Bluetooth over-the-ear headphones might not be quite as en vogue as the earbud-style, but some of us definitely prefer the former. What’s great is when you can find a set of over-the-ear headphones that sound great, look great, and are feature-packed. House of Marley is known for great sound and looks, so I was encouraged by the advertised features of the Liberate XLBT. Let’s take a listen to these headphones and see how they stack up.
- Company Name: House of Marley
- Product Name: Liberate XLBT Headphones
- Price: $179.99 (from $149.99 to $177.20 on Amazon)
- Compatibility: Any with Bluetooth
- Website: Liberate XLBT Web page
- Date Reviewed: Dec. 9, 2015
The Liberate XLBT is designed and made with all of House of Marley’s ideals in mind. It utilizes wood trim that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which means the wood comes from woodlands that are responsibly managed. The headband is made from House of Marley’s Rewind recycled fabric and leather, but most importantly, the headphones are designed to deliver the company’s signature sound that is equal parts smooth power in the bass, precise mid-range acoustics, and very energetic high-ends.
The headset utilizes Bluetooth AAC and APTX encoding for a great listening experience, and the 50mm dynamic moving coil drivers allow for fantastic sound. The headset features a built-in rechargeable battery, has an integrated microphone, but also includes a removable cable with a microphone and one-button remote. On your right ear, you’ll find all the controls you need: volume up and down, fast forward and rewind, Bluetooth connect, play and pause, answer or hang up your call, and the power button.
There is one drawback to the design of this headset. The left and right markings are hidden by the cord and band, if you have the earcups fully retracted. The result of that was pretty embarassing for me: I assumed the buttons should go over my left ear, so the integrated microphone was facing behind me the first couple of times I used it. This led to several complaints of “you’re too quiet” until I realized the problem.
Integration With iOS Devices
The Liberate XLBT pairs readily with any iOS device, as well as with a Mac or the Apple TV. With an iPhone, the headset really comes into its own, allowing you to easily play or pause your music, skip forward or backward a track, or utilize fast-forward or rewind. You can also answer and hang up on calls. Unfortunately, there’s no way to activate Siri using the headset, a feature that far too few accessories offer.
Use and Feel
The wooden look in a headset may not be for everyone, but it’s certainly unique and distinctive. The headset is a bit on the heavy side, but I didn’t notice any discomfort when wearing it for long periods of time. I regularly handle interviews using the XLBT, and it’s worked out really well (as long as I had the microphone facing the correct direction, of course.) The included microphone cable also works well, but I prefer to just use the Bluetooth headset wirelessly.
- Very distinctive appearance
- Great sound
- Long-lasting battery
- Left/right markings are hidden a bit too well
- No Siri control
- Wood trim makes the headset a bit heavy
How Does It Stack Up?
The House of Marley Liberate XLBT features a great look, awesome sound, and almost all of the features that I’ve come to expect in a Bluetooth headset. The lack of a way to activate Siri isn’t really a deal breaker for me.
Where Can You Get It, and How Much Does It Cost?
You can purchase the Liberate XLBT directly from House of Marley, or from Amazon. It’s $179.99 from House of Marley, and is priced at $149.99 for the saddle color option or $177.20 for the midnight variety on Amazon.
If you’re looking for a great-sounding Bluetooth headset that also looks beautiful, the Liberate XLBT is a wonderful choice.
The Liberate XLBT’s Overall Scores:
- Aesthetic Appeal: ★★★★★
- Wow Factor: ★★★☆☆
- Sound quality: ★★★★★
- Value: ★★★★☆