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Portable speakers can be a godsend for increasing the volume and fidelity of sound from your Bluetooth-enabled devices. However, not all devices can withstand the trials and tribulations of being used in outdoor or rugged environments. Enter the new Marley No Bounds Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker. In this review, we deconstruct the elements of this speaker that make it shine: the device’s thoughtful form factor, reclaimed and recyclable construction, a solid & waterproof build quality and buoyancy while also examining its sound quality.

Marley No Bounds waterproof speaker

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The Marley No Bounds speaker is small at about the size of a hockey puck. At 277 grams, the speaker can fit very nicely in the palm of your hand. A lot of thought was given to the design of the speaker because it looks great and is mostly easy to use. Two examples of good design are the cork bottom and the integrated carabiner. The speaker features a symmetrical shape with a cork bottom. Built into the bottom is a ring of silicone that acts as the foot of the speaker. This “foot” makes it so that the speaker will not move, even on a slightly angled surface. If you’re not in a position to put the speaker down on a flat surface, the carabiner hook will allow you to hang the speaker to a backpack, tree branch, hook or door knob.

My only knock against the design of the Marley No Bounds speaker lies within the device’s buttons. There are a total of five buttons on the unit: three on the right side (volume up, volume down and play/pause) and two on the left side (power and Bluetooth). The buttons are flush with the unit itself and are the same colour as the main body of the device. This can make the speaker impossible to use in low light and even a little difficult to use in scenarios that are well-lit. A white outline on the unit’s buttons could have solved this minor issue.

Reclaimed, recyclable material in Marley No Bounds

The speaker is well designed and features solid construction. What separates the Marley No Bounds speaker from the pack is its use of recyclable materials. Three of the materials that make up the bulk of its construction are the Marley REWIND™ Fabric, REGRIND™ Silicone and REGRIND™ Cork. Beginning first with the REWIND™ Fabric, this material contains reclaimed organic cotton & hemp as well as recycled PET. PET or polyethylene terephthalate is a widely used polymer found in food containers and clothing, for example. The Marley No Bounds Bluetooth speaker also features REGRIND™ Silicone. This material is made by reclaiming silicone from waste streams that would have otherwise been discarded. The body of the unit is also composed of REGRIND™ Cork. This component is collected using methods that are environmentally-friendly and keep the source tree alive post-harvest.

Purchasing this Bluetooth speaker also makes a small positive impact on the environment as every House of Marley product funds the planting of a tree through the company’s One Tree Planted Partnership.

A waterproof and buoyant design

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In addition to being environmentally friendly with a great build quality, the Marley No Bounds is also waterproof and fully buoyant. The cork construction, mentioned previously, is not only antimicrobial and helps cut down on vibration but also allows the speaker to float when tossed into water. I tested this feature extensively as I floated around a pool with the speaker playing tunes and podcasts while I relaxed. If the speaker does get submerged or splashed by mistake, the IP67-rated device will keep on ticking. When submerged completely under the water, the device will stop playing momentarily, but will continue playback as soon as the speaker re-emerges from under the water. The speaker’s IP67 rating means that the device can be submerged in up to a metre of water for 30 minutes. I would strongly suggest that you limit your Marley No Bounds’ aquatic adventures to showers, baths and hanging on land at the pool or the beach.

Audio quality: Marley No Bounds

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When moving to the sound quality, this is definitely the least impressive part of the Marley No Bounds package. It delivers an incredible high quality external package on the outside (even packaging is great), but the sound quality is very average for this price point. The speaker is small and like many other speakers in this form factor, it sacrifices high-fidelity bass in order to achieve a small size.

While testing at average volumes, the speaker performs well. High frequency sounds were great, mid-frequency sounds were good and bass was okay. So if you’re playing this speaker at a small gathering, while studying, or in the shower, this gadget should suit your needs really well.

But if you’re looking for a speaker to deliver big sound, you should consider other options in the Marley line of portable Bluetooth speakers like the Marley No Bounds Sport or the Marley No Bounds XL. When you crank the Marley No Bounds to its maximum volume, the sound gets quite hollow and the bass overpowers and muddies the rest of the sound.

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The other features of the Marley No Bounds are pretty standard. The speaker is very easy to connect/disconnect from Bluetooth devices and you can make hands-free phone calls as well. Receiving calls is a handy feature when your phone is connected to the speaker and the audio quality on phone calls is very average for a Bluetooth speaker. You should get ten-hours of audio playback between charges and the unit charges via the well-hidden micro-USB port on the left side of the device.

Marley No Bounds: perfect speaker for outdoors-types

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Despite an average sound quality, this speaker is the perfect Bluetooth device for the great outdoors. Clip it on your backpack for a long hike, toss it in the sand while you work out on the beach or set it on the table by the pool and you won’t have to worry about the elements ruining the device. The Marley No Bounds speaker and its high quality construction will keep your audio of choice going for the entire day before needing another charge.

Pick up the new wireless Marley No Bounds Bluetooth speaker at Best Buy or find out more about Marley’s products at Best Buy’s House of Marley Store.