Marshall Mode Headphones Review
Affordable, tastefully styled, with detailed audio to boot.
The Insides That Count
The Marshall Mode Headphones (MSRP: $69.00) get gold star after gold star in each of the tests that we put them through in our labs. It’s hard to argue with data and results this good, so instead I’m going to lay it all out for you in nice, bite-sized chunks to go through.
The frequency response test resulted in something that looked pretty similar to an equal-loudness contour, which means an emphasis that doesn’t play favorite with any one note or sound. No matter what kind of music you enjoy listening to, the Modes will perform well in most regards.
The true faults in the Modes comes down to its features, design, and whether or not you’d rather have music with a flatter response to equalize your own music. The bulk of those distinctions will most likely come down to personal taste, so let’s take a look at what can’t be argued—the cold, hard data.
Much like the other tests we put the Modes through, their results in our frequency response test shone in their results. Overall the entire chart looks fairly similar to an equal-loudness contour, which means that certain frequencies are boosted to make the loudness of the entire audible range able to be heard by the human ear equally well.
Our testing starts with using a 78dB parent signal that’s fed through the headphones, from there we measure how the headphones affect this signal across the audible spectrum. Starting from 20 to 60 Hz, which is the sub-bass range of the spectrum, the relative volume compared to our parent signal goes up to 90dB, an increase that makes sub-bass over twice as loud as the parent signal.
When you get to the bass range (60–300Hz) the emphasis eases off by 10dB. These notes still have plenty boost—especially compared to the rest of the spectrum—but won’t have as much emphasis as the very deep sounds of the sub-bass range. As we head into the midrange frequencies (300Hz–2kHz) the relative volume is much closer to our parent signal and fluctuates between 70 and 80dB, with a slight boost in between 1 and 2kHz. The frequency response doesn’t fluctuate too much in the high mids and doesn’t have another substantial spike until 8kHz and 10kHz, which go to 76 and 81dB respectively.
In short: Music played through the Modes will enjoy a healthy boost of sub-bass and bass, but not enough to completely drown out the rest of the audible spectrum.
The results of our distortion test is nothing short of incredible. When we perform the test we generally don’t want to see anything higher than 3%, which is the amount when it starts to become audible to average human ears. The total amount of audible distortion across the spectrum doesn’t even reach 1%. After sub-bass, the percentage of distortion typically sticks closely between.1 and.4%. It’s much more likely that any distortion you hear with the Modes is in your imagination and not actually in the headphones or the song was mixed that way.
A lot of emphasis for headphones is based on how they sound, but that can often come down to a matter of opinion based on the music you enjoy. Isolation is an important factor that many consumer don’t consider when they’re shopping.
Isolation measures how much outside sound is prevented from reaching your ears when you’d rather be listening to music or a podcast. If you’re purchasing in-ears, you’ll have a leg up on the competition as the sleeves create a seal that is, generally, better at locking in sound as well.
The most important part of the spectrum to lower the relative volume of is the bass range that makes up the sounds of things like the engines of trains or buses. The Modes do a good job of dropping the relative volume of these sounds by half. As the frequency of the audible spectrum increases and heads into the midrange the relative volume of outside sounds drops to a 1/4 of it’s total around 600Hz, and then 1/8 at 1kHz, before reaching 1/16 its original volume at 2kHz.
You aren’t likely to encounter a lot of sounds in your average day that hang out in the frequencies of 1kHz and higher. But any that you do come across will be dropped to almost imperceptible levels for the average listener.
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