EVALUATION

House of Marley Rebel True Wireless Earbuds Review: Sustainable, Affordable Earphones for Music Lovers

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House of Marley Rebel True Wireless Earbuds

7.00 / 10

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The House of Marley Rebel True Wireless Earbuds are a great value set of headphones. Unlike many sets at this price range, they aren't just Apple AirPods clones but offer a unique take on these wire-free earphones. The outer parts are made from sustainable materials, the buds are IPX5-rated for water resistance, and the charging case offers 30 hours of battery. They don't reach higher volumes, which can be an issue in loud environments, but they make up for this by generally providing superb audio quality.

Key Features

  • Made from sustainable materials
  • 30-hour battery life
  • IPX5 water resistance rating
Specifications

  • Brand: House of Marley
  • Battery Life: 8 hours, 30 hours with charging case
  • Noise Cancellation: No
  • Mono Listening: Yes
  • Bluetooth : Yes
Pros

  • Each earbud lasts up to 8 hours on a single charge
  • Supports mono, or single ear, listening
  • Great sound reproduction
Cons

  • Volume appeared too low
  • No ANC included
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Many sets of true wireless earbuds look like Apple AirPods clones. The distinctive all-white design is quite eye-catching, but most budget AirPods alternatives use cheaper materials, drop some features, and, significantly, don't sound as good.

If you're after an alternative set of earbuds that stand out from the Apple-inspired crowd, consider the House of Marley Rebel True Wireless Earbuds. The in-ear headphones stick by the company's focus on the environment, with many of the outer parts made of sustainable materials. Plus, they sound great, too.

Let's take a look at the House of Marley Rebel True Wireless Earbuds, whether they live up to the brand's environmental goals and if they'll be right for your needs.

House of Marley Rebel True Wireless Earbuds Case Design

House_of_Marley_Rebel_Earbuds_8
House of Marley Rebel True Wireless Earbuds out of the charging case

True wireless earbuds, earphones with no cables, existed before Apple introduced the AirPods, but how it approached the design has influenced the entire market. The House of Marley Rebel aren't a massive departure from that form: they come in a small charging case, and the buds feature a stem, but they bring a unique style.

The charging case, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, is made of wood composite, a blend of wood derivatives and recycled plastic, with bamboo trim. If you've not come across House of Marley audio products before, this is a core part of the company's aesthetic and purpose.

The brand is loosely associated with the Bob Marley estate and attempts to follow in the spirit of the reggae legend. So the materials are designed to have the least impact on the planet, and you'll find many references to reggae music and lifestyle across the company's marketing and products.

The top of the case features the House of Marley logo in silver effect, and there are five white LEDs on the front to indicate your remaining battery. There's a USB-C charging port and a button to put the earbuds into pairing mode on the underside.

House of Marley Rebel True Wireless Earbuds Earbuds Design

House of Marley Rebel True Wireless Earbuds on some grass

If you open the case's lid, the earbuds are nestled inside dedicated housing. Each one has a status LED, which briefly illuminates when the case opens, and intermittently flashes while connected to your device as well. The housing and some magnets keep them in place, but perhaps a bit too well.

You don't want the buds to fall out of the case accidentally, but the Rebel True Wireless Earbuds are slightly awkward to take out as the effective housing, combined with an angled lid, means you can only get one finger across the bud to pull it out. It's not dramatically annoying, but it's something you have to get used to.

The earbuds themselves are pretty distinctive, with an angled outer bud designed to make the bamboo-coated stem sit flat against your ear and face. The buds are IPX5-rated for water and sweat resistance, so light exposure to liquid shouldn't cause any issues. You can adjust the size of the in-ear portion of the earbuds with one of the three silicone tips included in the package.

You want to choose the size which offers the best fit, not just so they don't fall out of your ears, but also to get the best sound quality and least noise. This is important as the Rebel True Wireless Earbuds do not come with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). As a result, if you want to block out unwanted background noise, you'll need to make sure they are firmly but comfortably locked into your ear.

Many people opt for earbuds when working out, so the fit is essential here too. Generally, I didn't have any issues with the buds while exercising, although I did find using my phone to change track more practical than the touch controls.

In theory, one tap increases the volume, two taps changes the track, while pressing and holding for two seconds activates your phone's digital assistant. In reality, the controls were inconsistent, sometimes adjusting the volume when you wanted to change the track or mistakenly waking up the assistant.

House of Marley Rebel True Wireless Earbuds Audio Performance

House of Marley Rebel True Wireless Earbuds on a yoga block

Given that the House of Marley brand is centered around a musical icon, you'd expect the sound quality to be the priority feature. Having previously owned a set of the House of Marley Liberate Air earbuds, I was expecting a similar experience.

Generally, the audio reproduction is good across a range of genres, an essential consideration in the age of genre-hopping streaming playlists, although it's not audiophile quality. Sound is also incredibly subjective, so the important thing is that the Rebel earbuds' audio is generally good, although I found a few sticking points.

Firstly, the volume was way too quiet. Typically, I only wear one earbud, so there's plenty of background noise to compete with. Most earbuds, including the Liberate Air, do this with no problem, but the Rebel buds just didn't seem to reach a high enough volume.

We all know that listening to loud music for long periods can harm our hearing. My previous poor listening habits, blasting music too loudly into my ears, could even contribute to the volume-related issues. But as this isn't a problem on other buds, I can only assume that the Rebel earbuds are genuinely very quiet or have been artificially volume limited.

Either way, the result was that it could be hard to hear the audio clearly in busy environments. This was particularly noticeable when listening to some varieties of metal music, where the songs all typically fall into lower, bassier frequencies. The riffs became harder to distinguish, at times causing me to change the track.

All told, though, this is probably an unfortunate combination of circumstances—noisy environment, low volume, poor hearing—so your experience may vary. This shouldn't take away from the otherwise excellent audio reproduction qualities of the Rebel True Wireless Earbuds and may not even be an issue if you listen to certain styles of music.

House of Marley Rebel True Wireless Earbuds Battery Life

House of Marley Rebel True Wireless Earbuds charging port

The company reports that the Rebel True Wireless Earbuds should last for up to eight hours on a single charge and then achieve 30 hours if you take the case into account. Even if you're a heavy user, this means you only need to charge the case once or twice per week. During testing, this turned out to be broadly accurate.

You're never going to achieve the quoted battery life, as that's under ideal conditions, and it depends on volume, your Bluetooth connection, and whether you leave them on but idling for a period. Interestingly, the Rebel earbuds have in-ear detection, so they will automatically pause when you take them out and resume once back in your ear. Not only is this convenient, but it helps extend the battery life too.

Of course, if you aren't going to use them for a longer period, it's worth putting them back in the case. Once you need to top up, you can plug the charging case in using the USB-C port on the underside. Impressively for a set of earbuds at this price, the case also supports wireless charging, so you can place the case onto the charger to fill up.

Should You Buy the House of Marley Rebel True Wireless Earbuds?

The House of Marley Rebel True Wireless Earbuds are a great value set of headphones. The 30-hour battery life means you rarely have to stick them on a charge, and the eight-hour bud battery is plenty to see you through most sessions. Similarly, they are comfortable to wear, even across more extended periods, and stay within your ear, although you might need to make adjustments occasionally.

While there's no companion app or active noise cancellation, there's still plenty to like about these earphones. Specifically, the company's approach to manufacturing and product design. The Rebel earbuds look great and are made from more sustainable materials than almost any other set at this price point. In a crowded market, this focus on environmental impact, along with excellent audio quality, is what makes House of Marley devices stand out.

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