency response curve between 10Hz and 2kHz reveals the clearly audible emphasis on the mid-range.

Full measurement .pdf here.

Zound Industries International AB

Markvardsgatan 2

11353 Stockholm