You’re searching for a Bluetooth speaker. They’re everywhere. Amazon is filled with them, and Google returns almost 27,000,000 (yes, twenty-seven million!) results. So, how do you decide what’s right for you?
First, you need to decide on what really matters. Sound quality? Build quality? Battery life? Waterproofing? Braven tried to check all four boxes with its BRV-HD speaker. On paper, it sounds great, but how does it fair in real world situations?
When I first laid eyes on the Braven BRV-HD, the first thing I thought was “industrial.” The aircraft grade aluminum grill is bolted into a body built to take falls and still look great. This thing reminds me of a construction site, and I feel like it would fit in perfectly both on site and sitting around a fire with some friends on a summer night sharing some drinks.
The top of the speaker reveals a ridged design that reminds me of laces on a football. This thing is seriously easy to hold if you have big enough hands. The soft rubber texture provides awesome grip, and it only increases when it gets wet.
Dead center on top, we find a series of five buttons: Power, Call, Play, Minus and Plus. They’re set into the body of the speaker so you have to be looking directly at them in decent light to know what you’re pressing. The buttons don’t stick out like a sore thumb, which is nice, but there needs to be some sort of raised design or color added to the buttons to make them easier distinguish.
This thing is heavy. Really heavy. Braven says it’s over four pounds on its website, and it is every ounce of that. Carrying this in a backpack is the ideal situation. If you’re carrying it by hand or in a smaller handbag, it’s going to be rough. Part of the reason is because the body is so big. 10in x 3in x 4.3in doesn’t sound big, but it’s on the larger side for Bluetooth speakers.
But, that bigger body has its advantages. It houses the two drivers and two passive radiators to put out some serious sound. The best way to describe the sound from the Braven BRV-HD is powerful. It doesn’t hit every note perfectly but does a great job of projecting quality in the spaces it’s needed.
The highs and mids are well represented without being overpowering. You’re not going to hear instruments you’ve never noticed before in a song, but you will get a true representation of what the artist intended the song to sound like. Vocals sound great without outshining the instruments supporting them, and piercing instruments like cymbals don’t overreach into painful territory.
Where the BRV-HD is a bit weak is in the bass at medium to high volumes. You certainly won’t be rattling any windows due to the bass. It is decently represented at lower volumes but fails to scale as the volume climbs.
Songs from artists like Skrillex and Bassnectar felt a bit hollow on close inspection. Here’s the caveat with this observation – I don’t really think it matters that much. This speaker isn’t replacing your home theater system. It’s not replacing your computer speakers or your headphones. It’s for taking to the beach or hanging out with friends. Do you need a ton of bass when you’re having a couple of beers with your friends? I’d say no, and what the BRV-HD does provide is sufficient.
The BRV-HD isn’t all about excellent build quality and good sound quality. There are a ton of features packed in, too. One of my favorites is the ability to charge your phone while you play music through the speaker.
Not enough speakers have this feature. Streaming music can be harsh on your battery, and you probably don’t need an entire 28 hours of streaming battery life out of the BRV-HD in one sitting, so why not use some of that juice for your phone? The speaker packs an 8800 mAh battery inside, which is good for two full charges on your Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and plenty of battery left over for the speaker itself.
The BRV-HD is IPX3 certified, which in layman’s terms, means that it can withstand splashes. This isn’t something you want to try and drown to show off how cool it looks underwater or see what Nero sounds like from the bottom of a pool. Take it to the beach and feel good about being able to take it home in working condition.
Braven didn’t settle for the BRV-HD just being a good speaker. It’s a great speakerphone too. While there can be some interference when you answer a call while connected to the speaker, my experience overall was a positive one due to the noise-cancelling microphone.
If you’re in the market for a truly wireless experience, you can daisy-chain two Braven speakers (BRV-HD or Braven 8 series only) together. Unfortunately, I don’t have two so I can’t test this feature out myself, but if you have the cash, this is a really compelling selling point.
There are a million Bluetooth speakers out there. Everyone claims to be the best. Everyone claims to have stellar build quality and the best audio quality. Of course, they would, right? It’s all marketing speak.
But then, you run into a company like Braven. Braven’s BRV-HD speaker is marketed as a speaker that plays high-definition audio for 28 hours and has the build quality to take anything thrown at it. No hyperbole. No “we’re the best speaker in the history of sound”. They just deliver.
They’re certainly not perfect, but no one is. The bass could be a bit better represented and if the body could withstand a three-year old’s crayons, that would be wonderful, but this is truly a rugged, loud Bluetooth speaker worthy of the asking price.