House of Marley Exodus
House of Marley Exodus ($149)
The unbelievable number of new headphone brands on the market is the bane of my existence. There are just too many and there is just no way I can listen to them all. But there is something great about having all these new makers: they all want to differentiate themselves from each other, and as a consequence we get to see all sorts of cool ideas about what a headphone is.
The House of Marley Exodus is an intriguing headphone with a very different vibe, indeed. It is a strong and well integrated expression of a corporate ethic adopted by The House of Marley. From their website:
Love of people, love of the Earth. Bob's ideals and principles centered around one thing, love. And now we're turning his principles into products.
I take that kinda stuff from marketers with a grain of salt mostly, but in this case it fairly radiates from the product. Right from the start, unboxing these headphones wasn't the ostentatious affair it often is these days. The House of Marley packaging was a breath of fresh air with its post-consumer cardboard packaging and lack of gaudy glossy graphics. It was almost as if you could feel the care and love they put into it as you opened it up. It was sort of was like they were personally handing it to you ... I kid you not.
The Exodus headphone has a very organic and natural look. The band is a simple piece of bent laminate wood with a medium-brown satin finish. Three metal buttons reminiscent of a Levis jeans button, but here with Marley logos, adorn the ends of the headband, and act as attachments for the decorative leather accent on the outside and the leather headpad and metal earcups on the inside. If you like to wear jeans, sneakers, and flannel shirts, these headphones will fit right in.
The ergonomics are a bit of a mess, however. The biggest problem is the elastic on the headband delivers quite a bit of force and I found them climbing up my head all the time. Very irritating. This is early on in their production, I bet they'll change this soon. I figured out how much extension I needed on the band and then stapled through it near the ends of the pad so it wouldn't move any more. (See video at article end for instruction.) It worked fine after that and was fairly comfortable.
Editor's Note: As of Jan 2012 the problems with the headband have been fixed. I tried a pair out at CES and am pleased to say the new headband works MUCH better then the old one, and now the earpieces snap into the three different positions on the headband. Thanks House of Marley!
The earpieces swivels to meet flat against your ear nicely, but the leather earpads are not very pliant and deliver only average comfort for a headphone of this type --- which isn't all that great. The earpieces also spin around unencumbered on their single attachment point causing some cable problems, and having you fumble a bit as you pick them up and align the earcups with both cables downward before putting them on.
The headphones come with a sturdy and simple medium-brown canvas carry pouch with a snap closure and leather logo patch. The headphones don't fold or collapse in any way so the pouch is rather large as these things go. But it works well, and will look right at home in a backpack full of folf Frisbees and hacky sacks.
Now to the really good bit, let's have a listen ...