Rugged devices often result in a bulky design. Just take a look at any ruggedized smartphone, compare it to its fragile counterpart and you’ll likely agree. Moreover, their functionality is of a lesser class, offering fewer option and all together pizzaz. But that’s hardly the case of Braven’s BRV-1, one of our best Bluetooth speakers, which bucks the aforementioned trend.
Consider as one of the best portable bluetooth speaker, the Braven BRV-1 is PX5-certified water-resistant and shock-absorbent. So it can withstand splashes of water (rainfall and spills), though don’t dunk it into the pool or bathtub, as it will likely short out. Core functionality of the speaker is to a large degree not much different from that of any Bluetooth speaker – it works up to 30 feet and connects to just about any smart device that can fire music via Bluetooth (A2DP protocol required).
Aside from the back and front, the BRV-1 is covered in rubber, added some protection, as well as grip when you hold it in hand. A set of standard buttons cover the top, which include power, volume plus and minus, and a Bluetooth pairing button. Holding down the volume buttons for more than a second causes the track to skip forward or backwards, which is a nice feature if you don’t have your handset in arms reach.
When powered on the BRV-1 emits a tone and does the same when powered down – the tones are different to indicate what is happening accordingly. Meanwhile an LED light on the front of the speaker, just above the grill, illuminates to indicate when it has been turned on.
Playing back music on the BRV-1 is an astoundingly pleasurable experience given its relatively small size. It’s slightly larger than Logitech UE’s $100 speaker, yet reproduces a fair bit more of the audio spectrum thanks to the two 1-9/16″ full-range drivers – there is also a passive bass port – and 3 watts of power per channel. It’s difficult to refect its amplitude in words, but given its diminutive size (just shy of 2lbs), it’s impressive to say the least.
Adding further allure, beyond its audio quality, is the on board battery. Needless to say it is rechargeable and can be used to power the speaker itself. Unscrew the water tight cap and you’ll reveal a USB port that allows for charging of any 5V 1 amp device. To keep tabs on the battery, there are 4 LED lights that illuminate with you push of the check battery button. All in all its a nice feature, and makes the Braven BRV-1 all the more useful, especially for trips to the lake, pool, or beach.
So, to be candid, I’m rather surprised by the Braven BRV-1. It’s small, relatively lightweight, rugged, and produces top quality sound that many would believe comes from a larger speaker. Moreover, it can charge up your 5V devices in the event you run low on juice.
However, the price is probably a bit steep at $180. That isn’t to say it’s not worth your hard-earned cash, but given its small size, outward looking in, many would expect it to cost probably just north of $100, not just south of $200. Just keep in mind that it serves as a battery bank (good for up to 12 hours of playback on a single charge) and includes a speaker phone with a noise canceling mic.
Bottom Line: a tough as nails Bluetooth speaker that delivers smooth and rich sound equitable to a larger speaker.
- Excellent sound quality for its size
- Backup battery for 5v devices
- Very portable and waterproof
- Pricey; $180
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