I previously took a close look at the Marley No Bounds Waterproof Bluetooth Wireless Speaker and was delighted by its construction, form factor and sound quality for its size. In addition to that entry-level speaker, Marley also has two other speakers in the same family, the mid-range Marley No Bounds Sport and the higher-end Marley No Bounds XL. Throughout my review, I will break down the family’s commonalities and go into detail on the ups and downs of both the Sport and XL models.
The Marley No Bounds family of speakers
As stated previously, Marley has three offerings in the Marley No Bounds family of speakers. The two speakers that are the focus of this article, the Marley No Bounds Sport and the Marley No Bounds XL have a lot of great features in common, including great design, recyclable materials, waterproofing, buoyancy and great packaging. We’ll also share the main pain point shared by the two speakers.
The design of the Marley No Bounds Sport and XL
The first thing that you will notice when you take either of these speakers out of the box is their design: it is striking. Featuring a bold House of Marley logo and not much else, these speakers fit very nicely on a table, on a bathroom counter or outside by the pool. If you want to hang the devices up on a hook or doorknob, you can also do so by using the included carabiner hook in the box. Even the Marley No Bounds XL weighing nearly four pounds can be “hooked-up” using this feature.
For those that try their best to reduce their carbon footprint, both of the speakers featured in this review are composed of recyclable/reclaimed materials. These devices were built using Marley’s proprietary materials like REGRIND™ Silicone and REGRIND™ Cork. REGRIND™ Silicone is made from discarded and recycled silicone whereas REGRIND™ Cork is material harvested from trees in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.
Marley No Bounds speakers are waterproof and buoyant
Being made from these materials has its benefits: the speakers are waterproof and buoyant. When taking these devices to the beach or the pool, their IP-67 rating means they’ll be protected from dust and liquids. In addition to offering full protection from dust, IP-67 rated devices can be submerged in water of a meter in-depth for up to 30 minutes. However, they won’t be submerged for long because of their buoyancy. The cork at the base of the Sport model and the back of the XL model keep it from sinking. If your speaker does get wet, you will likely notice a distorted sound, but once the speaker dries—the quality of your sound should return to normal. The drop in sound quality makes these devices impractical to float in the pool or bath—but is a nice insurance policy should you accidentally knock it into the water.
Marley No Bounds packaging
Even the packaging of these units was given thought from my estimation. The packaging of the Marley No Bounds XL, for instance, contained very little plastic (just on the handle of the craft box). The inside of the box contained the bare minimum amount of packaging materials: just two pulp trays to stabilize the speaker in the box, a thin bag to protect the speaker in transit, along with a small instruction manual and charge cables housed in some cardboard. I do wish that the No Bounds Sport ditched the plastic window that allows you to see the product in-store, but both of these speakers used less packaging waste than other consumer electronics devices that I have had the chance to play with.
Bad buttons on the Marley No Bounds speakers
I’ll come straight out and say it: these devices have bad buttons. Not only are they small, but most of the buttons are integrated directly into the main body of the speaker. They also match the colour of the speaker’s body, which makes them hard to use in low-light situations. Furthermore, the top buttons on the Marley No Bounds Sport are especially difficult to use or even locate as they are no larger than a few millimetres across. On a separate note, the back buttons on the same unit looked cheap compared to all of the other design aspects in the whole line.
Breaking down the differences between No Bounds speakers
I have spoken about their commonalities, but below is the breakdown of each speakers’ strengths and weaknesses.
Marley No Bounds Sport
We begin the breakdown of these two units by looking at the mid-range Marley No Bounds Sport. At the size of a tall beverage can (approximately 10 x 10 x 20 cm), the biggest advantages to this device are its 360-degree sound profile, its sound quality and added convenience factors.
Much like other 360-degree speakers, you will be able to hear this speaker irrespective of your positioning vis-a-vis the unit. And for its size, this speaker sounds great. The sound is bright (heavier on the mid and high-frequency sounds), but you can still hear the bass through it. Just don’t expect to throw a huge party and use this as your main sound source; at its highest volume settings, there is distortion in sounds played via Bluetooth. You will get around 12 hours of battery life from this speaker.
Finally, the No Bounds Sport has a few small convenient features that separate it from the other members of the No Bounds family of speakers: the “twist” volume control and the false bottom. To adjust the volume on the unit, you simply need to lightly twist the ring around the top of the Marley No Bounds Sport. Since this ring is free-spinning, a helpful chime will sound when you have reached the maximum volume, for instance. The bottom of the device can also be removed to store the included charge cable.
It is also worth mentioning that the entire series of speakers from this line (the Marley No Bounds, No Bounds Sport and No Bounds XL) all have the capability to take phone calls via Bluetooth. The sound quality on these calls was adequate.
Marley No Bounds XL
The big brother of the family is the Marley No Bounds XL. This speaker has a few distinct features that set it apart: a USB charging feature, great battery life, large size, and bass-heavy sound profile.
The speaker’s charging feature is built into the back of the unit. If you ever needed to charge your phone (a very useful feature for a Bluetooth speaker)—just uncover the USB port in the back of the system and charge away. The Marley No Bounds XL has an impressive 16-hour battery life meaning that running your phone off the speaker for the day during playback shouldn’t be a problem.
The speaker is a little larger and heavier than the other speakers in the No Bounds series. If you’re looking for a speaker to put on a shallow ledge or take up a small space on a counter, this may not be right for you. With its weight, comes a very bass-heavy speaker. I found the bass to overwhelm the mid-frequency sounds when listening to music at higher volumes. Male speakers on spoken word podcasts will sound great, but while listening to music, you will lose a lot of the detail in the mid-frequency sounds of the speaker. Rock n’ roll might work fine, but if you’re looking to appreciate mid-range instrumental nuance in your favourite electronic music track, you may want to look elsewhere.
Final thoughts on the Marley No Bounds Sport and XL
Overall, these are good speakers.
Due to its striking design, use of recyclable materials and good sound quality—the Marley No Bounds Sport is a good speaker to consider. If you’re looking for a speaker with good power for its footprint, you may want to add the Marley No Bounds XL to your list, but just remember its sound profile is bass heavy.
To learn more about smaller Marley No Bounds speaker, you can check out my review here, and to see all of the offerings from House of Marley, you can browse the Marley Store at Best Buy Canada’s website.