April 22 marks a pair of special days on the calendar: Earth Day and Record Store Day. House of Marley has been preparing to launch its first turntable, the sustainably designed Stir It Up, and what better day than April 22? That’s when you can get yours. I’ve been evaluating one for several months, and here’s what you can expect from House of Marley’s first foray into vinyl.
The Classic Turntable Gets a New Look
House of Marley designers used all the sustainable materials in their playbook to create the Stir It Up. The platter is cast from solid, recycled aluminum, the slip mat is Regrind recycled silicon rubber, the plinth is solid bamboo, and the body is covered with black Rewind fabric (30% hemp, 30% organic cotton, and 40% recycled plastic bottles).
The look is modern, warm, and organic. The deck is a little thicker than some turntables, but that’s forgivable because there’s a lot going on inside.
Stir It Up Setup and Performance
Setup is straightforward. Slip the belt on, slip the platter into place, and adjust the tonearm tracking and weight as instructed (the cartridge is pre-installed in a custom shell) and the turntable is ready to go. Next, you have to choose output.
You get multiple choices with the Stir It Up, which makes it a great option for a wide range of budding vinyl enthusiasts.
A headphone jack on the front lets you plug in directly for personal listening. There’s a USB-out port to connect to a PC for recording. You can use standard RCA jack Phono output to a stereo system with Phono input. But what will be of interest to many potential buyers is the integrated pre-amp. This lets you connect the Stir It Up directly to portable/wireless speakers using their AUX input (cable is included)—House of Marley’s own Get Up Stand Up would be a good choice. In fact, most of the time I’ve been using the Stir It Up connected to a portable speaker.
Performance has been very nice for the price. The included Audio Technica AT3600L cartridge is nothing special, but it’s far superior to what you’ll get on most entry level turntables and all-one-one record player systems. It produces decent sound, won’t shred your vinyl, and if you decide to upgrade later on, you can—seriously boosting the capabilities of the Stir It Up.
In other words, the Stir It Up is priced as a premium entry level turntable, but it performs better than most out of the box while offering an upgrade path that doesn’t require buying a new turntable.
It’s worth noting there is physical 33/45 RPM switch. I mention that because the last two turntables I’ve tested require removing the platter and manually switching the belt up to change speeds…
Stir It Up Key Specs
• Belt drive, 45/33 rpm
• (Recycled) solid aluminum alloy platter with Regrind recycled silicon rubber slip mat
• Rigid metal tone arm, adjustable anti-skate and tracking weight
• Audio Technica AT3600L cartridge (replaceable)
• Built-in pre-amp, Phono out, USB to PC recording, 3.5mm front headphone jack
• Solid bamboo plinth
• Rewind up cycled fabric
• MSRP $229 ($249 bundled with Bob Marley Legend LP)
Should You Buy It?
The Stir It Up is uniquely attractive—as many House of Marley products are. The black cloth cover instead of the traditional clear plastic doesn’t do it any favors, but other than that the bamboo and cloth construction make for a very eye-catching combination that looks much more expensive than it is.
If you’re looking for an upgrade from an entry-level record player, or you’re considering a first turntable, the House of Marley Stir It Up is well worth considering. You get a lot of functionality for the money. You can connect it directly to a portable speaker if you wish, it has a stylish design and includes a starter cartridge that offers decent performance with the potential to upgrade the stylus later if you want more detail from your vinyl.
And, like all House of Marley products, Stir It Up is designed to be as Earth-friendly as possible, with sustainably harvested material and recycled material used throughout. Perfect for Both Earth Day and Record Store Day.
The turntable is $229 from House of Marley ($249 for a bundle that includes Bob Marley’s Legend LP), or it’s currently listed for $199.99 on Amazon.
Disclosure: House of Marley provided a Stir It Up review unit.