When the House of Marley range of headphones launched last year, it wasn't hard to see where the idea came from. While the Marley foundation might claim a subtle blend of Rastafarian roots and sound quality that could really do justice to Bob Marley's tunes, it was clearly a reaction to the dramatic increase in popularity of style-driven headphones. Cynical? Maybe, but Jah alone can only get you so far.
The House of Marley Rise Up headphones mark an optimisation of the commercial direction of the range. They are full-size over-ears headphones, but are a good deal cheaper than the House of Marley Destiny TTR headphones we assessed last year. Set to sell for under £130, they're significantly more accessible than the metal, noise cancelling TTR cans.
They keep much of what helped to differentiate the first wave of House of Marley headphones from the competition, though. The House of Marley Rise Up cans are made of materials with more of a self-consciously natural bent than most.
Hemp-style canvas, recycled aluminium and either bamboo fibre or leather effect earpads are the order of the day. House of Marley's repetition of terms like “natural” and “recycled” tell you much of what the brand is going for.
These aren't headphones cobbled together out of bits found at the bottom of the recycling bin, though. Like the House of Marley TTR, the Rise Up headphones are thoroughly well-constructed, able to stand up to their £100-odd rivals, build quality-wise.
House of Marley's latest range for 2013 also gives more aesthetic options for those who aren't completely in love with the colours of the Rastarafian flag. There is a decent-looking set bearing the flag's colours, but there are more muted grey and brown-toned Rise Up pairs too.
The hardware design is more accessible too. These headphones are designed not to stick too far out from your ears, they provide decent noise isolation and they're much, much lighter than the metal-bodied House of Marley TTR, too. These headphones want to be worn out on the street, and from our hand-on with them, we think they'll take on your morning commute with ease. Although they don't leave masses of room for larger earlobes, they're fairly comfy cans.
Their portability is boosted by the accessible in tow too. There's a three-button remote that sits on the fabric-braided cable, and a carry case is included too. It's a shame they don't offer removeable cables, though, as this would further increase their flexibility, letting you plug in a longer cable when at home.
What hasn't changed a great deal is the House of Marley signature sound.
The House of Marley Rise Up use 50mm dynamic drivers, larger than the 40mm type we're used to seeing in headphones of this type. These are rich-sounding, bass-heavy headphones that favour impact and warmth over accuracy or critical detailing.
Like the House of Marley TTR, the bass can seem a little over-egged at times. However, there isn't the “wall of sound” flattening effect we've heard in some of the Beats-range headphones. We'll be back with more impressions and the final verdict in our full review.