The Bluetooth portable speaker has become the go-to compact home stereo system for many people. It’s affordable, great for smaller spaces like apartments or dorms, wireless (except for the power cable), and it’s portable. There is only one issue; a single speaker is “mono” even if it employs multiple drivers and processing tricks to sound like more, so you can’t really call a Bluetooth speaker “stereo.” That’s all changed with House of Marley’s new Get Together Duo Bluetooth bookshelf speakers. You get a portable Bluetooth speaker with the true stereo performance of a pair of bookshelf speakers.
Here’s how House of Marley accomplished this audio magic.
Two bookshelf speakers, one a portable speaker in disguise
With any powered bookshelf speaker, one is designated as the main speaker. This one houses the amplifier and any electronics (like the Bluetooth radio), and it’s connected to the second speaker using a cable—usually two or three metres in length.
House of Marley (HoM) started with a pair of powered bookshelf speakers, and one is the designated main speaker. It comes with a power adapter. Nothing new there.
However, I was a little confused when I first unboxed the Get Together Duo speakers because there was a second power unit, and no cable for physically connecting the two speakers.
This wasn’t a packaging mishap. It’s because HoM took a very unique design approach. The second speaker is also equipped with its own amplifier and Bluetooth. And, it has a battery. The second power unit is actually a USB-C charger. What about the missing speaker cable? These speakers connect to each other using Bluetooth.
When it’s all set up, you have a pair of bookshelf speakers, connected wirelessly. The only cables are the power adapters. Without the cable between speakers, you can place them pretty much wherever you want (within Bluetooth range) without worrying about running out of cable or having to hide the connecting cable. When you want to take music on the deck or to a friend’s, just grab the battery-powered right Get Together Duo speaker and take it with you.
How well does the House of Marley design work?
This sounds pretty ingenious, but how well does HoM’s design work? In a word, it’s seamless.
The connectivity between the speakers is surprisingly straightforward and seemed robust. Power one on, then the second. Wait a moment and one will announce it is the left channel, the other says it is the right. At this point, if you check the Bluetooth sources on your smartphone (or tablet, or PC), you’ll see a single entry for Get Together Duo. Select it, and music plays in stereo. Hit the volume buttons on either speaker and both react. Power one off, and the other automatically powers down. It’s a very straight forward and easy process.
Get Together Duo key specs:
How do these bookshelf Bluetooth speakers sound?
The two-in-one magic is handy, but any music fan is going to want to know how these sound.
It helps if you think of these as a pair of portable speakers in a compact bookshelf speaker form factor. They aren’t going to outperform a good pair of standalone bookshelf speakers. But where portable speaker manufacturers (including HoM) often include the ability to pair two identical Bluetooth speakers for stereo sound (but who ever buys two?), the Get Together Duo speakers formalize this capability.
If you’re at all familiar with House of Marley’s “signature sound” then you know what to expect. Energetic music with a healthy dose of bass. The Get Together Duo speakers use a dual-driver design that produces music that’s enjoyable to listen to and with plenty of volume (about 50% is as loud as I can stand it in my office).
A good portable speaker in the same price range as these will likely have more drivers for a little more detail and some digital processing magic to simulate depth. The downside is it will lack true stereo audio. And for me, the depth and sound stage you get from true stereo sound adds more to the listening experience.
As a portable Bluetooth speaker, the Get Together Duo more than holds its own. It’s a solid portable with long battery life, plenty of energy, and all the volume you’re likely to need. Just don’t drop this one in a pool—you won’t find many bamboo speakers that are waterproof.
Get Together Duo sound great + an emphasis on sustainability
I love the look of House of Marley products (I’m a sucker for natural wood), and the Get Together Duo speakers definitely make a visual impression. The natural bamboo and contrasting black cloth covers are going to get a lot of complements.
The cool thing is the great looks come with serious green cred. House of Marley is big on environmental sustainability. The packaging is eco-friendly and recyclable, the speakers feature CNC-machined bamboo, and the REWIND fabric is a blend of 30% reclaimed organic cotton, 30% reclaimed hemp, and 40% recycled PET.
House of Marley Get Together Duo will be the centre of your compact stereo system
The Get Together Duo speakers have you covered with Bluetooth streaming. But powered bookshelf speakers are often used as the heart of a compact home audio system, and these speakers are equipped to do just that. Each speaker has an AUX input and RCA Line in so you can physically connect an external audio source such as a turntable.
House of Marley would like to suggest you pair this with its Stir It Up Bluetooth turntable. That way you can spin your vinyl in stereo without having to physically connect the speaker. I previously reviewed the Stir It Up and it’s a nice turntable—too bad I didn’t still have the sample here to try out with the Get Together Duo bookshelf speakers.
I should point out that these would also make a great set of computer speakers (you could even connect with Bluetooth), offering quality stereo sound in a compact form factor with minimal wires.
Are there any downsides?
There is a lot going on with these speakers, so are there any areas where they stumble?
There is a scenario I ran into where the battery is very low and I’m trying to use them as bookshelf speakers. Everything works fine—being connected to the charger is the same as being plugged in to power—but until the battery is charged past the critical stage, every few minutes the system plays a vocal low battery warning over top of the music. It soon stops, but it’s annoying.
It can also be confusing when connecting an external music source using the RCA line-in and AUX inputs. There are multiple ways of doing so, with some methods resulting in Mono playback of the source instead of Stereo. The first few times you connect a source, keep a close eye on the instructions in the manual to make sure you do it correctly.
Get Together Duo offers you a unique proposition
Compact, powered bookshelf speakers can be the starting point for a rewarding audio system that saves space and costs less than buying separate components. The House of Marley Get Together Duo Bluetooth bookshelf speakers accomplish this, while offering the unique style combination of bamboo and black fabric. I suspect a lot of people will like these just for the looks alone.
Bluetooth connectivity cuts the wire between speakers for greater flexibility in positioning the speakers. And nothing is more flexible than being able to pick up one of the Get Together Duos and take it with you as portable Bluetooth speaker.