review

House of Marley Liberate Air Earphones Made With Bamboo

Friday, November 08, 2019

They say variety is the spice of life and that, certainly, seems to be the House Of Marley ethos when releasing the Liberate Air, which are a pair of true wireless earbuds with a bamboo twist!
 Aesthetically, the House Of Marley Liberate Air are in a league of their own, using bamboo and wood fiber composite for a distinct wood-grain look. The top of the charging case is covered with 100% recycled PET fabric material, while the bottom half is made of recycled plastic with a paint splatter finish effect.
The middle section of the charging case features a fabric leatherette strap that goes over the body of the charging case with an aluminium clasp at the end that is shaped with the House of Marley logo.
The "over the body leather strap" design of the charging case makes it quirky looking and reminiscent of a wooden trunk chest.
On the bottom left corner of the charging case, there are four tiny battery status leds that are powered by simply tapping on the case, which is convenient. The back of the charging case is home to the USB-C charging port (with rubber cover), as well as a button that is designed to manually pair both earbuds and unpair them when used in mono mode.
Speaking of mono mode, the small tiny holes located on either side of the earbuds contain the microphones so, you get a microphone on each earbud.
microphone holes
Dual microphone wireless earbuds always perform better in terms of clarity and amplification for calls and, the Liberate Air earbuds are no exception. The fact that you can use either earbud as a mono bluetooth headset is a huge plus too, considering most true wireless earbuds don't offer this feature.
leds
The Liberate Air earbuds also feature two "low battery" alerts in the form of a voice prompt and led, which will flash white when the earbud battery is running low.
Inside the charging case itself, there is more bamboo outlining the docking area while giving a nice contrast with the black hard plastic.
The docking pod area where the earbuds are placed is magnetized, preventing the earbuds from ever falling out should the lid be left open accidentally. The charging case lid is securely closed via magnets also.
The Liberate Air charging case has also been designed with a very useful function that triggers the earbuds to pair to each other when the charging case lid is opened. With most true wireless earbuds, earbud inter-pairing only takes place after removing them from the charging case; hence the Liberate Air makes the pairing process even faster.
The Liberate Air earbuds introduce another feature you don't get with most true wireless earbuds and that is master/slave switching. This means, the Liberate Air earbuds can be both master and slave, allowing them to be used independently from each other.
The earbud connectivity from stereo to mono is super seamless. You can place either earbud back in and out of the charging case without losing connection to the master earbud. For mono use, you do have to take one earbud out of the case and leave the other earbud inside the case with the lid closed to prevent both earbuds from pairing to each other.
The materials used in the construction of the House of Marley Liberate Air earbuds include bamboo, recycled aluminium and black silicone rubber (also recycled), which covers 90% of the earbud driver housing. Aluminium has been used for the tips of the nozzles, while bamboo has been used for the front panel which features a small etching of the House of Marley logo and a circular groove.
The front panel circular groove integrates a g-sensor accelerometer, which works similarly to capacitive touch sensing but relying more on tapping than touching. The g-sensor acts, basically, as a physical button but instead of pressing you tap. Based on the number of taps, the sensor triggers different commands such as play or skip track forward.
Housed inside the House of Marley Liberate Air earphones are 5.6mm speaker drivers with 103dB sensitivity; hence the volume level can be turned up very high. There is no volume support from the earbuds though, so you have to control the volume from the phone, which isn't as convenient.
The Liberate Air fit comfortable in the ears and will stay in the ears during normal activities as the earbuds don't weigh too much, only 7 grams each. You can even use them for light jogging as they have IPX4 sweat resistance. However, if you plan to do more strenuous activities with them, the fit won't be as secure because there are no ear wings and the nozzle body is short; hence the tips don't go in too deep in the ear canal.
The House of Marley Liberate Air also support SBC, aptX and AAC bluetooth codecs, which is great news for iPhone users who like watching videos on the YouTube app. Without AAC support, the audio in videos gets out of sync.
With aptX and AAC support, the House of Marley Liberate Air earbuds are able to stream high resolution audio. The treble is crisp but not too sharp and the bass is fairly deep without being overly boomy, allowing the vocals in the midrange not to be recessed.
Over-the-air (OTA) firmware updates is another feature that is listed in the marketing specs of the Liberate Air earbuds. Not all wireless earbuds integrate OTA updates, which is useful because it allows wireless earphones to be updated with bug fixes, sound improvements and/or new features.
What's not clear about the Liberate Air firmware support is how this would be done because OTA updates are usually done via a mobile app and the Liberate Air earphones don't currently have a companion app.
Speaking of wireless, the House of Marley Liberate Air integrate the latest version of bluetooth, bluetooth 5.0. If you pair the earbuds to a bluetooth 5.0 phone, you will get all the benefits of bluetooth  5.0, which include better and more stable bluetooth signal.
Longer range and longer battery life are two other benefits of bluetooth 5.0. How much signal range and battery life you get does depend on the company making the wireless earphones and how they tweak their hardware. Bluetooth 5.0 is more efficient so, it can boost the wireless signal further than the standard 10 meter range without consuming too much power.

The wireless range of the House of Marley Liberate Air is 10 meters, while battery life is up to 9 hours on 50% volume and around 3.5 hours on 100% volume, which isn't the longest. But, thanks to quick charge support, the Liberate Air earbuds 60 mAh batteries can be charged from 0% to 80% in just 30 minutes, giving you 4 hours of use. Full charge from 80% to 100% takes a further 90 minutes.
The charging case charges the Liberate Air earbuds, using 5V/400mA charge via three metal charging contacts, which helps speed up the charging process. The included charging case will extend the playtime of the Liberate Air earbuds even further as it can hold 23 hours worth of charge via an internal 550 mAh capacity battery, which takes 2 hours to charge from 0% to 100%.
While the charging case uses USB-C connection, the maximum input has been limited to 5V/500mA; hence using a fast charging wall charger won't speed up the charging of the case, which weighs 58 grams.
The House of Marley Liberate Air earbuds also come with different size ear tips, a House Of Marley sticker and a fabric braided USB-A to USB-C charging cable. A 2 year warranty is also included in the package.

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