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House of Marley Exodus ANC Review

A sustainable pair of headphones that deliver good sound and a clear conscience

Verdict

House of Marley’s latest pair of sustainable over-ears cost twice that of its next best pair and they certainly deliver. Despite a handful of design flaws, the Exodus ANC are a fantastic pair of headphones with impressive audio quality and decent noise cancellation.

Pros

  • Extensive battery
  • Sustainable design
  • Excellent sound quality

Cons

  • Frame is difficult to adjust
  • ANC could be stronger

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £199.99
  • Active Noise Cancellation
  • 80 hour battery life (28 hours with ANC)
  • Quick charge
  • 50mm hi-definition drivers
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • FSC certified wood
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The Exodus ANC are the first pair of ANC-equipped over-ears from eco-conscious audio brand House of Marley.

Staying up to date with the latest tech can come at a cost to the environment. The use of plastic and the waste created by old pairs of headphones been checked in the bin can have a more lasting effect than you might imagine.

House of Marley is a pioneer in manufacturing its products out of sustainable materials, and its latest headphones sees the company dip into new waters with its first noise-cancelling pair of cans – the Exodus ANC.

Related: Best noise-cancelling headphones

House of Marley Exodus ANC Design – Sustainable state of mind

House of Marley’s hallmark is its sustainable design, and these headphones don’t stray from that principle. The Exodus ANC are built from FSC certified wood, which means the wood used comes from forests that meet a number of strict environmental, social and economic standards as identified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Other materials used in the headphones include stainless steel and recyclable aluminium, while the soft carry case has also been consciously constructed. I’d prefer a hard case at this price, but that’s just a small note. House of Marley is a go-to audio brand for many eco-conscious buyers and I’m glad they’ve kept with this theme for their more premium sets.

While I love the sustainable design of the headphones, the metal frame does feel a little heavier on the head than others. The Bose QuietComfort 35 II, for example, have a plastic build that weighs 234g. The weight isn’t a huge barrier, but it might be something to consider.

Related: Best Bluetooth headphones

A big plus to is that they’re incredibly comfortable to wear. The headband and ear cups are soft thanks to padded memory foam ear cushions. The design is quite bulky, but it feels more like a design choice than an afterthought. My biggest qualm is that the headband is awkward to adjust to size. The Exodus ANC employs a sliding mechanism that I had to yank to get to fit the way I wanted. It’s also near-impossible to adjust the fit without taking the headphones off, which is inconvenient.

As far as controls go, the left ear cup houses the on/off button, ANC switch and 3.5mm jack. The volume/skip track buttons, Monitor Mode button and a USB-C charging port can be found on the right ear cup. Click the on/off button to answer and end calls or press and hold to turn the headphones on or off.

House of Marley Exodus ANC Features – Decent noise cancellation and plenty of playtime

What sets the Exodus ANC apart from House of Marley’s other headphones is the inclusion of active noise cancellation. While the ANC is by no means perfect, it’s a respectable first attempt for House of Marley. I noticed a big difference with ANC switched on, and it did an admirable job of turning conversation into a low murmur beneath the music.

The ANC does produce a slight hiss when there is no music playing, but they do a good job otherwise. I just wish the noise cancellation was a bit stronger.

Monitor Mode might be my favourite feature. The tiny ‘MM’ button turns music down, allowing you to temporarily listen to the outside world. It’s one of the most effective ambient sound features I’ve tried, allowing me to have crystal clear conversations without taking the Exodus ANC off. I can see this feature being really handy when listening into train announcements or ordering a coffee on your way into work.

The battery life was the feature that initially grabbed my attention when I first laid eyes on these headphones. The Exodus ANC offer an incredible 80 hours of playtime with ANC switched off. The biggest issue with this is that it makes the already decent 28 hours with ANC on sound less impressive – which it isn’t by any means.

28 hours is more than you’ll find on some of Bose and Sennheiser’s top headphones and I encountered no issues with the 28 hour battery. Even though I prefer to listen with ANC on, I can still see the 80 hours coming in handy for long journeys that offer less opportunities to charge up.

The quick charge feature is a nice addition too. While it takes three hours to charge the headphones fully, a swift ten minute charge on your way out the door will offer several hours of playback.

The Exodus ANC use Bluetooth 5.0 to maintain a stable connection and are fitted with 50mm hi-definition drivers.

House of Marley Exodus ANC Sound – Not too bassy

These headphones perform well and I wouldn’t expect any less for £200.

Brockhampton’s St. Percy shows off excellent detail definition from the get go with a good amount of bass extension and tonal balance. I was surprised to find this level of balance in a pair of Marley headphones considering how bass heavy the rest of the lineup is.

While the bass just about manages to dominate this track, the treble and mids are more than capable of holding their own and the bass is not nearly as overpowering as that in its own Liberate Air earbuds.

The treble in Van Morrison’s Into the Mystic is more defined, with the nimble guitar stealing the spotlight when it could easily duck behind the vocals.

The audio can suffer from distortion when the volume is pushed too high, but overall the performance does not disappoint.

Should you buy the House of Marley Exodus ANC?

If you’re after a sustainable pair of headphones that don’t sacrifice much in performance, the Exodus ANC are a good choice.

House of Marley’s first noise cancelling over-ears do an admirable job of keeping up with the competition with an eco-conscious twist. The audio performance is a big step-up for Marley, and the Monitor Mode is a great addition. The 80 hour battery is formidable too and quick charge is, as always, a bonus.

You may also want to take a look at the Philips PH805, which also offer 30 hours of listening, ANC and an even more tempting sub-£200 price.

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

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