It’s not often that I sit and wait for a product to arrive so that I can finally review it. But since being introduced to the Bag of Rhythm at CES this past January, I’ve done just that. Today my review unit finally arrived and I was able to give it a thorough listening-to away from a trade show floor. What I’ve found is a modern interpretation of the old boomboxes, but with sound that most of them could have never accomplished. The fine points? Read on, my audio-loving friends.
The Bag of Rhythm is a beast of an audio system marketed by a company called House of Marley. If that name is familiar to you, it’s likely because you remember my review of the company’s in-ear headphones called Conqueror. The Cliff’s Notes version of House of Marley is that it’s an eco-friendly brand from its packaging to its product contents. It just so happens to make incredible sounding audio gear as well.
But now back to the bag at hand. Taking it out of the box you’ll be greeted with a device that weighs in at 14 pounds (6.8 kg) before you add the optional 6 D-cell batteries. Yes, batteries. Remember, I told you that this is a modern-day boombox. You can choose to power it via an included wall adapter, but the batteries let you take the party with you, and will last for about 5 hours of continuous use at higher volumes.
That weight comes with good reasons behind it however. You have two 4.5-inch drivers, plus a pair of 1-inch tweeters. There’s a 40 watt (20 per channel) amplifier powering the sound, so chalk that into the weight figure as well. On the top, in the middle, you’ll see an iPod/iPhone dock, and an accessory input. So no worries if you don’t have an iOS device, the opening is plenty big enough for most phones to rest in, while keeping the accessory cable plugged in. If you do have an iPhone or iPod, and the Bag of Rhythm is plugged in, it will charge your device for you.
At an MSRP of $349 this is no lightweight in the purchase category either. You’re going to have to justify to yourself whether or not the Bag of Rhythm is worth the price, but I can tell you with zero uncertainty that it sounds like a device should sound at this price point.
In its upright position, the Bag of Rhythm fills a room wonderfully and its side-mounted bass ports help to bring out the low end better than any other device I’ve heard of its size. If you so choose you can set the bag on its side and fire the speakers forward. The dock does just fine holding your device safely in place.
Oh, and this thing gets loud. Incredibly loud. The House of Marley has spent some good money on a clean, resourceful amplifier and high volumes is where the company’s amplifier and speaker choices really shine. In my testing, across a variety of musical choices, only the lowest of bass notes would cause the system to sound less than stellar at high volumes. So unless you happen to be a big fan of Drum & Bass, Dubstep or 808 bass chances are you’re not going to run into the same.
If you’re not a fan of the Rasta-industrial design of the Bag of Rhythm, House of Marley will soon have another option for you. Its Get Up Stand Up speaker system is comprised of the same speakers, the same 40-watt amplifier, but housed in a lovely wooden base that would look great on any shelf. Oh, and it’s priced exactly the same, at $350.
If you’ve been longing for some killer sounding audio gear that you can sling over your shoulder and take to the beach or the park, the Bag of Rhythm is here to answer your call. Equally at home in your house or on a picnic table, it’s a party in a bag and it’s definitely going onto my wishlist.