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Circuit Breaker

Marshall adds noise canceling to its Bluetooth headphones with the Mid ANC

The sound of silence

The Marshall Mid ANC headphones are the latest from Marshall, which has been slowly building an entire lineup of headphones and more consumer-focused speakers by licensing its brand to Zound Industries. As the “ANC” in the same indicates, the new headphones are the first from Marshall to offer active noise canceling. It’s a welcome update to the company’s product lineup.

The Mid ANC look pretty much identical to the original Mid Bluetooth, aside from a new switch on the right ear that allows for toggling active noise canceling. Where the original Mid headphones had two passive noise-reduction microphones, the ANC model doubles the mic count to four, allowing for active noise cancellation. Turn it on, and most of the outside world will vanish, although it comes at a cost of about 30 percent less battery life. (Marshall claims 20 hours or so with noise canceling, or 30 hours without.)

Otherwise, you’ve got the same black leather vinyl finish, same brass highlights, and same overall design. Marshall has tweaked a few colors here and there and claims to have improved the hinge to make them a little more comfortable. Regrettably, the Mid ANC also still charge similarly to the Mid Bluetooth — via Micro USB, not USB-C.

I’ve been using the Mid ANC for a few days, including on subway rides and an international flight, and the noise cancellation does make a notable difference. The original Mid Bluetooth headphones were already pretty good at blocking out noise passively, but the active noise cancellation dramatically improves that ability, especially for neutralizing the omnipresent rumblings of a train or plane. It’s not quite the total sonic isolation that more expensive models from companies like Bose or Sony are able to provide, but the Mid ANC also cost less.

The biggest problem I had with the Mid ANC was the fit. They’re on-ear headphones, and after several hours of wearing them on a flight, I began to feel like my ears were getting crushed. That may just be personal preference, seeing as I generally prefer over-ear headphones to on-ear models, so your mileage may vary. Personally, I’m hoping that Marshall will find fit to also bring the active noise-canceling technology to its top-of-the-line over-ear Monitor Bluetooth headphones somewhere down the line.

The Marshall Mid ANC headphones are available today from Marshall Headphones for $269.