House of Marley Chant Mini budget Bluetooth speaker review

House of Marley has been designing Bluetooth speakers and headphones with a difference for some time now. The difference? The company incorporates recycled materials, like plastic, in its speakers for a unique look and feel. How does the company’s latest budget Bluetooth speaker, the Chant Mini, perform? We’ve put the Marley Chant Mini through its paces and here’s where we discuss its design, build quality, features, connectivity and most importantly, audio quality. Read next: Best Bluetooth speakers

Also see: Best Black Friday Speaker Deals

House of Marley Chant Mini Bluetooth speaker review: UK pricing and availability

So before we go any further into the review, we thought we’d better talk about pricing as, like with many products, the price reflects the quality of the product you’re buying. The good news is that the Marley Chant Mini is actually fairly cheap, and can be picked up for around £39.99 from not only the House of Marley website but also the likes of Amazon UK and Currys PC World, with other designs available from all retailers.

House of Marley Chant Mini Bluetooth speaker review: Design and build quality

House of Marley puts a huge emphasis on the design and materials used in its product range, offering consumers a blend of technology and nature with the “socially responsible” materials it uses to craft its range of speakers and headphones. This is no different with the Chant Mini; featuring REWIND fabric covering (30 percent hemp, 30 percent organic cotton and 40 percent recycled plastic bottles), blended bio-plastic, recyclable aluminium and a bamboo trim ring, the speaker definitely has a unique style that the company has crafted over a number of years and iterations of the Chant and Chant Mini (take a look at the 2013 Marley Chant we reviewed to see what we mean).

Its small (14 x 10.8 x 10.8cm) bongo-esque design and curved shape makes it easy to carry around either in the hand or in a bag/rucksack, and weighing a fairly lightweight 399g, it’s something that can be left in a bag and forgotten about until required. It can also be transported using the provided carabineer clip, allowing users to clip it to the outside of a rucksack or even a pair of jeans for listening to music on-the-go.

While we think the black Marley Chant Mini is stunning, there are other colour/material combinations available including covers made from hemp, denim and more, all for the same £39.99 price tag.

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House of Marley Chant Mini Bluetooth speaker review: Features and connectivity

So, what does the Marley Chant Mini offer apart from a rather attractive design made from socially responsible products? Let’s start with the basics – the Chant Mini features Bluetooth 4.1 for wireless audio playback with a range of 10m, although this is likely to decrease if objects (like walls) are in the way. As well as Bluetooth connectivity, it also features an Aux-in port for those without Bluetooth connectivity. In terms of battery life, you get around 10 hours per charge, although we’ve found this to vary depending on the volume of the speaker.

Of course, costing only £39.99, the Marley Chant Mini isn’t going to offer advanced features like the dual-speaker pairing capabilities of the Jam Double Down, or the gesture/touch enabled controls of the UE Boom, but what it does offer is a built-in mic. This allows the speaker to be used as a speakerphone, negating the need to disconnect the speaker when receiving a phone call while playing music.

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House of Marley Chant Mini Bluetooth speaker review: Audio

While the Marley Chant Mini looks the part, it’s the audio quality that is the most important aspect of any Bluetooth speaker – features like doubling up, gesture control and more mean nothing if the speaker itself sounds bad. While we’re not expecting Bose-quality audio with a £40 speaker, it’s still a decent amount for somebody to slam down on a speaker, and the quality should reflect that – but did it?

During our testing, we played a number of songs from a variety of genres – from Hip Hop to Opera – to see how the Marley Chant Mini performed. What we were surprised about was the amount of bass produced by the tiny speaker, as we could feel slight vibration through the floor when it was sat on a table. However, while the bass and mid tones were well rounded and deep, the highs let the speaker down, as the audio lacked the crispness with vocals that you find with well-balanced Bluetooth speakers.

It’s pretty loud for a small speaker too, although it has to be said that as the volume of the speaker increase, the quality of audio decreases. This isn’t unique to the Marley Chant Mini though, as many budget Bluetooth speakers perform in the same way – they sound decent at mid-range, but distort and become quite harsh at high volume.

Looking for something a little more high-end? Take a look at our best high-end Bluetooth speaker chart instead.

House of Marley Chant Mini: Specs

  • 1x3W speaker
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • 399g
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Small and portable
  • 1x3W speaker
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • 399g
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Small and portable

OUR VERDICT

The Marley Chant Mini is, for the price, a fairly decent speaker, thanks in part to the booming bass of the Chant Mini that makes up for the non-existent high-end - especially if you’re into music with heavy bass lines (Drum and Bass, Dubstep, etc). The design of the Chant Mini is also a plus point when talking about the speaker, using recycled materials and wood to create something that’s refreshingly different when compared to a sea of plain, plastic, boring Bluetooth speakers. In summary: Good bass, good design, poor high-end tones.