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Celebrity-endorsed products are often abused by audiophiles, but their value in reaching a wider audience and educating them about the benefits of superior sound quality cannot be ignored. At the forefront of these brands is The House of Marley, founded by reggae legend Bob Marley’s family, which releases audio products they claim are based on his same environmental and philanthropic beliefs. So far this has proven to be an extremely successful combination.
Bob Marley Speakers
The Bag of Rhythm is the first iPod/iPhone dock from The House of Marley, and as you’d expect, it’s unmistakably unique. There’s no doubt that more than any other dock we’ve seen recently, the Bag of Rhythm, which launched on the money with the arrival of summer, is pushing its role as a portable sound system in the form of ghetto blasters.
House Of Marley Get Together Mini Bluetooth Wireless Speaker
For (literally) porting from the dock, it’s completely contained in an earthy canvas bag with hand and shoulder carry handles. This fits snugly, attaches to the dock with push buttons and there are holes to prevent the power port and bass output from being blocked. Further pushing its outdoor life claims are useful pockets on both sides and a khaki color scheme with plenty of requisite references to the Rastafarian flag.
As for the dock itself, it looks a bit like a skateboard attached to bongs and continues the naturalistic outdoor theme. The top is birch, the casing is made from recycled plastic, and the speakers in particular face the ceiling, which assumes they will be placed below you on the ground. Connectivity is kept to a minimum with only a 3.5mm auxiliary jack, no wireless connectivity (Bluetooth or AirPlay) and a convenient iPhone/iPod dock to prevent the connected device from falling out on the go (except iPads). Controls are also kept to a minimum with only the power, volume up and volume down buttons.
Batteries keep Bag of Rhythm moving. It takes at least six D-type batteries (not included), which according to The House of Marley last up to six hours. What is worth noting is the weight these batteries add. The shoulder strap makes the Bag of Rhythm relatively easy to carry, but at 6.8kg and around 100-150g per battery (depending on type), you’re looking at a product weighing around 7.5kg.
So how about the sound itself? The Bag of Rhythm omits the dedicated bass driver, allowing for a 2.0 arrangement with a total output of 40 watts (20 watts per channel). It consists of two 4.5-inch woofers and two 1-inch tweeters. The House of Marley isn’t typically subtle when it comes to the sonic signature you can expect: “Using reggae music as the test on which all our products are built, bass is the first element we focus our attention on,” according to the website page. “The driving force is the bass. We want to hear it without distortion no matter how low it goes and we want it to hit hard. Each of our in-ear and on-ear headphones and speakers are made for the best-sounding reggae bass.”
Stir It Up Wireless Turntable
The obvious question is, is this a good thing? The answer is: not always. There’s certainly no denying that Bag of Rhythm sounds great when it’s on its own turf. The reggae blast is an exhilarating experience with fat bass, warm sound and (pun very much intended) bags of emotion. However, the problems start when you expose the dock to a wider acoustic climate.
In music where the bass is less pronounced, such as jazz, acoustic shows or classical music, the Bag of Sound struggles with clarity. It’s so eager to try to throw in the bass at the slightest hint of anything low-frequency that horns or an oboe in a classical composition can instantly overpower the rest of the instruments. Moreover, in more complex music, such as the soundscapes of post rock bands like Explosions in the Sky or Godspeed You Black Emperor, the Bag of Rhythm tries to fill the entire frequency range, creating a narrow sound without details.
These shortcomings are less apparent on bassy dance and hip-hop tracks, but – as with many docks – stereo separation is extremely limited and you need to carefully consider the type of music you’ll mainly be playing. You also need to consider how you will primarily use the Bag of Rhythm. While it’s tempting to dream of images of you lying in the park with your friends and the dock blaring next to you, you’ll probably spend a lot of time in the house, and unless you put the dock on the floor, its ceiling-facing speakers aren’t ideal. placed for home listening. There’s a reason all internal docks have their speakers positioned horizontally.
As for battery life, it’s difficult to judge. Your mileage will vary depending on the type of batteries purchased, playback volume, and even the type of music played, but four hours or more should be achievable for everyone. One frustration is that the dock doesn’t charge the rechargeable batteries when plugged in. This makes sense as it wouldn’t be possible to distinguish between rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries, but since you have to remove the dock from the canvas bag to remove them, the operation is a bit of a chore. A damper or panel would be more suitable for power and bass outputs.
House Of Marley Get Together Duo Review
There are other frustrations. Without a mute button, the volume controls are very slow to respond, taking 20 seconds to mute from maximum. This would be just as frustrating at the park or at home when the phone rings. It would also be nice if The House of Marley included a remote control or even basic Bluetooth wireless connectivity without leaving your iPhone somewhat exposed in public.
Finally we come to the price. Like any fashion brand, there comes a premium, and at a penny under £300, the Bag of Rhythm is no impulse buy. If you’ll be using it mostly at home, then the £250 Monitor Audio i-deck 200 offers significantly better sound quality for less money, and at £350 the Arcam rCube also has excellent sound, as well as a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts up to eight hours in the 80-watt 2.1 dock that weighs only 5 kg.
Meanwhile, for those who require true portability, the £85 Pasce Minirig weighs just over 400g, has 15W of output, sounds amazing and lasts up to 60 hours – we’d buy two and link them together. Faced with these options, there’s little reason to get your Jammin’ here.
House of Marley came out of the blocks and flying. Her products have a unique but instantly recognizable style, and the environmental and philanthropic beliefs she espouses are refreshing. Sadly, Bag of Sound is a case of style over substance. Its reggae-centric sonic signature makes it harsh towards other forms of music with piercing bass and a lack of detail. Weighing in at over 7.5kg with batteries, it’s heavy even with a shoulder strap, lacks wireless connectivity and, at 40W, isn’t all that powerful for a dock of this size. On the surface, Bag of Rhythm is a breath of fresh air, but in reality it’s beaten down by the competition. Will it cater to its youthful target market? We suspect not.
House Of Marley Unveil It’s Loudest Speaker Ever
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House Of Marley Bag Of Riddim Bluetooth Speaker Review
A Bluetooth speaker is as much a statement of personal style as a watch. Actually, let’s go with this analogy. A person who buys a Bang & Olufsen owns his own watch winder and more than one Tag Heuer to wind. A person who opts for one of those indestructible fish-branded black boxes dug up in an Amazon search tends to favor the G Shock. The Ultimate Ears listener is an Apple Watch SE user, and you’ve never heard of the watch brand a Sonos owner wears on his wrist, but you know it looks nice.
In all seriousness, the market is flooded with Bluetooth speaker options, many of which are very good. But too much remains somewhat of an obstacle
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