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House Of Marley Positive Vibration XL ANC Review Comparison Against Older Model

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

According to science, the human body vibrates at a frequency, which changes according to our thought pasterns. The higher the frequency the more positive vibrations, and the lower the frequency the more negative vibrations. This, probably, explains why sometimes we get a " bad energy" from someone or a good feeling from someone like Bob Marley whose music makes you feel at ease. The world is, indeed, in need of extra positive vibration and inner calm, which the House Of Marley delivers on with an active noise cancellation (ANC) version of the older model - the Positive Vibration XL.


Aside from ANC functionality, the Positive Vibration XL ANC has longer battery life, better call quality and are better sounding than the older model. The Positive Vibration XL ANC headphones are mostly made of black anodized aluminium metal, including the earcup housing, headband yoke and hinge folding mechanism, which also swivels, allowing the earcups to rotate flat. The stem of the headband yoke is also metal and retracts into the headband frame via a ratchet mechanism. The headband frame, itself, is made of plastic.

Aside from metal and plastic construction, there is also wood accents, as well as canvas fabric covering the top of the headband which measures 3cm wide. The underside of the headband has springy foam padding (1.5cm thick) covered with softer canvas fabric. The earcups also incorporate exposed braided cabling and large grilled mesh for bass performance. The earcups can be tilted, although the range of motion is still very limited. The inner hole measures 6cm high and 3.5cm wide at the centre so, the oval shape of the hole is slightly larger and deeper than on the old model. The earpad memory foam is cushiony and covered with soft protein leather. The 40mm drivers have a 2cm depth and are padded, unlike the old model.

Another improvement you get with the new Positive Vibration XL ANC headphones is longer runtime. The old model only manages 24 hours, while the new ANC version manages 26 hours with ANC turned on (50% volume) and 32 hours with ANC turned off, which is close to the 28 hour ANC performance of the more expensive Exodus ANC headphones. That said, the Exodus does have larger drivers (50mm) and can manage up to 80 hours without ANC, which is phenomenal battery life. The Positive Vibration XL ANC headphones support quick charge also, although you only get 2 hours playtime from a quick re-charge; whereas the old model manages 4 hours of playtime from a quick charge. That said, the Positive Vibration XL ANC headphones have the same 2 hour charging time.

The Positive Vibration XL ANC headphones are also equipped with large (clicky sounding) physical buttons for controlling the volume, power, play/pause, skipping of tracks, voice assistant and incoming calls. The buttons are rubberized and tactile, thanks to the raised imprint in the centre. On the left earcup, you find two smaller rubberized buttons for ANC mode and monitor mode, which is essentially a transparency mode that lets outside noise into the earcups so, you don't have to remove the headphones when talking to people. When enabled, monitor mode lowers the volume of the audio too.

The bluetooth status led flashes blue during audio playback, while the ANC status led lights up solid green when active noise cancellation is enabled. The ANC function does work in wired mode too, although the ANC status led does not light green like it does when using ANC in bluetooth mode. Speaking of bluetooth, the Positive Vibration XL ANC headphones do not support absolute bluetooth volume, which is handy for controlling the volume of the device the headphones are connected to. You will hear an audible beep when maxing out the volume.

Enabling ANC seals the sound inside the earcups, making the bass deeper and the higher tones sharper, which in turn makes the sound more clear and immersive. The Positive Vibration XL ANC bluetooth 5.0 chip only supports SBC (no aptX or AAC), just like the old model. Multipoint pairing connection is not supported either. With ANC turned off, the Positive Vibration XL ANC headphones sound superb, just like the old model, which has a well balanced midrange that lets you clearly hear the timbre of instruments.

The included detachable audio cable has a small inline single button remote/microphone plastic box that measures 3cm long, 0.7cm wide and 0.7cm thick. The audio cable looks and feels premium quality and it's branded. The single button remote is clicky and made of plastic and controls calls (answer/reject/end), play/pause, skip tracks next/previous and voice assistant. The audio cable has a semi-rigid braided construction, weighing 14 grams and measuring 1.2 meters long. The audio cable has a right-angle plug connector and a straight plug connector side, which has to be connected into the headphones. For some reason the right angle connector side doesn't make proper contact when plugged into the headphones so, the audio sounds muffled/distorted.

The 3.5mm audio port, itself, is passive, which means you can use the Positive Vibration XL ANC headphones when the battery runs out, unlike headphones with active audio ports.That said, the Positive Vibration XL ANC headphones won't work at all during charging. The included charging cable weighs 19 grams and measures 1.2 meters long.

Being hybrid ANC, the Positive Vibration XL ANC headphones integrate two microphones per earcup. One of those ANC microphones is located on the outer shell of the earcups, just below the chrome House Of Marley logo, while the other ANC microphones are located inside the earcups. This is the same basic setup you get with all hybrid ANC headphones/earbuds. The Positive Vibration XL ANC headphones have an extra microphone for calls (next to the bluetooth status led); hence a total of five microphones. During calls, the ANC microphones are designed to turn on, which cuts down unwanted noise. The overall call quality is much better than with the old model. 

The Positive Vibration XL ANC headphones have very good passive noise isolation, thanks to the memory foam earpads (1.5cm thick) and earcup metal construction, which does a good job at keeping the audio sound in and outside noise out; hence very little sound leakage (same as the old model). The Positive Vibration XL ANC headphones weigh 314 grams and feel comfortable to wear for a good stretch, although they are 60 grams heavier than the old model. You can buy the Positive Vibration XL ANC from amazon.

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