A travel classic. The best-sounding Bluetooth speaker is also splash-proof, drop-proof and can 60% charge-up a smartphone
A good trip needs a great soundtrack, but why hide music away in your earphones when you can share it? A portable speaker may not be an absolute must for travellers, but the Braven BRV-1 portable Bluetooth speaker has something else up its sleeve that will appeal to all users of smartphones.
The Braven BRV-1 links to a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth, but it’s larger than most at 105x106x162mm. That’s thanks to its integrated 1400mAh battery. However, at 350g it’s hardly heavy. It’s a trade-off between the life of the BRV-1 and your smartphone, but there’s a USB port on the pack to recharge the latter (you can also play music via USB). In with a our test it managed a 60% charge of an iPhone 5s, though effectively killing the BRV-1 to do it. Being a 1-amp connection rather than a 2-amp, it doesn’t work with tablets.
That’s great news in you’re hours away from a recharge without any juice in your smartphone, but the Braven BRV-1 is largely designed for providing a soundtrack to your trip whether you’re planning to lay by a pool, spend evenings on a balcony or camp in the wild.
Great for pool-side music, the Braven BRV-1 can’t be dunked under water, but it can take a splash or two. It’s best thought of as weather-proof, though the rugged design it boasts is pretty rare; you’ll not here see the kind of sleek, minimalist design found on the other Bluetooth speakers. The BRV-1 outdoor speaker – which has a IPX7 waterproof rating – is about as beach friendly as it gets, while a lanyard makes it easy to hold while walking along, too.
The BRV-1’s subwoofers offer the kind of bass you’ll never hear from a smartphone’s speakers. Turned-up really loud (about 95dB), there’s no trace of distortion from its 40mm active drivers and 70mm passive driver subwoofer, while low frequency action remains. OK, so treble detail isn’t amazing, but we’ve never heard this much bass from such a small speaker. As usual, it sounds best on a hard surface.
12 hours of music
Also with a 3.5mm stereo jack and a built-in mic for hands-free calls (hidden underneath a screw-off lid), the BRV-1’s battery charges via microUSB and keeps on going for around 12 hours. There’s also a battery check button that indicates how long the battery has left before it’s empty.
A respectable Bluetooth speaker in every sense, it’s that built-in battery that gives this product the edge over others. However, considering its size and outdoorsy, waterproof nature, the Braven BRV-1 is probably overkill for most of us. Available in black/grey with an orange trim or grey/blue with a white trim.