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House of Marley Exodus
August 2, 2019
Original: $199 USD
9.1 x 9.6cm (outer ear pad)
1.3m (3.5mm cable)
Audio brands work extensively to separate themselves from others. Some companies focus on style, others on durability, but the House of Marley Exodus brings something else to the table: sustainability. The FSC-certified wood coupled with aluminum components makes these eye-catching, but are the nice design and sustainability efforts enough to warrant the $200 price?
Editor’s note: this review was updated on March 18, 2022, to expand the list of buying options, add a disclosure box regarding old test data, and address the House of Marley Positive Vibration XL ANC as an alternative.
Who should get the House of Marley Exodus?
- The House of Marley Exodus is for the environmentally conscious consumer. In a market overrun by companies vying to outshine all others, House of Marley boasts of its responsibly sourced materials and reforestation initiative aptly named Project Marley. The House of Marley Exodus reproduces a bass-heavy sound, making these a great alternative to Beats.
What’s it like to use the House of Marley Exodus?
The FSC-certified wood and aluminum build is sure to attract attention. Each ear cup is embossed with the House of Marley logo and houses a 50mm dynamic driver, which pumps out a rather bass-heavy sound. Extending out from the wooden chambers are memory foam ear pads. These are incredibly comfortable and a pleasure to wear even with glasses.
The metal pole adjusters feel sturdy and offer enough resistance to hold their place without requiring an excessive amount of force to modify. Unfortunately, the headband suspension mechanism doesn’t effectively distribute the weight of the Exodus, resulting in pain at the crown of the head after just an hour of listening, this general pain is made worse for anyone with glasses. Even though the headphones are chunky, the ear cups are afforded a full 90 degrees of rotation to rest against the chest or in a bag. Plus, the metal hinges allow the ear cups to fold toward the headband for a compact form factor.
The peripheral panel of each ear cup houses buttons and ports. On the left is the USB-C port, placed just below the power button and its four LED indicators. On the right ear cup rest a unified three-button playback control arrangement as well as a 3.5mm input. While I tend to shy away from headphones that place the headphone jack on the right side, rather than the left, the inclusion is welcome and works just as well.
Operating playback controls is easy since the center multifunction button sits elevated relative to the volume controls flanking it. My only qualm is that accessing a virtual assistant like Google or Siri takes longer than with most. Upon depressing the multifunction button for the directed three seconds, the headphones emit a tone which then prompts the Google Assistant tone a second later. Only after hearing that was I able to successfully make a command. This occasionally made the process up to three seconds long before I was able to say anything.
It's difficult to name a more attractive, well-built pair of headphones at this price point.
While it’s not a dealbreaker, it does get annoying after a few times especially compared to headsets with full assistant integration that seem to respond instantaneously.
What Bluetooth codecs does the House of Marley Exodus support?
The House of Marley Exodus uses Bluetooth 5.0 and supports only the SBC Bluetooth codec. This means you won’t get any high-quality wireless audio to your phone, regardless of whether its iOS or Android. If you want high-resolution audio, you can always plug in the 3.5mm cable, but you’ll still have the default bass-heavy response to deal with.
To connect the House of Marley Exodus to your phone, hold the power button for six seconds, open your phone’s Bluetooth menu, and select “Exodus.” If you experience connectivity troubles, press and hold both volume buttons for two seconds.
How long does the battery last on the House of Marley Exodus?
Our objective testing yielded 24 hours, 52 minutes of playback at 75dB(SPL). Although this does fall short of the company’s claimed 30-hour battery life, it provides plenty of juice to get through an international flight or a couple weeks’ worth of commutes.
Using the included USB-C cable is convenient and takes just a couple of hours to reach a full charge. The Exodus headset supports fast charging: 15 minutes of charge provides 180 minutes of listening, which is a bit better than average.
Does the House of Marley Exodus block out sound?
When it comes to isolation, the headphones do a decent job at attenuating external noise. Conversations from nearby neighbors still permeate the headphones’ barrier but are muffled. While traffic won’t be rendered inaudible with the House of Marley Exodus, keyboard clacking and clinking ceramic mugs are quieted effectively.
Hold up! Something’s different:
This article’s frequency response and isolation charts were measured with our old testing system. We have since purchased a Bruel & Kjaer 5128 test fixture (and the appropriate support equipment) to update our testing and data collection. It will take a while to update our backlog of old test results, but we will update this review (and many others!) once we’re able with improved sound quality measurements, isolation performance plots, and standardized microphone demos. These will be made obvious with our new chart aesthetic (black background instead of white). Each new mic sample begins with the phrase, “This is a SoundGuys standardized microphone demonstration …”
Thank you for bearing with us, and we hope to see you again once we’ve sorted everything out.
Do the headphones sound good?
The House of Marley Exodus sounds fun since it boosts bass frequencies quite a bit, though this comes at the expense of clarity. However, if you categorize yourself as a bass head then the lessened detail is likely worth the loud low-end response. In all fairness, when a song is absent of a dominant bassline, mainly during an intro or outro, instruments and vocals are reproduced clearly.
Lows, mids, and highs
Noah Kahan’s song False Confidence sounds fine with the Exodus until the chorus kicks in. Let’s start with the good, though. The song opens with alternating picking between the A and B strings on the sixth and seventh frets, respectively. These notes are relayed clearly on their own. Even when Kahan’s vocals enter at 0:08, things sound great. Kahan’s slightly emphasized vocals take precedence over the individually plucked notes without greatly impacting my ability to hear it.
Once the chorus kicks in at 0:48, however, instruments become difficult to discern from one another. While the loud, emphasized bass response can be fun, it serves as a distraction in False Confidence.
When listening to the song, I strained to hear the song’s hook, “I hope I wake up young again,” over the din. What’s more, I am overwhelmed during the tail end of each chorus. This is when Kahan vocalizes repeated “Ohs” in tandem with tambourine and drum hits and powerful guitar strums. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as many of us prefer low-end emphasis above all else and actively seek it out.
Is the microphone good on the Exodus?
There are two ways for the House of Marley Exodus to relay your voice: via the headset’s onboard microphone or the in-line mic near the top of the 3.5mm detachable cable. The onboard microphone tests well with bearable fluctuations in frequency emphasis. However, in the real world, it’s apparent that it suffers from proximity issues. More often than not, my voice sounds “boomy.”
Should you buy the House of Marley Exodus?
If style and conscious consumption are two of your priorities, then the House of Marley Exodus is a great pair of headphones. Its design not only looks handsome, but it feels durable thanks to the metal accents and key components like the headband architecture and ear cup sliders. Ultimately, $200 USD is a lot to allocate to a single pair of headphones, but you will feel like you’re getting your money’s worth with the Exodus.
You might like: The best eco-friendly headphones
What should you get instead of the Exodus headphones?
If you love the House of Marley aesthetic, you may want to consider the House of Marley Positive Vibration XL ANC. This headset has very good noise cancelling for the price ($149 USD), and features a similarly fine build with aluminum and FSC-certified wood pieces. The sound is pretty bass-heavy, and even more so when you listen in passive wired mode, but that might be a good thing for certain listeners. We find the House of Marley Exodus to be a bit more comfortable than the Positive Vibration XL ANC because the latter has a tighter clamping force that isn’t as easy to adjust by hand.
The House of Marley Exodus ANC features a very similar design to the original Exodus, but the wood panels are black with the active noise cancelling (ANC) variant. Since ANC is a power-hungry technology, the official battery life is a bit shorter with the Exodus ANC, which is rated for 28 hours instead of the Exodus’ 30-hour playtime.
If you don’t want any House of Marley headphones, don’t worry: there are plenty of excellent Bluetooth headphones under $200. The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 has a slightly amplified bass response, LDAC support, and stellar battery life. Alternatively, if you want something a bit more compact and exercise-friendly, you should look at the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 6100.
Frequently asked questions about the House of Marley Exodus
No, the Exodus doesn’t have noise cancelling. If you want ANC, you’ll need the Exodus ANC headset instead.
No, there is no mobile app for the House of Marley Exodus, so you can’t update the firmware.
The Exodus has a 32Ω, which only applies when you listen in wired mode.