House of Marley’s Liberate Air are an environmentally conscious pair of true wireless earbuds at a well-judged price. While they're by no means flawless, they sound good and it would be difficult to find a pair of sustainable true wireless earphones at this price point.
- Sustainably made
- Long battery life
- Bass is overpowering
- Touch controls feel compromised in mono mode
- Review Price: £129.99
- Bluetooth 5.0
- 32 hours battery (with charging case)
- Voice assistant support
- Mono mode
What are the House of Marley Liberate Air?
Liberate Air are House of Marley’s first true wireless earbuds, with Bluetooth 5, a 32-hour battery life and support for voice assistants packed into these bamboo buds.
Whilst they’re not the cheapest wireless earbuds around, the Liberate Air undercut the likes of Apple, Sony and Samsung, offering up a sustainable pair of earbuds for those of us wracked with environmental guilt.
House of Marley Liberate Air design – Small and environmentally conscious
The House of Marley Liberate Air are small, oval-shaped earbuds. Sleek may not be the right description, but they’re certainly stylish.
Packing 5.6mm drivers, the feel of bamboo is ever-present with accents on the earbuds also acting as the touch controls. Each panel features a groove for tapping on alongside a House of Marley logo etched into the wood.
In terms of fit, the Liberate Air are super-comfortable. The headphones are inserted vertically and then rotated down until they fit snugly against the outer edge of the ear. If you find they’re not snug enough, then you’ll be pleased to learn that they come with three rubber ear-tip sizes ranging from small to medium and large.
A big selling point for the Liberate Air are the materials from which they’re constructed. House of Marley’s ethos is creating socially responsible products and these earbuds continue that philosophy by using a mixture of bamboo, aluminium and wood-fibre composite, as well as House of Marley’s signature REWIND fabric, which is composed of 100% recycled PET plastic.
As an added incentive, for every pair of Liberate Air earbuds bought, House of Marley will donate to global reforestation non-profit One Tree Planted.
House of Marley Liberate Air features – Good battery life, although Mono mode presents a few inconveniences
Setting up the earbuds is straightforward enough. Just open the case, pair one earbud via Bluetooth and a request for the second will follow.
With Quick Pairing, the earbuds automatically pair to your most recent device when taken out the case. While not a unique feature, Quick Pairing is certainly a nice, fuss-free perk.
If you want to listen to what’s around you, you’ll likely spend a lot of time in Mono mode. This feature uses just one earbud – left or right – and your device will automatically pair and move over all of the controls. Mono mode allows ambient sounds – from train announcements to coffee orders – to filter through, not to mention using one earbud could potentially save a bit of battery time, too.
Touch controls are simple and intuitive. A double-tap on the right plays/pauses music; and a triple-tap on either earbud navigates between tracks. If you get a call, double-tapping on the right earbud answers or ends the call, while a double-tap on the left declines.
These earbuds also support voice assistants. Tapping twice on the left activates Siri or Google Assistant, so questions can be asked and songs requested without having to pull out your phone.
Unfortunately, voice support becomes an annoyance rather than a convenience in Mono mode. The Liberate Air seems to prioritise such support over the playback controls, so a double-tap on either earbud wakes up the assistant instead of play/pausing your tunes, which grows frustrating.
Audio quality on calls is crisp and clear, although the Liberate Air stumbles again in Mono mode. With one earbud in, you can only answer; not decline. While this likely won’t be an issue for most, it’s easy to see Mono mode become tiring if you’re used to turning down unwanted calls with a tap of a finger.
You could use the Liberate Air for a workout. They fit well and have an IPX4 rating for sweat-resistance – but, while they didn’t slip out during a run, there are more suitable options available.
Battery life is excellent, with an impressive 9 hours of battery adding to a total of 32 hours with the charging case. The case itself feels sturdy and is small enough to fit comfortably into most pockets. Like the earbuds, the case is made from sustainable materials with magnets to keep the earbuds in place. They’re fast-charging too – with the Quick Charge function a 10-minute charge grants 4 hours of juice.
House of Marley Liberate Air performance – A fine performer that puts a premium on bass
The Liberate Air are a pleasant-sounding pair of headphones, and if you’re a bass lover then you’ll feel right at home.
In particular, they excel when tuned into Bob Marley’s tunes, lending themselves well to the bass notes. The dynamics of One Love are rendered well and the detail definition between the vocals, the high-hat cymbals and the bass is crisp and distinct.
That said, the earbuds tend to favour bass over all else, leading to poor tonal balance in some songs. Kamasi Washington’s take on Clair de Lune lacks detail in the upper range and the sax is missing crucial dynamism. The treble of the choir gets buried beneath the bass tones and the stereo image just ends up feeling cluttered.
Noise isolation is strong in the absence of any active noise cancellation (ANC). But if you feel strongly about audio fidelity, there are better true wireless options out there. Those after a pair of earphones for the commute or a journey to the shops won’t be disappointed with how they sound, however.
Should I buy the House of Marley Liberate Air?
The Liberate Air are House of Marley’s first pair of true wireless earbuds, delivering on the promise of being an eco-friendly pair of headphones.
They’re comfortable to wear and the bamboo details say “I care about sustainability” without compromising on style.
The audio is good – if heavy on bass – and with 9 hours of battery life, the price undercuts many of the bigger players on the market.
That said, if you’re on the lookout for a cheap pair of true wireless earbuds then you might also want to look into the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1, which have an equally impressive battery life and excellent audio for a cheaper price.
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