Price (RRP): $199.95
Manufacturer: House of Marley
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned an interesting looking portable Bluetooth speaker, the $199.95 Get Together Mini from House of Marley, a firm with links (licensing ones at least) to the famed reggae innovator Bob Marley. Now I’ve got my hands on one and it’s time to dive into it.
The Get Together Mini is, well, the Mini version of the Get Together speaker. It isn’t tiny, but smallish. It measures 300mm wide, 95mm tall and 75mm deep and weighs just over 1.5 kilograms.
Part of that surprising weight is due to the built-in lithium ion batteries. It really is portable, able to play anywhere it’s in wireless range of your device for, the House of Markley (hereinafter called HoM) says for up to ten hours. It is powered via a MicroUSB B socket and can be fed from any USB socket able to provide reasonable power. It comes with a universal USB power adaptor and cable, just in case.
What’s particularly cool about the Get Together Mini speaker is the styling. It has a bamboo front, and a bamboo panel on the back while the rest of the body is tightly covered by a “Rewind Fabric” which is apparently made from recycled materials. The four control buttons are boldly marked out on the black cloth in white. The connections – power, 3.5mm auxiliary in and regular USB – are on the back. The normal USB socket is for providing power to your portable device. This will of course reduce the unit’s battery life if that’s how it’s running, but it means that both source and speakers will have power.
In my earlier report I was misled with regard to the lineup of drivers. There are two 25mm tweeters, not 38mm full range drivers. There are two 63mm woofers, not passive radiators. There is a passive radiator – a loudspeaker technology which is usually a woofer which isn’t electrically connected, but is weighted so that it resonates in a way which boosts the bass the normal speakers can’t properly deliver. In this case, it is that bamboo panel on the back. As the speaker’s playing it vibrates quite a bit.
I did find that its placement resulted in me often pressing into it when picking up the speaker. It seemed strong enough to take it, but I’d try to avoid it where possible.
HoM does say that the Get Together Mini speaker uses Bluetooth 4.1 and A2DP audio, but doesn’t specify the codecs used to actually convey the music. A2DP is a Bluetooth profile which is necessary for decent stereo audio and can carry it using the SBC codec, which is regarded as the lowest quality of the options available. Some speakers also support AAC (which provides better sound quality with Apple devices) or aptX (better for some premium Android devices), but in the absence of these being clearly specified, it’s best to assume that they aren’t implemented.
A remark on the user manual is in order. Occasionally you see a product with a manual that is elegantly designed and easy for any user to follow. The “manual” packaged with this speaker is the complete opposite of that. It is one flimsy piece of paper folded into 14 panels per side. In addition to instructions, it covers the voluminous regulatory information (for example, the speaker is compliant with the limits of a Class B device! Pursuant to Part 15 of the FCC Rules!) in 21 languages, plus warranty info (we get two years in Australia, explained in excruciating detail over two and half panels).
My problem isn’t all that stuff, which is no doubt legally required. It’s that the actual user instructions consist of infographics occupying the equivalent of one panel, and half of those were instructions not to open the casing or dump it in water.
I puzzled out the remaining instructions with a bit of trial and error. Alternatively you can go to “thehouseofmarley” website, either local or the home site, and find the manual for the bigger, non-Mini “Get Together” speaker, which is somewhat clearer and uses, you know, words.
It turned out that the Get Together Mini speaker is actually quite easy to operate, once you puzzle things out with little help from the instructions. There are two lights on top. The right hand one shows red when the unit is charging. The one to the left lights when the unit is switched on. You hold down the power button for three seconds to switch it on or off.
When you first switch on the power, the blue light flashes slowly indicating that it’s ready for pairing. Once paired it goes a steady blue. To pair a different device you hold down the Bluetooth button for a couple of seconds and then release it. The blue light starts flashing slowly again.