kepticism was abound when the House of Marley offered to send over their Bag of Riddim. It’s a $300 Bluetooth speaker system that is finished with a variety of natural elements that include hemp (no conicedensce there), cotton and recycled plastics. And yet, the face of the Bag of Riddim is made of birch wood, which adds some opulence but seems to defeat the intended eco effects of the recycled material. Moreover, their eco friendly strides are slightly squashed by the battery bay which calls for 6 D batteries. Hardly eco friendly, unless of course you opt to invest in a set of rechargeable batteries or buy the company’s sold separately rechargeable battery pack. And while the Bag of Riddim may not score big points for being landfill friendly (at least at a glance), it most certainly has a way of pleasing the ears.
The Bag of Riddim comes in two models. One includes an iPhone 4s dock, and the other Bluetooth connectivity. Neither have both, and because of that I prefer the Bluetooth version, which is the one I tested. Why? No matter what phone I have in my possession, be it an iPhone of any model, or an Android or Windows device, this speaker will remain compatible. Moreover, Bluetooth means wireless, and wireless equates to convenience. That said, both units include an AUX input, which means any audio device, regardless of wireless connectivity, can jack into this stereo box.
Now, I’ll get to sound quality soon enough. But first and foremost I have to get something off my chest: I loathe the product’s name. “Bag of Riddim” makes me cringe when I say it, hear it, or have to write about it in this post.
Also, I’m not too keen on the bag’s design, materials and styling. In hand it feels a bit cheap. Perhaps it’s best described as feeling too light weight to produce a descent spectrum of sound (more on this in a minute). Nevertheless, attached to the body, by way of a set of snap buttons (as found on a pair of old jean pants), is a bag styled in image of a Bob Marley CD cover. It includes a few of pockets as well as a shoulder strap. To remove the bag, you simply just need to unbutton it, which reveals its rather thin (read: cheap) feeling, black plastic body. It’s a stark contrast to the speaker’s wood face, but with that comes a sturdier, lighter, more durable build. I’m still rather surprised that a built-in rechargeable battery isn’t included, especially when the bag is clearly designed to be carried around slung over your shoulder. Mind you it’s not too large or heavy to negate an average sized person from performing such an activity.
On the face of the Bag of Riddim are a four touch like buttons that control power, volume and Bluetooth connectivity. They’re positioned in a circle along a plastic black ring and are joined by power and Bluetooth indicator lights. Powering on the Bag of Riddim is as simple as touching the power button, or so one would assume. Unfortunately my review unit’s power button, along with the rest of the touch buttons were about as sensitive as a concrete block, requiring me to tap them again and again to illicit a response.
To test the Bag of Riddim I powered on my Nexus 4′s Bluetooth and paired the two devices. Once paired I had no problem reconnecting the Bag of Riddim with my phone, provided I could get it powered on. Spotify is my music source of choice, so with that in mind I ran the Bag of Riddim through the paces, testing it with a wide swath of genres of tunes.
Bass is ample, yet not overly deep, which generally speaking can cause the housing to reverberate – it doesn’t. The “high”, while not hiss free or the cleanest is by all account respectable. The sound stage of the bag is by no means equitable to that of stand alone stereo system, but given the products rather small size and portability I’m still impressed. Moreover, it’s got enough juice and gusto that it makes it a favorable suitor in its class of speakers.
Bottom line: a well rounded Bluetooth speaker system that sonically performs quite well despite the distasteful name and abysmal touch buttons.