“The Redemption ANC look great, but small annoyances add up.”
- Active noise cancellation
- Aesthetically impressive
- Made of sustainable materials
- Flawed touch controls
- Bulky design
House of Marley’s new Redemption ANC true wireless earphones are the kind of product that you want to be able to love. Between the aesthetics, the commitment to sustainability, and the introduction of active noise cancellation, there’s plenty to be infatuated with.
Alas, my love isn’t blind. For all the positives House of Marley has packed into its $199 wireless earbuds, it’s impossible to overlook the issues holding these beauties hostage.
As part of House of Marley’s mission statement, the brand – which is owned by Bob Marley’s family – has committed to making its devices as sustainably as possible. The Redemption ANC are built with materials designed to reduce the earbuds’ impact on the environment, including bamboo, Regrind silicone — material made by reclaiming and recycling post-process and post-consumer waste — and Regrind wood fiber composite, which is made by combining wood derivatives and plastic fibers.
Who knew environmental responsibility could look so good? The well-crafted bamboo finish of the Redemption ANC, as well as the matching design of the case they sit in, make these buds among the most attractive available today. Compared to the conservative styles of other buds like the Apple Air Pods 2 and Samsung Galaxy Buds+, these stand out when they sit in your ears.
Speaking of second-edition AirPods, the Redemption ANC, like other true wireless earbuds, have adopted the stem shape popularized by Apple. The most glaring difference is how big the Redemption ANC are compared to something like the AirPods. Weighing in at 0.15 pounds, I was constantly aware of the hefty buds sticking out of my ears.
The Redemption ANC’s included silicone ear fins and three pairs of silicone ear gels gave me a lot of fitment options, and I had no trouble finding the right combination.
After setting up the earbuds — there’s no accompanying app here, just a quick start guide and video that effectively walks you through pairing to your mobile device — you’ll be able to start using the device’s onboard controls. Which, as I found, are a bit of a touchy subject.
The Redemption ANC can turn on and off Active Noise Cancellation and Ambient Mode, answer and end phone calls, pause and skip tracks, and summon your phone’s voice assistant, all by using the touch controls on each bud. Each function does work. It’s just a matter of how many times you’ll have to touch the buds before you find the right spot for them to activate.
From my experience, the Redemption ANC suffer the same problems as the House of Marley Liberate Air. There are no buttons on these buds. To use the touch controls, I had to apply the precise amount of pressure to an exact spot on the stem. It was annoying at best and, in the instances I found myself incessantly tapping the buds just to change a track, infuriating at worst.
On the bright side, because of the finicky touch controls, I didn’t accidentally trigger a command when adjusting them in my ear. That’s a common issue I’ve run into when trying out other, more sensitive earbuds.
With three taps on the Redemption ANC’s left earbud, active noise cancellation is engaged, and three additional taps enable Ambient Mode to pick up surrounding sounds. Both these features worked well, testing in conditions ranging from a moderately quiet office to a busy sidewalk.
These features aren’t better than, say, the noise-canceling provided in the Apple Air Pods Pro or the Sony WF-1000XM3, but the Redemption ANC are at least $30 cheaper than either of those options. In fact, they’re among a select group of earbuds currently offering active noise cancellation for under $200, joining the likes of the 1More True Wireless ANC and Amazon Echo Buds.
The Redemption ANC have a few other, less-sexy but still-important features. House of Marley advertises seven hours of playback on a single charge, though it drops down to five when active noise cancellation is on. From my testing, this was accurate, though the left bud seemed to consistently die nearly 10 minutes before the right. The case holds up to three extra charges, which once again checked out, putting it within competing range of the 24 hours of battery life boasted by the Apple AirPods 2.
They’re IPX4 certified, giving them sweat and splash protection, and they’ve held up well during workouts, and out on dog walks amidst the early morning dew.
When testing the sound quality of the Redemption ANC, there was only one logical place to start. I opened Spotify, cued up the “This is Bob Marley” curated playlist, and got comfy.
The bass response from The Redemption ANC is impressive. Marley songs like Jamming and Buffalo Soldier don’t waste any time introducing low cadences, and these buds didn’t skip a beat. That’s a nice change of pace, considering certain earbuds leave something to be desired in the low end.
I thought the sound was stellar overall, though it could have used a dash of high-end clarity in selections like Marley’s Redemption Song and Exodus. While the bass was welcomed as part of most of Marley’s discography, I found it to be overpowering at times when sampling music outside of the reggae genre. An adjustable equalizer to tone down the low end and prop up the acoustics would go a long way to making the Redemption ANC really sound special.
Call quality was a highlight, as the Redemption ANC clearly delivered dialogue across multiple calls, even during rush-hour traffic.
House of Marley offers a two-year warranty that covers defects in materials or workmanship.
Adding active noise cancellation and improved sound quality to its second shot at true wireless earbuds is a major move in the right direction, but the Redemption ANC leaves us with too many unaddressed problems.
Is there a better alternative?
For $30 more, you can buy the Sony WF-1000XM3, which is among our favorite true wireless earbuds. Alternatively, the Apple AirPods 2 come in at the same price as the Redemption ANC. While they’re missing active noise cancellation, they have the upper hand in features like comfort and usability. Jabra’s Elite Active 75t also deserve to be in this conversation, offering above-average sound, battery life, and waterproofing.
How long will it last?
House of Marley put an intense focus on the materials it uses to make these buds and even provided insurance with a two-year warranty. The Redemption ANC should be able to last.
Should you buy it?
No. I enjoyed these earbuds, including their active noise cancellation, their outstanding appearance, and the sustainable initiative they were built on. But at the end of the day, they’re an oversized product in need of functional fixes. This love wasn’t meant to be.
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