By Todd Bernhard on Fri, 03/30/2012
Phil Spector gave us the Wall of Sound. Julie Andrews gave us the Sound of Music. Now, Bob Marley's family wants to give us the Bag of Rhythm. I've written about the House of Marley before, and their commitment to both quality audio equipment and charitable efforts through their 1love foundation, named after Bob Marley's classic song.
While the organization may give money away to good causes, they have clearly spared no expense in creating this hybrid boombox/messenger bag. I have never seen such unique combinations of high-tech gadgetry, high-end audio components, quality inlaid FSC certified birch, and durable canvas, all in reggae-inspired colors. I like it when designers combine such diverse materials. Clearly House of Marley has thought outside the boombox!
Most importantly, the sound is impressive, thanks to the Bag of Rhythm's large, heavy speakers. The unit has a pair of 4.5" woofers and a pair of 1" tweeters. The bag is powered by either AC power or 6 size C batteries.
Your iPhone, iPod touch, or even iPod nano is cradled horizontally on the top of the unit, for a pure digital experience. There are few controls, aside from power and volume, since you use the iOS device as your interface. This makes it a bit limiting, as there is no FM radio or CD player, unlike traditional boomboxes, but that is not the goal. Much like how Apple's MacBook Air doesn't bother with an optical disc drive, the Bag of Rhythm is meant to be primarily an iOS affair. There is an AUX port and cable for plugging in an external audio source, so you could use the Bag of Rhythm with other phones and MP3 players.
One pet peeve is the Bag of Rhythm's carrying strap. The strap can get twisted in the rectangular bracket, where it attaches to the unit. I would prefer a swiveling attachment, but that doesn't take away from the audio performance of the unit.
At $350, the Bag of Rhythm is not cheap, but it's nice to know that a portion of the proceeds go to a good cause, and you're getting a quality audio component that's also a work of art.