House of Marley has some of the most interesting looking designs for headphones I have seen in a while. I’m not just talking about the fact that they strive to use earth friendly materials in all of their designs – I’m talking about the whole artistic package. Just by looking at them one can see that they put a lot of emphasis on “fun”; something that a lot of other headphone manufacturers have forgotten about. The feeling you get when holding one of these (and then further, by wearing them), is that company namesake Bob Marley would have been proud of what they were doing.
The Stir It Up model (named after the song of the same – in fact all of their headphones are named after a Marley song) is definitely one of the best looking model that House of Marley has put out – the others are really nice as well, but there is just something about this model that spoke to me. Maybe it was the FCC certified beech wood on the ear cups (after all, how many other headphones will give your ears wood?), or the pin stripes in the colors of the Rastafarian flag, or maybe it was the design of the canvas top – I’m not sure I can even narrow it down to one of those, but I knew from first glance that these were the headphones for me. Then I saw the little canvas pouch that they are stored in, and I was completely sold on the style. I used to go to little music festivals in New York (The Great Blue Heron and Grass Roots), and I would be equally comfortable wearing these there amongst the “hippies” as I would in a board room. I feel that the design speaks enough to be valued by everyone.
However this is a pair of headphones we are talking about, and not the latest piece of art. While the design is out of this world phenomenal, if the sound isn’t on par then they aren’t worth anything. Thankfully though, these beauties have no problem at all putting out good sound. I went through my usual testing mix of different blends of music to see how they all fared when being pumped through the 40mm moving coiled drivers of the Stir it Up headphones, and the results were as out of this world as the design. With other headphones (even high end models) I could plug them into my iPhone and ramp the volume to max without it being too loud for my tastes. When the Stir It Up ‘phones were on my head though, I had to back off the volume to just over 50%, because my ears literally could not take it. At the 50% level I could keep on my head, the sound was absolutely pristine. No distortion, no washing out – all of the sounds from highs to lows came through with crystal clarity.
Not content to just leave things alone at 50% volume, I decided to run a few more tests. Since I couldn’t keep them on my head at max without fear of permanent hearing damage, I put the Stir It Up headphones around my neck. Now it definitely says something when you have a pair of headphones on your neck and someone from across the room you are in can hear everything. I’m not just talking about faintly hearing some of a song you know and letting your mind fill in the rest – I tried this with a podcast and the person I tested with was able to recite what transpired verbatim. Now I am not saying a podcast is music, but being able to hear voices so clearly from so far away (it was fifteen feet) was impressive to say the least. As for actual music at the 100% volume level, the results were just as good as at the 50% level. I’m not going to claim to understand how House of Marley made these drivers work so well, but even at full blast there was no discernible distortion at any level.
While my experience was majorly positive with the Stir It Up headphones, I did have a few smaller issues. For one, while they were comfortable enough in the short run, listening to them for over two hours put a little discomfort on my temples. Now I think this was just because they weren’t “broken in” enough, because as I wore them the problem seemed to disappear – but the first few times gave me a headache from hell. The bigger problem that I had though was with the cord. I had numerous times that the sound in one cup would cut out unless I wiggled the cord in which case everything was hunky dory again. I don’t know if this was just my cord, or a manufacturing defect – I switched the included one with another I had and there was no more issues. The last thing isn’t so much of a problem but just something to remember – you get what you pay for. You can’t expect to get a pair of headphones that are of this quality for some change – but I will say that compared to other headphones in the same price range (like some of the Beats cans I’ve tried out), the Stir It Up headphones blow them away.
The Bottom Line: The Stir It Up line might be the second highest priced headphones that House of Marley makes, but they are by far the best headphones I have ever had the pleasure of using.
- The sound that the Stir it Up headphones puts out is unparalleled
- Saying these are extremely stylish is the understatement of the year – they easily compliment any apparel
- House of Marley products support 1Love, the Marley family charitable organization so you can feel like you are giving back by buying them
- Until they get broken in long wear can be painful
- You may need to replace the included cable as I did
You can pick yourself up a pair of Stir It Up Headphones from the House of Marley for $199.99
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