This year marks the 45th anniversary of Bob Marley’s Exodus, an LP recorded while the reggae legend was exiled in London following an assassination attempt in his home country of Jamaica. Featuring classic tracks such as Jamming, Waiting In Vain and Three Little Birds, it’s an album well worth checking out if you haven’t already – and what more apt piece of kit to play it on than a record player designed in collaboration with the late musician’s own family.
House Of Marley has been making eco-conscious audio products since 2012. But the company’s first – and so far only – record player wasn’t launched until 2017. Crafted from sustainable materials, the Stir It Up ($300/£219.99) is an automatic, belt-drive turntable that comes with a built-in pre-amp, along with USB connectivity for converting your favourite vinyl to digital files.
Technically, House of Marley has made two turntables as there’s also a wireless version of the Stir It Up that costs $340/£249.99.
These are both excellent pieces of kit, but if you want some alternatives, then take a look at our pick of the best record players, the best budget turntables, the best portable record players and the best Bluetooth record players. As for vinyl, we have a list of cheap vinyl records alongside a list of new vinyl releases.
House of Marley Stir It Up review: Design
Hand on heart, the House Of Marley Stir It Up turntable is one of the most stylish we’ve seen – at any price point. Compact, curved and boasting a solid bamboo plinth, it’s really easy on the eye. And since it’s fairly neutral in colour, it should go with just about any kind of home décor you care to mention.
As we mentioned, the House Of Marley Stir It Up turntable is crafted from sustainable materials. Along with that bamboo plinth, there’s a recyclable aluminium alloy platter and, around the edges, a black fabric that’s made of 30% reclaimed organic cotton, 30% reclaimed hemp and 40% recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Drilled into that fabric, on the right-hand side, there’s a headphone/aux socket, while just above that, on the plinth, are the on/off switch and rotary speed selector (45/33rpm).
Sadly, the company’s dedication to sustainability means there’s no plastic cover – instead, the turntable comes with a sheet made of the same fabric that’s attached to the sides. It’s a bit flimsy for our liking, but we suppose it does suit the deck’s organic feel.
One design touch we really like is the Bob Marley quote etched into the metal tonearm. Subtle enough to not be tacky, it gives the House Of Marley Stir It Up turntable an air of collectability.
Setting up the turntable for the first time is pretty straightforward; simply attach the belt, drop the platter on to the spindle and attach the counterweight to the tonearm, and you’ll be reggae to go.
House of Marley Stir It Up review: Features
With all that black fabric attached to the edges, you could be fooled into thinking there’s a speaker built into this turntable. Sadly that’s not the case, although connecting to one is really easy thanks to the phono pre-amp contained inside. Simply hook up the included RCA lead to your amplifier and speakers, and Bob’s your uncle (of course, this process will be even easier if you buy the Stir It Up wireless turntable).
The House Of Marley Stir It Up turntable comes with a USB output that enables listeners to convert their records to digital files on a PC or Mac, ready for playing in the car or on a smart device. For most people, that’s unlikely to be a deal-breaker – after all, you can stream millions of songs in an instant with the likes of Amazon Music and Tidal. However, if your house is stacked high with ultra-rare vinyl, being able to transfer it to a more convenient and robust format is sure to appeal.
Elsewhere, the House Of Marley Stir It Up turntable comes with a replaceable Audio-Technica moving magnet cartridge that features the highly rated ATN3600L stylus; an anti-skating control, plus automatic start/stop functionality.
It’s an impressive range of features for the money, but does it translate to a satisfactory listening experience? Only one way to find out…
House of Marley Stir It Up review: Sound
If you’re a fan of reggae, then you’ll want a turntable that can handle bass. The House Of Marley Stir It Up turntable passed this test with ease, reproducing Marley’s classic Caribbean cuts with power and clarity. Crucially, the Audio-Technica stylus remained in the groove throughout our listening session – testament to the tonearm’s solidity.
Overall, the turntable delivered a warm sound, but that doesn’t mean it lacked punch, and we heard plenty of life in the reggae legend’s 45-year-old tunes. The Stir It Up isn’t perfect, and it was possible to hear traces of distortion at higher volumes. But it’s at least as good as any other deck we’ve heard in this price range, and in some cases much better.
House of Marley Stir It Up review: The alternatives
The House Of Marley Stir It Up turntable is a terrific turntable for the money, but if you don’t like the bamboo finish, there are plenty of great alternatives at a similar price. The slightly cheaper Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT ($149/£179) is a sleek Bluetooth deck that offers a built-in pre-amp and balanced soundstage – though sadly no USB connectivity.
If the ability to convert your records to digital files is essential to you, then consider the Sony PS-HX500 ($359/£359). Combining an eye-catching goth-black look with an ear-catching sound – not to mention built-in phono stage – this turntable is well worth spending the extra money on.