House of Marley Chant Mini
Bob Marley-inspired House of Marley is a funny old company. It makes ‘eco’ tinged audio gear, but aren’t trees still being cut down to put the wood in these speakers? Either way, the Chant Mini still gets you one of the funkiest-looking budget portable speakers around.
There’s bamboo “detailing” on the top, and a patterned fabric coat on its sides, made of hemp, cotton and recycled plastic bottles. It’s much more eye-catching than the many plastic speakers you’ll find on offer when you don’t have many pounds to spend.
The Chant Mini looks like a tiny little bongo drum. There’s an aluminium grille up top, and behind this is where the driver lives, firing upwards so it doesn’t really care how it’s placed.
There’s a mic on the side for hands-free calls and a series of rubbery buttons to let you change the volume without reaching for your phone. The battery lasts for up to six hours, and while there’s no official waterproofing, there is a rubbery bung over the charge socket to avoid the Chant Mini dying after simply being put on some wet grass.
Its sound is basic, like that of almost all budget speakers that only have a single small driver. The bass is very shallow, making bass drum beats sound a bit like someone tapping on a tupperware lid. These days you can get speakers this size, or smaller, with proper bass thanks to the use of a passive radiator.
However, the mids are relatively full and the treble isn’t harsh, making it a stylish way to get a low-fuss upgrade for your phone’s naff speakers.