House of Marley's Smile Jamaica review: These headphones drop the bass

CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.8
  • Design: 9.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 6.0
  • Value: 9.0

Average User Rating

3 stars 2 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The House of Marley Smile Jamaica headphones feature amazing build quality for a very small price. The bass response is full without becoming "one note" or bloated. The features are well-thought-out with a one-button mic remote, which works for iOS and Android and a fabric wrapped cord.

The Bad The bass can unduly dominate rock music or pop music. Other headphones have greater sparkle or detail. The cable can be microphonic.

The Bottom Line Like many celebrity-endorsed headphones, the House of Marley Smile Jamaica has a bass-heavy response, but an excellent price and build elevate it above its peers.

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House of Marley is a relatively new entrant in the world of headphones, arriving at the end of 2011 and one of a crop of headphones using a celebrity musician -- in this case Bob Marley. Our resident audiophiliac, Steve Guttenberg, liked what he heard of the flagship Stir It Up headphones, but the range begins fairly modestly with the Smile Jamaica earbud with remote, which retails for just $29.99.

While all earbuds look pretty much alike, it's fair to say that the Smile Jamaicas are unique -- even if just from a construction point of view. I can think of no other that uses wood in its earpieces that doesn't charge hundreds of dollars at the same time. The fact these headphones are around $30 is insane! The headphones use sapele, which is a sustainable African wood used also in the manufacture of guitars. The headphone is capped by an aluminum piece (red in the case of the Rasta version), which holds the driver and earbud in place. The headphones are marked with L/R, but this is easy to miss in anything but a well-lit room.

The headphones feature lurid green eartips, but they can't be seen when worn Sarah Tew/CNET

The headphone cable is covered with a fabric wrap in a four-color Jamaican scheme and terminates in one of the best strain relief plugs I have ever seen. The 3.5mm plug inserts at a 90-angle and is further reinforced so that there is no flex whatsoever. Having had many pairs of much more expensive headphones fail at the jack, this type of build quality is very welcome.

The headphone jack has one of the best stress relief systems we've seen. Sarah Tew/CNET

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Where to Buy

House of Marley Smile Jamaica (1 Button, Fire)

Part Number: EM-JE001-FI
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Regional specs shown for US. UK specs are unavailable.

  • Color fire
  • Sound Output Mode stereo
  • Additional Features gold plated connectors
  • Type headset
  • Headphones Form Factor in-ear
  • Connector Type mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm 4-pole