Last week we posted our review of House of Marley’s Liberate XLBT Bluetooth headphones. Today we bring you something else from the House of Marley, this time we take a look at and offer our thoughts on the portable Bluetooth Chant speaker. We’ve reviewed quite a few Bluetooth speakers in the past, and our House of Marley Chant speaker review takes a look at how this one bearing a reggae legend’s name stacks up against the competition.
House of Marley prides itself on using superior quality components and has an Earth-friendly attitude as part of their company principles. One definitely gets a feel for that when unboxing the Chant speaker for the first time. I will say one thing though, given their commitment to being Earth-friendly and “working for a better world”, the inclusion of a 130+ page instruction book which is pretty much the first thing you see when opening the box – albeit small (4″ x 3 1/2″) – was a bit unnecessary especially considering the English section was only 7 pages long. Even the USB charging cable was tied with a piece of recycled string, so it did seem odd to include such a thick instruction booklet and accompanying warranty information.
As for the actual unit itself, the speaker is contained within a carry bag made out of House of Marley’s REWIND™ fabric which is comprised of reclaimed hemp, organic cotton, and recycled plastic bottles. The carrying bag looks sharp with the House of Marley logo embroidered on the top with green/yellow/red stitching just below the zipper. A pair of cut outs in the case near the bottom expose the mini-USB charging port, mic, AUX input, as well as vents for the speaker. The choice of mini-USB is an interesting one given the proliferation of micro-USB these days, and the included cable is very short (9″ not including the ends). The case design also includes a loop to attach the included carabiner clip, and is finished off with a green/yellow/red “flag” tab near the bottom.
Unzipping the carry bag exposes the top of the speaker. The speaker grille covers a large portion of the top and is embossed with the House of Marley logo. A silver plastic ring surrounds it with an inset on/off button switch and the top and edge is finished off with a nice natural bamboo finish. Pulling the speaker out reveals that the rest of the speaker is enclosed in a plastic shell. The lid of the carry bag has a little pouch on the inside in which the included mini-USB cable fits nicely. One thing I’ve noticed on a few recent Bluetooth speakers we’ve received for review is the absence of volume control buttons on the unit. The Chant speaker doesn’t have them either, and while it is nice sometimes to have the controls right on the speaker it wasn’t an issue just controlling the volume from my phone when streaming to the speaker.
Overall, the Chant speaker is nicely designed, and I really like the style and design of the bag. The included carabiner clip is a nice touch as well and the fact that it is constructed using recycled plastics and metals and uses Forest Stewardship Council-certified natural bamboo wood is something to consider for the environmentally inclined.
For a small speaker, this thing sounds amazing. The biggest issue with most small portable Bluetooth speakers is they lack a bit on the bass spectrum, or really start to distort when at high volumes. Even when the volume on my phone was set to max, the sound remained crisp and the bass output was more than acceptable for a speaker this size with very little distortion. The little distortion there was could only be heard when standing right beside the speaker, and wasn’t noticeable as you moved away from the speaker. I threw every type of music at it that I could think of (except country *shudder*), starting with some Bob Marley tunes first of course, and each genre sounded great once I tuned up the equalizer function in the Google Play Music app.
The House of Marley Chant speaker is easy to use. Connecting a device to it via Bluetooth is as easy as turning the speaker on, then going into the Bluetooth settings on your phone, tablet, or computer and selecting Chant as the device to pair with. I didn’t have any issues with disconnecting and once it was paired to my phone it was quick to pair up whenever I turned the speaker on.
A secondary function of the Chant speaker is being able to use it as a speakerphone for incoming calls while connected to your smartphone. Answering an incoming call is easy enough from your phone, and the incoming call sound is clear. As with other speakers that include this functionality, the closer you are to the microphone when speaking the better for added clarity on the receiving end.
Everything about this speaker is quality… except for battery life. While the battery life isn’t bad, it is on the lower end of the scale when it comes to portable Bluetooth speakers. House of Marley claims 6 hours of battery life on a single charge, and I did indeed get pretty close to it. That being said, 6 hours isn’t enough to get you through a day of working in the yard or relaxing on the beach. I do suspect that battery trade off on the speaker does come due to its excellent sound quality so you’ll want to take that into consideration.
Priced at $69.99USD ($99.99CAD), the Chant Bluetooth speaker is definitely worth the money. It’s well built, and the carry bag is a great bonus feature which really adds value to the already low price. I’m not sure why there is the price difference between USD/CAD so if you’re in Canada you’ll probably want to order it through Amazon and you’ll end up paying a bit less.
Great design, Earth-friendly attitude, and excellent sound all wrapped up in a nice little speaker backed by the name of one of music’s all time legends, the House of Marley Chant Bluetooth portable speaker is one I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a portable speaker solution.