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The House of Marley Bag of Rhythm review: The House of Marley Bag of Rhythm

Although it's fairly pricey, the House of Marley Bag of Rhythm is a quality portable boom box that throws out a lot of sound for its size.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Mobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
3 min read

Say ya, mon to The House of Marley Bag of Rhythm, a jammin' iPhone/iPod boom box that comes with its own rasta-esque canvas carrying sack and a battery power option for mobile use.


The House of Marley Bag of Rhythm

The Good

The <b>House of Marley Bag of Rhythm</b> has a unique design and plays loud for its size, offering good detail and tight bass. It's equipped with a snap-on carrying bag and an integrated iPod/iPhone dock, and has a battery option for mobile use.

The Bad

It's fairly expensive; there's no wireless option (Bluetooth or otherwise); and it doesn't have a rechargeable battery, requiring six D-cell batteries for mobile use.

The Bottom Line

Although it's fairly pricey, the House of Marley Bag of Rhythm is a quality portable boom box that throws out a lot of sound for its size.

In case you've never heard of House of Marley, it's a newcomer to the audio electronics scene, and makes Bob Marley-inspired headphones, earphones, and other audio products like this boom box, an eye-catching piece that kicks out the tunes pretty hard with impressive sound quality.

I liked the design. The birch front makes you think skateboard -- or at least the bottom of one -- and the exterior housing is made out of eco-friendly recycled plastic.

As for the canvas carrying bag, it snaps on to the exterior of the unit and is removable. The Bag of Rhythm is not light, weighing in at 10 pounds, but can be carried on your shoulder using the strap that's integrated into the bag. Alternatively, the bag also has carrying handles, so you can tote the boom box around like a briefcase.

The sound was more impressive than I thought it would be. You can lay the unit on its side or tilt it up and have the speakers fire upward. Specs-wise, you're looking at twin 1-inch tweeters and 4.5-inch woofers in a ported enclosure. Power is rated at 32W; this thing plays loud, has tight bass, and offers good detail.

Closeup of the tweeter/woofer combo Sarah Tew/CNET

Overall, it's a well-balanced speaker, which is to say that it's got a fairly flat, natural-sounding profile. The bass is ample and has some good kick to it, but this doesn't thump it out like Monster Beats by Dr. Dre Beatbox, which retails for around the same price.

I played a variety of music, including some Bob Marley, and while it may not offer incredibly refined sound, the Bag of Rhythm's sound profile fits the intended use of the product as an on-the-go outdoor party system (it easily filled our fairly large test room with sound and works well outdoors).

The unit can be carried on your shoulder or like a briefcase. Sarah Tew/CNET

For better or worse, you don't get anything in the way of extra features. This is strictly an iPhone/iPod stereo docking system with no wireless capabilities. You do get an auxiliary input for connecting other MP3 players or smartphones, or any device that has an audio output.

Alas, the Bag of Rhythm doesn't include a rechargeable battery for mobile use. For those times when you can't plug it into a wall outlet (at the beach, for instance), you need to use six D batteries. Ideally, an eco-friendly stereo like this would have a rechargeable battery, and the company says it has one in the works, though I couldn't get a release date or a price (I will update the review once I get that information). In the meantime, of course, you could invest in a set of third-party rechargeables instead.

The dock accepts iPods and iPhones and acts as a charger. Sarah Tew/CNET

Our take
The House of Marley Bag Of Rhythm is fairly pricey at $349 list (you can get it for $299 online), but it is one of the best-sounding portable speakers we've heard in this price range. While it doesn't have the deep bass of the Monster Beats by Dr. Dre Beatbox, it has a more balanced sound. I liked the styling of the Beatbox as well, but this certainly makes a different kind of statement, and it does have the whole carrying-bag element to it (the Beatbox is designed to sit in a corner of a room to achieve maximum bass output).

The best deal in this category is still the Altec Lansing Mix BoomBox iMT810, another portable unit that delivers very good sound for around $200 (list price is $300). What you're paying for here is the Bag of Rhythm's unique design and strong performance. It's not going to wow anybody with its feature set, but this is overall a quality portable boom box that throws out a lot of sound for its size. I wish it had distinguished itself with a rechargeable battery option, but then it would have cost over $400, and I'd probably have complained more about it being overpriced.


The House of Marley Bag of Rhythm

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 8Value 6