Braven BRV-X waterproof portable Bluetooth® speaker review
Is it really the "world's best outdoor speaker"?
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The Braven BRV-X is built to survive the elements.
Braven bills the BRV-X Bluetooth speaker as the “world’s best outdoor speaker.” Bold claim, but maybe that’s what it takes to compete against the top sellers from the name brands.
The BRV-X certainly looks rugged. It boasts a shock-resistant rubber exterior with metal grilles that protect two full-range drivers and a passive bass radiator.
When you screw on the hard plastic outlet cap, the speaker is IXP7 certified waterproof. This means it can survive immersion in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. Remove the cap, and you’ll find a USB port to charge your phone. It claims 12 hours of battery life, so you can charge your phone and still have plenty of juice left for music.
The BRV-X lives in a crowded price range that includes the popular Bose® SoundLink® Mini Bluetooth® speaker. To stand out, it needs to keep its promise of outdoor superiority and deliver solid sound. Is it up to both tasks?
The inputs and battery indicator are found under the waterproof cap. You also have the option to choose “Indoor” or “Outdoor” mode.
Putting the speaker to the test
Earlier this summer, I got my hands on the BRV-X. I gripped it in one palm and it’s solid as a brick. The speaker felt light for its size. It measures 9-1/16"W x 3"H x 3-3/4"D and weighs 1.5 pounds.
It comes with two straps. Either can be threaded through the blue aluminum posts on either side of the speaker. Let it hang from your wrist or cinch it up to your backpack, handlebars, or a tree.
Bringing it to the great outdoors
My wife and I were about to take our two-year-old to Lake Moomaw, Virginia for her first camping trip. We thought some tunes might help keep her entertained. I borrowed the BRV-X to see how it handled a real fresh-air excursion.
Before setting up camp, we went down to the lake’s beach area. The BRV-X held its own against the sand blowing in the wind. We opened the waterproof cap later and detected no sand particles underneath.
Back at the camp area, we used the BRV-X to charge our phones. By the time we had a fire built and grilled hot dogs over the open flame, my wife’s iPhone went from about 9% to about 74% charged.
We decided to play a little background music while we ate dinner and sat around the fire.
Playing the BRV-X “in the wild”
After I pushed the play/pause button built into the rubber enclosure, I heard the familiar Bluetooth “tone.” Then, I tapped the Bluetooth button on my phone and it quickly recognized the speaker. I was synced up within seconds.
The Braven BRV-X is IPX7 certified waterproof with the cap sealed.
We figured bluegrass would fit well with the lakeside atmosphere. I threw on a Devil Makes Three album.
We were mindful that our closest neighbor was a few campsites away. Even at the lower volumes, we were impressed with what we heard.
The BRV-X excelled in the mids. The vocals sounded naturally placed with the instruments, and one didn’t over-power the other. Details like guitar plucks and snaps were apparent, but not overstated. We tapped our toes along to the string bass, which the BRV-X handled well. I heard more low-end than I get from a lot of portable speakers.
Indoor or Outdoor mode?
“Outdoor mode” increases the mids and highs to compete with background sound. There wasn’t a lot of ambient noise at the lake, so I selected the “Indoor mode.” This kept the levels more balanced.
When I cranked up the volume, the sound held up. Past a volume my wife deemed unacceptable for a public campground, it was still distortion-free. Maybe it won’t fuel a giant pool party, but it was more than enough for our area. Meanwhile, the speaker itself sat unmoving on four small rubber “feet” carved out at the bottom.
What did my little one think of the speaker? She laughed, danced, and stomped in approval. The Braven BRV-X played a role in making our first family camping trip a success.
Holding its own
It took a beating at the campsite, charged our phones, and provided a quality soundtrack to the trip. However, we were most impressed with the BRV-X when we got back home. We listened to a lot of music that weekend and expected the battery would be close to dead.
We still had 3 out of 5 “bars” of battery-life. This was the tipping point, I was officially sold.