Others sound great.
Very few do both. And almost none combine form and function as effectively as the House Of Marley Stir It Up turntable.
It looks amazing, is made from eco-friendly materials, and it sounds great to boot. Even better: it sells for an incredible price, given all that it delivers.
Does it have any weaknesses? Of course. But they are minor.
If you compare it to a thousand plus dollar, it obviously can’t compete. But it blows away most of the similarly priced competition.
Read the rest of this review to find out if it is the right record player for you.
House Of Marley Turntable: Overview And Features
The modern-styled Stir It Up turntable by House of Marley is a recent release from this up-and-coming audio component company.
If you have not heard of House of Marley, you will undoubtedly start to hear the name dropped more and more in the coming years. They are becoming known for uniquely designed components like headphones and turntables.
In this crowded space it is impressive to see a smaller operation holding their own against the big players like Pioneer and the like.
This is a handsome deck with the usual features you have come to expect on most releases from the past 5 years or so. It has traditional RCA stereo output jacks as well as a USB out port for interfacing with computers and software applications.
It also has an external wall wart style DC power supply instead of the normal AC power cord you may be used to. This is one feature I could do without; wall warts are a pain in the ‘you know what’ and take up more spots on my surge protector.
This is annoying and they could have easily put the DC transformer inside the unit. To be fair, the DC transformer may have added more self-noise if it was inside the unit. This is a minor gripe but needed to be mentioned up front. It is still one of the best turntables on the market today.
- Low self-noise
- Extremely attractive design
- Mindfully sourced materials
- Easy access to jacks and switches
- Great sounding turntable
- Power supply is an annoying wall wart
- Does not have a closing dustcover lid attached (fabric cover only)
Belt Drive Turntable
This has a belt drive movement mechanism which is preferred by most hardcore vinyl fans who use their turntables for listening to records. Djs, on the other hand, tend to prefer direct drive decks, because they are better for scratching or otherwise manipulating the platter.
Belt Drive Vs Direct Drive
The argument for direct drive turntables is that there is no resistance between the motor and the platter which makes manipulating the records during play smoother. If you are not a DJ, chances are you prefer belt drives. The case for belt drives is that they are quieter.
Less noise from the motor makes its way to the needle. The fact that belt drives are quieter is why you see many audiophiles talking smack about direct drive tables. Personally, I only buy belt drives because I listen to my records instead of spinning them and mixing them at house parties.
33 & 45 Rpm Switchable Speed
Two speeds are expected and nothing special to see on a modern turntable. There are still some companies that release 3 speed tables that include 78 rpm for those old brittle shellac dinosaurs. If you have some 1940’s Bing Crosby records you can’t wait to spin… this is not the component for you!
The speed switch itself is a nice matte finish chrome rotary style dial and sits recessed on the top of the unit. This goes well with the rest of the hardware making the overall vibe of the table quite attractive.
Solid Bamboo Plinth
If you are familiar with U-Turn models, you have seen plenty of the woodgrain style plinths on modern record players. This wooden look has become extremely popular lately and seems to be cropping up more and more on new decks.
There is a theory that wood plinths enhance the sound because wood is quite conductive to soundwaves (think of all the wood instruments like guitars and violins).
I cannot confirm that this matters on a record player, but it is possible it enhances the sound. The fact that they used solid bamboo instead of particle board with a bamboo veneer is impressive. It is a nice stylish touch that gives the unit an expensive boutique vibe.
I really like the bamboo plinth for its sexy look, and it is fun to think it makes my records sound better. Figuring out whether it does or not would take way too much time and effort. For now, I am going to go ahead and have my fantasy that it does!
Aluminum Alloy Platter
The platter is made of aluminum alloy which is a very lightweight metal. This metal is not magnetic and will not interfere with the operation or electro magnetic field of the record player.
One of the most obvious benefits to using this material on the platter is that it does not put much strain on the motor or the belt due to its light weight. The belt is usually the first thing to go on a deck like this, especially if you live in a hot dry area.
A nice side bonus of having an aluminum alloy platter is that it looks really good with the rest of the matte silver hardware. You will have to lift the slip mat to see the platter but when you do it is a genuinely nice touch.
Includes Audio Technica MM Cartridge
Audio Technica are well known for making high quality audio cartridges. In fact, I have bought new turntables before and immediately had to replace the cartridge it came with to an AT cartridge.
The fact that this unit comes with one installed out of the box was a nice surprise. The cartridge itself is not the most high-end AT release, but it is a good sounding cartridge and much better than the stock cartridges you get with most competing models in this price range. Plus, you can always upgrade it.
Centralized Location Of Jacks And Switches
This was a really nice surprise for me. There are way too many modern turntables that put the jacks and switches in the easiest place for the manufacturer and put extraordinarily little thought into the end user. House of Marley got it right on the Stir It Up turntable.
The RCA and USB outputs are located right next to the DC power supply input and the preamp on/off switch. This is so nice and convenient when wiring it up or transferring discs to digital formats. The only jack that is not near these on the back is the headphone jack that lives right on the front of the unit (good job, guys)!
Organic Cotton Slip Mat & Other Mindfully Sourced Materials
These days most of us in the vinyl collecting community are very conscious of the planet we live on. I get some peace of mind knowing this company is concerned with the materials they use.
The slip mat is made of organic cotton, the plinth is solid bamboo, the platter is recycled aluminum and the plastic parts are recycled plastic. We have almost come to expect this these days, but it is nice to find out this deck is as eco friendly as it could possibly be.
The slip mat itself is a nice soft cotton that works well and will not scratch your vinyl. It also does not create static like some polyester mats. If it gets too dirty you can wash it with soap and water, just do not toss it in the dryer or it will shrink a bit.
House Of Marley Stir it Up Vs Fluance RT80
Both these units are in the same price range making them direct competitors. So which one is better?
The Fluance RT80 is their entry level model. It has a black piano finish and comes with a plastic dust cover lid that opens and closes on a hinge. It has a boring look to it being all black and there are no real design elements on this one that really stand out.
It is also a 2-speed deck and has a cheap felt slip mat. It comes with a high-quality AT cartridge like the Stir It Up model does. The RT80 only has RCA outputs (no USB) and does not have a headphone jack.
Both units produce exceptionally good sound quality and are made of high-quality materials. You are not going to hear much of a difference between these two turntables, so the sound comparison is really a non-issue.
I prefer the House of Marley Stir It Up over the Fluance RT80 because it has more going for it, plain and simple. It has a much more stylish design, USB output, headphone jack and the solid bamboo plinth all do it for me.
The RT80 has a lid, the Stir It Up does not. That is the only thing I prefer on the RT80 over the House of Marley offering. Fluance has more brand recognition in the industry, but side by side, the Stir It Up beats the RT80 hands down.
You can read all about the RT-80 in our full review.
House Of Marley Stir It Up Turntable: Conclusion And Rating
The House of Marley Stir It Up Turntable is an extremely attractive unit constructed using thoughtfully sourced materials, which is important to me.
It sounds good, especially for a mid-level unit in this price range. Compared to similar turntables it has more options and looks so much better than most of them.
You are not going to get a deadly silent deck for this price, but it’s very quiet and it comes with an AT cartridge (bonus points there). It is a belt drive 2 speed unit that will look very sexy next to your receiver and deliver good sound for not a ton of money.
In short: it is an incredible value for money. I give this unit an outstanding Top Record Players rating of 4.5 out of 5.