The Braven BRV-X – durable waterproof Bluetooth audio goodness
So I upgraded from an iPhone5 to the iPhone6 on launch day, kind of… Actually I pre-ordered the iPhone6 at midnight the moment pre-orders were available on AT&T’s site. The phone arrived on launch day but with our family plan the phone that was upgraded was my wife’s number. GAH! So I had to go into the AT&T store to get the numbers switched to the correct phone. That meant standing in a bit of a line in front of the AT&T store, but it went fairly quickly. I had never done the ‘stand in line on launch day’ thing – it was actually kind of a fun social event. The three people in front of me were also getting their numbers switched to the right phone so we laughed about our common plight. We also saw people trying to line jump – with zero success. It was like trying to get into an exclusive night club. They even had a large male employee acting as the bouncer. 😉
So my intentions had been to sell my old phone using Gazelle. I have used Gazelle in the past and it’s a very easy service to use. But once I finally made it inside the store and was being helped by a sales person they asked me what I was going to do with my old phone. I told them my plan and they said “hmmm, this is in very nice shape… hmmm….. do you like music?” and I internally thought “oh here we go, the pitch to sell to them instead…but wait what was that… do I like music?”… I said “Sure, I love music” so the sales person scooted off for a bit.
He then returned with a pair of Beats headphones and a Braven BRV-X portable waterproof Bluetooth speaker. Having multiple pairs of headphones I love I immediately knew I didn’t want the Beats. But, I had been shopping portable speakers recently and never found one I liked. So I did a quick search and found that the Braven sold for $199 on amazon and had 95% five star reviews. I buckled and decided to trade my old iPhone5 16G for the $199 Braven BRV-X. When I walked out of the store I thought maybe I should have just stuck to my guns and sold it on Gazelle but once I got to playing with the Braven that feeling washed away…
I got it all charged up and plopped it on the bed, paired it with my new iPhone 6 (which was super easy), and started playing music. My wife, the skeptic, who thought I had been taken for a ride by the sales person was like “whoa, that sounds really good!”. I played a selection of rock, electronic, and alternative with various kinds of bass and treble emphasis and this little speaker dealt with all of the formats easily. It’s max volume will not blow you over, but it gets loud enough. There are two audio modes: ‘indoors’ – which has an emphasis on good sound quality, and ‘outdoors’ – which puts emphasis on projecting the sound at the cost of some sound quality (it sounds like an EQ adjustment with a lot more mid range). The simple controls on top are on off (3 second long press for on or off), a pairing button, then on the other side volume up and down. Pretty easy. On the bottom are four very sticky feet, as you can see by the cat hairs stuck to them – and a vent for the bass to come out of.
On the back under a screw cap you have the charging ports, 3.5mm audio in port, a reset button (clear all device pairing associations), ‘indoor’ and ‘outdoor’ audio mode switch, and a battery button which shows the battery level on 5 amber LEDs. You can also use the speaker as a charging station using the USB port (that is the only function of the USB port). The cap comes on and off pretty easily – just a quarter turn – but seems to make a good seal to keep water out in the event you want to test how water proof it really is. This thing is built like a tank. Between the super soft rubber exterior and the stout brick like form factor, it feels like it could survive a fall off a tall ladder and be fine. I have not tested that – but it feels sturdy and let’s just leave it at that. 🙂
The 5200mah battery is supposed to sport 12+ hours of Bluetooth audio playback. I have fully charged my iPhone6 off of it today and it only took the battery down to 3 LEDs. So the battery is pretty stout. It weighs in at ~2lbs and is fairly small so you can carry and/or stash in a bag easily. With the strap on you can hang it from just about anything while you work or play.
Another feature, if you buy two of these speakers you can bind both of them to a single device for stereo playback. One speaker plays the left channel and the other plays the right. Pretty nifty, but also kind of a hefty investment of $400 for both speakers. Unless you have two phones to trade AT&T. 🙂
I have personally not tested the waterproof feature of the speaker but all the reviews indicate it lives up to the claims of the manufacturer. Maybe I will turn it into my shower music pal. Who knows. But if you’re in the market for a good portable wireless speaker, this is one to consider. I definitely feel now that it was a worthy trade for my old iPhone. The more I listen to this little speaker the better it sounds. It has a good deal of bass and the audio quality of the ‘indoors’ mode is very well balanced. I admit I don’t have a lot of experience with these small speakers but being an audio enthusiast I trust my ears and I am very impressed with this one.