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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

House of Marley Chant Bluetooth review: a portable wireless speaker for eco-warriors


House of Marley is all about Earth-friendly audio products, and the Chant Bluetooth is a small wireless speaker that's designed to be both portable and convenient.

It's made from recycled plastic, and the carry case uses crushed recycled bottles mixed with reclaimed hemp and organic cotton. A ring of wood around the top, plus the House of Marley logo embossed in the speaker grille add an air of sophistication.



Don't mix up the Chant and Chant Bluetooth: only the latter is wireless. The cheaper Chant looks the same, but doesn't have Bluetooth or a built-in microphone for use as a hand-free speakerphone.

Also, you don't get a choice of colours: the Chant Bluetooth comes in a grey case, while the Chant get the more attractive (we think) 'harvest' green colour.

Build quality is very good, as is the design. The top of the case unzips when you want to listen to music, and a handy karabiner means you can clip the speaker onto a rucksack for audio on the go.

It's simple to pair a Bluetooth device such as a smartphone, but there's also a standard minijack input for playing music from other devices.

The internal battery is lasts around six hours and is charged via a mini USB cable. No mains charger is included: any PC USB port will do, or your smartphone's USB charger.


Inside the Chant Bluetooth is a 2in driver and a passive 2in 'bass radiator'. As there's no AptX support, audio is transmitted via the standard Bluetooth codec.

This isn't a huge problem as the Chant doesn't produce top-notch sound quality even when you connect a device using the bundled cable. The 2in driver, despite being larger than the speakers in other portable speakers, simply wasn't able to deliver a full-bodied sound.

Bass is relatively weak, and mid-tones (such as vocals and guitars) sounded muddy in comparison with the i-box Twist.

Volume levels are reasonable enough - it will fill a small room with sound - but there are no playback controls on the Chant itself, so you'll have to use your device to adjust the volume.

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