House of Marley is making a record player, and like most of the company’s products, it’s doing it its own way.
The audio manufacturer has been putting out eco-conscious hardware since 2010, with lines of stylish headphones and Bluetooth speakers already on the shelf, and now the company is taking its first shot at spinning vinyl with the Stir It Up turntable. Not surprisingly, it has a look all its own. The record player is manufactured with sustainable materials, most notably a solid bamboo plinth that immediately catches the eye, and includes some solid audio gear under the hood. If you’ve ever seen any of the company’s audio equipment, the approach here should be familiar.
The company has been around for nearly a decade, but the Stir It Up record player is a major push into a new market. The company is set to drop the turntable on April 22, which is both Record Store Day and Earth Day, and thus the perfect day for House of Marley to introduce its first turntable.
“The beauty of the Stir It Up lies in its ecological balance. We’re bringing high quality, earth-friendly materials together with innovative design. The result is powerful sound and a stylish look for the new turntable,” Rohan Marley said in a statement. “We are amplifying our father’s true sound to the masses.”
For the most part, they nail it.
The bamboo plinth is the centerpiece of the design, and that’s accented by a host of sustainable materials and mid-tier turntable gear. House of Marley is aiming to strike a balance between a stylish, eco-friendly record player, and an entry-level table that should appeal to aspiring audiophiles. The audio tech is solid for the price, as the system includes an upgradeable Audio-Technica MM cartridge, an aluminum platter and metal tone arm, a built-in pre-amp, USB connectivity for digital recording, a 3.5mm headphone jack on the front, a belt drive for 45 and 33 RPM playback and anti-skating controls. For a turntable at this price point, that’s not a bad list of features — and we haven’t even gotten into the design and eco-conscious elements, yet.
We’ve mentioned that gorgeous chunk of bamboo, but the Stir It Up also has a few other design and material cues unique to House of Marley. The vibration-absorbing feet on the bottom are comprised of recycled silicone rubber (and they do a solid job of absorbing vibration, to boot), while the entire bottom is clothed in “up-cycled fabric” made from hemp, organic cotton and recycled plastic bottles. Many of the metal components also use recycled aluminum alloy, and the record slip mat is made of recycled silicone rubber — which is a bit strange when compared to typical cloth mats, but works surprisingly well once you get used to it.
All those elements combine for a pretty great looking turntable, and definitely something better made than a cheaper Crosley record player, or the bare bones Audio-Technica units in the same price spectrum (which still play really well, but aren’t all that eye catching). You can tell House of Marley took its time on the drawing board with this thing, from putting the headphone jack on the front (which seems obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many manufacturers bury it in the back where it’s impossibly annoying to reach without banging the entire table around), to little design cues. From the company logo etched into the plinth, to the color cues that tie the design together, they really did an excellent job making this table into something you wouldn’t mind looking at for years to come.
With the Stir It Up falling in that middle ground of entry-level and mid-tier record players, it’s worth noting the unit does not feature any internal speakers like some other comparable units. That’s not uncommon for a rig like this, but if you were planning on picking this up as a standalone piece and putting it on a table or shelf for occasional listening, take note — you’re also going to need some solid speakers for the full effect. So, leave an extra couple hundred dollars in your budget. That’s the case with a lot of good mid-tier (and upper-tier) turntables, but still something to remember. You can’t just start spinning your favorite wax right out of the box.
I threw several records at it during my testing phase, and it did a solid job of spinning them back with minimal pops and skips. The anti-skating flexibility came in handy, and from Arctic Monkeys’ Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, to an old pressing of The Beatles’ Rubber Soul, it held serve with my typical unit that runs off a comparable Audio-Technica cartridge and set-up. From older pressings, to newer wax on 180-gram vinyl, it handled it all. The sound was rich, and the tone arm and platter felt solid and steady throughout.
If you’re in the market for a turntable around the $200-$250 price point, the Stir It Up is an excellent option. The audio gear is solid for a system at this level, and it’s a gorgeous and well-constructed system that will look great at the heart of pretty much any home stereo. Throw in the fact that it has decent upgradability options, and the Stir It Up is something you can build on for years — and you can feel good about the environment while doing it.