I got the chance to enjoy some quality time with the House of Marley Redemption Song headphones over the past couple of weeks. The company produces nine different on ear headphones, these sit right at the top of the range.
Build, Quality and Aesthetics
What impressed me most about the Redemption Song OE headphones was the construction quality. We live in a throwaway world, but these headphones feel like they will last forever. There is just enough weight to make them feel substantial without making them feel heavy. The choice of environmentally sustainable materials reflects what we see in the rest of the House of Marley range: “FSC certified beech wood, recyclable aluminum, responsibly tanned leather, and durable canvas.” It comes together beautifully and the beech wood provides a great contrast to the dark leather. Every part of the headphones has the same quality feel, right down to the controller – the attention to detail was absolutely impeccable. The implementation of the Rastafarian color scheme on the headband and fabric covered cord is nice and understated – taken too far it could look tacky, but House of Marley really nailed the balance… ten out of ten for presentation.
The headphones also came with their own heavy-duty canvas case. While I don’t normally use headphone cases, I have definitely found myself using this one.
I wear glasses in my day-to-day life so on ear headphones can be a little uncomfortable. What happens is that the headphones press into your ears and then your ears press into the arms of your glasses and you get a dull pain that goes away instantly when the headphones are removed.
With the Redemption Song OE headphones, this issue was still present – less pronounced than I have experienced in the past – but there. The ear cushions are very, very soft but they are counterbalanced by a very stiff headband. The first week of wear was a little tough, but they wore in and it improved. I am fairly certain that with a little more wear the minor level of discomfort caused by the tight headband will disappear altogether.
UPDATE: I ended up stretching the headband out with my hands – problem solved.
The most important part, the sound, we have saved until last. These headphones stood up to everything that I could throw at them – from deep, dark and dirty dubstep to reggae, to opera, to classical – I even through some. I used them with both MP3 and FLAC and they handled everything with aplomb. The bass was strong but a little mellower and less distracting than one would find in a pair of Beats.
The sound quality during calls was also noteworthy. Like many iPhone-friendly headphones these days, the Redemption Song OEs come with an onboard microphone. I used it with regular calls, Skype and Viber and was really pleased with the voice clarity through the microphone.
As far as isolation levels go, House of Marley really nailed it here. They do a great job of blocking out other sounds. People will still be able to get your attention but they will have a tough time doing it. I tested them in a car (as a passenger of course) and was completely oblivious to the conversations that were going on around me – and that was at a very moderate volume.
The House of Marley Redemption Song OE headphones offer what you would expect from a $200 pair of headphones: great sound, build quality and awesome presentation – without being ostentatious. They are subtle, sophisticated and sound fantastic – I could not ask for anything more. I was initially a little concerned about the comfort level (they initially felt a little tight for me to wear with glasses) but this definitely improved with time. If they loosen up a little more over the next couple of weeks, I would have no hesitation in upping the score to 5 out of 5.
Given the price, I would strongly recommend taking a portable media player of your choosing down to a store and trying a pair on for yourself – everyone has different tastes.
Score: 4.5 out of 5