The Good: Nice retro looks, great sound quality and impressive battery life.

The Bad: Design won’t be to everyone’s taste, limited connectivity and no remote control.

The Bottom Line: A speaker that both looks and sounds the part, with impressive portability.

Toughened glass and polished metal are the staples of modern design, but organic materials are starting to make a comeback. In particular, audio manufacturers are increasingly marrying the beauty of nature with the latest tech. Leading this charge is the eco-conscious House of Marley.

The company’s portable Get Together speaker is predominantly decked out with sustainably-sourced bamboo, giving it a slightly retro, weather-beaten look – but does it manage to avoid sounding rustic?

Design

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Stained bamboo finish on the front.

As with all trend-setters, the Get Together has not been styled with mass appeasement in mind. It looks like the kind of speaker you would find in a VW Camper. In fact, it would look at home on a surfing trip.

The stained bamboo façade on the front and rear appeals to me as a lover of all things natural, and it is thick enough to avoid replicating the appearance of a tacky veneer. That said, the staining turns the bamboo a shade of dark orange, rather than an intense rich brown, which won’t be to everyone’s liking. Everywhere that isn’t bamboo is covered with House of Marley’s REWIND grey fabric, which both adds to the retro feel and further enhances this speaker’s planet-friendliness, given that it is made from reclaimed hemp, organic cotton and recycled plastic bottles. Just as unusually, House of Marley has chosen not to use the standard metal mesh over the speaker apertures, instead opting for a drum skin-like material for a handsome smooth look.

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REWIND grey fabric covers the rest of the speaker.

On top of the unit are the controls, each being a white badge stitched on to the grey fabric. They depress with a plasticky clonk, but at least you know that your command has been registered. There is also an indicator light here, which flashes blue and then holds steady to confirm a secure Bluetooth connection. It is all quite compact and pretty, really.

Functionality

Unlike many speakers in this price range, the Get Together is not equipped with a vast array of tricks. There is no Wi-Fi, AirPlay, NFC or Optical Input, but that is not to say House of Marley has skimped on the essentials. You have three options for feeding tunes into the Get Together — Bluetooth, line-in (a short cable is supplied) and USB. Bluetooth pairing is a simple one-button process, and the USB port also doubles as a charging station for any devices attached. Besides, my general view is that one universally supported form of wireless connectivity is probably enough.

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Inputs found on the rear of the speaker.

It is also worth remembering that this is a truly portable speaker. Inside the Get Together is an internal battery with eight hours of playtime in it, which charges whenever you plug the unit into the mains. Helpfully, a light next to the speaker’s power socket indicates when power is being soaked up.

The only really big gap in the Get Together’s armoury is a remote control. Personally, I’ve never been that bothered by this with Bluetooth speakers, as it is possible to control things from the music-giving device, but not everyone will be so content. However, it seems that the money saved by this omission has been reinvested elsewhere.

Sound

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The Get Together speaker packs two 3.5″ subs and two 1″ tweeters

Judging by the sound of the Get Together, I would say that the reinvestment has gone in to good quality audio components, with House of Marley packing two 3.5″ woofers in with two 1″ tweeters. The sound produced is mightily impressive, avoiding the underwater-style muffling that so often blights small speakers, and those skin-like speaker coverings seem to allow the sound to escape without any great hindrance.

This clarity is most evident in the bass — it isn’t hugely loud, but every note in a deep, complex bass line can be easily distinguished. Meanwhile, the treble is loud but not overly harsh, and the mid-range holds its own somewhere in the middle, with clarity still being the most prominent attribute, even when potentially messy cymbals provide a tricky test. Frequent radio listeners will be glad to note that the spoken word is soothingly rich on the ears, as well.

Verdict

It is clear from any time spent with the Get Together that this speaker has been built to seduce with looks alone. It comes close to being a tad flashy, and not everyone will appreciate the slightly seventies sofa-style grey fabric; but in general, I’m siding with House of Marley’s eye for style.

But the Get Together is a very polished product on a technical level, too. Whilst it is not equipped with every form of connectivity under the sun, nor a remote control, it provides the important basics of audio connection, and offers an impressive battery life, to boot. The sound it kicks out is superb for such a relatively compact unit, and at a RRP of £180, it feels like you’re getting fairly good value.

In summary, the Get Together is a speaker which both looks and sounds the part, made all the more impressive by its portability.

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Mark Myerson

Mark is best known for writing about apps, but he also loves the tactile, hardware side of technology. Being a professional photographer, he's pretty handy with a camera, and he's a self-confessed tweetaholic. Connect with him on Twitter and Google+.