Bob Marley was a bit of a dude - it's something most people would agree on. But we bet you'd never think he'd get into the ring with Dr. Dre in a one-on-one sparring match. With the new Bob-branded House of Marley range of headphones and earphones, he kinda has - they offer a direct alternative to the hugely popular Dre Beats range. Available across the country in high street stores, earphones like the Jammin' People Get Ready set are out there to sell celebrity-endorsed earphones to the masses.
Of course, any celebrity branding of an audio product is necessarily problematic. It tells you that a significant chunk of a product's budget has gone into this branding rather than R&D, implying that the sound-per-pound ratio can't be all that good. The House of Marley Jammin' People Get Ready make a good start, though, with an easy-to-digest £40 price.
Like the rest of the House of Marley range, the People Get Ready buds use "natural" materials, staying away from the all-plastic designs that we're used to. Much of the outer body is stained wood, and the little gold disc bearing the House of Marley logo on the back is made of metal. These are some of the most outlandish-looking earphones in the whole range, but using these kinds of raw materials at this price is pretty impressive. And they certainly are colourful.
The wood grain is clearly visible, there's a red metal band separating the two halves of each bud and given how "out there" the design is compared with the earphone norm, they look pretty good. Not our cup of tea, perhaps, but we can see how some reggae-loving whippersnappers may appreciate it.
The look extends to the noise isolating silicone tips too. They're traditional in shape but are dyed an attractive deep red colour that matches the dark brown wood shade well. Like the other House of Marley headphones, the cable is covered with braided fabric featuring the colours of the Rastafarian flag. They're probably even more provocative than most of the similarly-priced offerings from Skullcandy - the 50/50 earphones are perhaps the closest - but they're a lot more tasteful than Skullcandy's Jamaican-themed editions, which are lurid.
Build quality is pretty good throughout. The right-angle 3.5mm jack feels tough, and while the buds are lightweight, they should survive all but being stamped on. There is one potential weak point, which is the insubstantial spot of rubberised plastic that guides the cable's route into the earpiece - but we experienced no problems during our testing.
On top of the eye-catching styling, you also get a useful, if slightly large, remote control and handsfree housing. This features three buttons. When listening to music on an iPod or iPhone they control volume and act as a play/pause button, as well as taking calls when one comes through your iPhone.