House of Marley has made a name for itself over the past couple of years by offering high quality headphones and speakers that come in a wide range of Rasta- themed colors. These colors are appealing to just about everyone who looks at them – ISIL being the one exception. I reviewed the Redemption Song on-ear headphones just over 3 years ago, and I really liked them for their design and quality. It makes me very happy to see House of Marley continue doing what they are good at and applying those traits to speakers. Though their products are not always the cheapest on the market, they still offer great value for the money when pitted against many of their competitors. This is especially true in the “Look and Feel” department, where they blow away just about everything else they go up against.
So when I was asked to review the new “Chant Mini” Bluetooth speakers I could not say no. These speakers are really sweet. Read on to learn more about the best mini speakers on the market right now.
Design, Look, and Feel:
The design of the Chant Mini is cylindrical, and akin to a small hand-drum. The unit I received came in a “black” theme, with blue and navy color options are also available. These speakers are covered around the sides by “REWIND” fabric covering – it looks and feels a lot like denim. The company makes a point of using as much recycled material as possible in the construction of their products. These speakers utilize the companies trademark REWIND fabric, as well as a mixture of silicon recyclable aluminum, blended bio-plastic, and bamboo construction. The top of the unit has a smooth jet black metal grill, while the bottom has a nice rubberized grip to ensure the speakers stay in place while playing music. All the buttons are located in one place in the top circle, which has a nice reddish bamboo ring encircling it, providing a very natural, earthy feel.
On the opposite side of the buttons (technically around the back) is a small tab – an included carabiner can be looped through this so that the speakers can be attached to a backpack, or really anything you can clip a carabiner to. Towards the bottom left hand side (If you are facing the buttons) is a small rubber flap covering the micro-USB charger (charging cable included) and 3.5 mm aux input (3.5 mm aux cable NOT included).
The chant mini is light, weighing in at just 0.9 lbs, yet it feels very well built in the hands. While the unit is not specifically designed to be rugged, it could certainly withstand day-to-day travel from place to place while dangling off the side of a backpack as you go trekking through the outdoors to a secret nature party.
The audio quality of these speakers was simply stunning for something so small and light. I was truly amazed at just how well the Chant Mini performed relative to its size. The fact of the matter is this: House of Marley has had enough time to perfect their drivers that it’s no surprise they sound really damn good. With its 52 mm Active-Passive combo driver, and 3 watt output, these speakers really impressed me. For starters, music was crisp, clean, and loud. The bass was strong, clean, and never distorted the audio quality. That being said the speakers would shake a little and move around a bit when playing music at full volume, but I prefer to think of this as a bonus feature, rather than a problem. Classic tunes such as ‘Suliman’ by ‘Infected Mushroom’ came across nice and smoothly with the bass just completely taking over the room. In a 8 x 14 foot room, these speakers will be all you need to bring your party to life. They even work pretty well outdoors as well. Finally, they can be used to answer calls, and so long as you’re within 6 feet of the speakers, whomever you’re talking with will hear you just fine thanks to the built in microphone.
House of Marley claims the Chant Mini’s built in 1100 mAh Lithium Ion battery will provide for up to 6 hours of continuous music streaming via Bluetooth. So the truth is, this is technically correct so long as the right conditions are met. First and foremost the unit cannot be running at the highest volume – it should be running at about 50 % volume.Second the device you are connecting to the Chant Mini needs to be within 6 feet of the speakers. This is simply because the closer the device is, the less power used by the Bluetooth radio. In short, the battery will last a solid 6 hours if the unit is utilized correctly. On full volume, I often found the speakers would provide 3 hours of continuous usage.
These speakers are really nice, and coupled with an MSRP of just $49, you can’t go wrong buying them. They feel great, provide decent battery life, and are easy enough to take to the park or on outing or really anywhere and provide a good time for all. It’s basically everything you could want in small portable speakers. The only slight downside is the cylindrical design. While these speakers are easy enough to carry around in a backpack or messenger bag, they don’t feel all that comfortable in cargo shorts. Practically speaking, it’s not a big deal so long as you transport these in some type of bag. Finally, it’s a bit disappointing that House Of Marley does not include a 3.5 mm aux cable with these. Their cables are awesome, and it would have been a great addition. Regardless, the speakers are still awesome.
In One Sentence:
“Put down the books and put your hands in the air, the Chant Mini is here to start a party in many dorms this semester.”
Specifications As Listed:
Output Power: 3 Watts.
Driver: 52 mm.
Bluetooth: v4.1 + EDR, A2DP – Wireless range of up to 33 feet.
Input/Output: 3.5 mm Line-in & Micro USB Charging.
Battery: Internal Rechargeable Lithium-ion 1100 mAh – 6 Hours max run time.
Dimensions: 5.51 x 4.25 x 4.25″.
Weight: 0.9 lbs.
Accessories: Micro-USB charging cable, Carabiner.
About Benny Sabghir: Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Benny enjoys all aspects of consumer electronics - especially writing about it. He also enjoys hitting the gym, running and discussing the history of his three favorite wars - The American Revolution, The Six-Day War, and the Star Wars Trilogy. Currently in Jerusalem, Israel. Follow him on twitter @Sabghir_Benny Find him on Google+ View author profile.