- Interesting looks
- Decent build
- Flabby, bloated bass
- "Interesting" looks
- Review Price: £39.99
- Rastafarian flag cable
- Real wood and metal construction
- Right-angle jack
- Mic and iOS remote control housing
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.
The House of Marley Jammin’ range is home to the lower-end, slightly more interesting-looking earphones that Bob Marley has posthumously blessed us with. The People Get Ready buds differentiate themselves successfully with their look, but don’t fare so well on sound.
Point one on their agenda seems to be to pump out as much bass as possible, and from a very limited perspective they succeed here. However, it’s to the detriment of the sound as a whole.
The bass is big and fat, but is not of particularly good quality. It dominates the sound too often, booming out in a way that’s less “in da club” and more waiting outside the club in the cold, listening to the subwoofer thudding through the walls. The mids and high-end aren’t left an entirely muffled mess, but when a bass guitar will thud over a lead vocal in the mix, it’s a poor consolation.
Given the right kind of music, the bass will sound great to some ears, though. Although not hugely deep or taut (not an expectation at the price), it lends an exciting weight to beat-led dance music. However, it can boom unpleasantly, which never sounds good – even when masses of bass is desirable – as it can rob tracks of their pace and urgency.
The warm, bass-heavy sound does help to wipe-out any harshness, making for a less fatiguing listen than you’d get from a top-heavy pair, but we found we had to keep the volume reasonably low to avoid wearing our ears out with the over-eager bass. Each time we try to find something to like about the sound, there’s a reason to counter it. Think you’re a basshead? Give these a shot, if you dare.
However, better sound can be found elsewhere, for the same or less expenditure. The Soundmagic E10 offer a taughter bass response and greater clarity for five pounds less – but, granted, won’t win you any inquisitive looks from passers-by. They’re pretty bland-looking. Failing that, the Jays a-JAYS Four supply plenty of bass without bombarding your ears until your cochlea rattles off into your skull, and they look fairly attractive as well.
If you demand interesting-looking designs from your earphones, you’ll often come a cropper, especially at this price. A comparison to the image-conscious Skullcandy here is not unfounded, as, like that popular headphone brand, the People Get Ready earphones seem to place greater emphasis on style than sound.
The House of Marley Jammin’ People Get Ready earphones represent one of the cheapest ways to get a pair “endorsed” by a famous name – Bob Marley in this case. If that’s not what you care about most, you can do much better for £40. The booming bass dominates in an often uncomfortable way, and detail is unremarkable. They look interesting and are well-built, but that’s not enough for us.
Score in detail
Design & Features 8
Sound Quality 5
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