House of Marley is an audio company that makes turntables, Bluetooth speakers and Bluetooth headphones out of sustainably-resourced and recycled materials. Today I take a look at their midrange, over-ear Bluetooth headphones. This is the Positive Vibration XL Review.
Positive Vibration XL Review
If you’re looking for a pair of environmentally-conscious headphones, look no further than the House of Marley. There a handful of other companies that use sustainably-sourced wood, but none as large or as comprehensive as the House of Marley.
You can visit the ‘Materials‘ page on their website to see the full scope, which includes bamboo, recycled plastics, recycled fiber, FSC certified wood, and more.
House of Marley is also partnered with One Tree Planted, a non-profit dedicated to global reforestation. Tree planting is one of the single best actions we can take to sequester carbon out of the atmosphere and mitigate the harmful effects of human-induced climate change. I strongly urge you visit their website, and read the book Kiss the Ground by Josh Tickell to educate yourself further.
Even if you don’t care about where the materials came from, they make for a good looking pair of headphones. A $100 price tag typically guarantees cheap plastic, but the Positive XL is mostly fabric and brushed aluminum. The wood stamped Marley logo provides the finishing touch.
The headphones have a healthy weight, but remain incredibly comfortable on the head. They aren’t as snug as some other models, which means your ears have room to breath but outside noise also has room to enter. But I’d bet the durability of the Positive XL against its plastic counterparts any day.
Control buttons reside on the right earcup, and the box includes a cloth-threaded 3.5mm wire wrapped in twine. The headphones quick-charge by USB-C, and have a 24 hour battery life.
The control panel rests on the back of the right earpiece, in a perfect spot for easy reach. The center button controls play/pause and power on/off, and the two volume buttons can also skip tracks when held down. Double tapping the center button activates the voice control. The scheme is easy to use and easy to remember.
Compared to other models at a similar price range, the Positive XL has a mellower sound with a more natural midrange.
Both the Sennheiser HD 4.40BT and the Sony WH-CH500 have more bass than the Positive XL, so bass fiends should look elsewhere. The Positive XL doesn’t sound thin, but the bass is much more relaxed and out-of-the-way than the other options.
The midrange is where the Positive XL really shines. Good instrument separation, and a totally natural sound. The midrange on the Sonys and Sennheisers sounded unnaturally altered by comparison; likely a result of the bass boost. It should come as no surprise that older and more intricate styles of music (like reggae) sound great on the Positive XL. But if you listen to modern pop or hip-hop, you may want a more boosted sound.
When switching to wired usage, the sound actually became less engaging. Music seems less vivid, and the soundstage more narrow. Wireless is definitely the way to go for the Positive XL. The wire does include a microphone, so you can still take phone calls if the headphone dies.
The strongest selling points on the Positive Vibration XL to me are the materials and the aesthetic. They look far more stylish than any other headphone in the pricepoint, and are probably more responsibly-sourced than any other headphone on the market, period.
I like the sound profile, but it will not be everybody’s cup of tea. The average consumer is looking for bass and volume, and the Positive XL is light in both respects. But fans of jazz, classical, vintage rock or reggae will feel right at home.
Pros- Sustainably sourced materials, great aesthetic, natural midrange.
Cons- Sound may be too relaxed for some tastes, little sound isolation.
Pick one up at the House of Marley.
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