Works With: Anything
Say hi to the little Braven BRV-1. Take a while to get acquainted… You’re going to be spending a lot of time together this summer. Why? Because not only does this little fella sound pretty good, he can follow you almost literally everywhere you might go – beach, biking, even boating – without stopping.
The BRV-1 comes from the same folks that made my favorite-sounding candy-bar speaker, the Braven 650. Like the 650, the BRV-1 is loud and clear, connects via Bluetooth or cable, lasts a good half-day on its battery and can charge your iPhone from a full-sized USB port.
Unlike the 650, the BRV-1 is dust, shower and shock proof.
What it is
The cute rubberized BRV-1 is compact and light, and has four buttons up top, protected under the rubber shell: Play/pause, volume up and down, and power. The bottom has four rubber feet, and the rear also has four less-prominent feet, so you can use it pointing upwards if you like.
The front grille is screwed on with eight Allen bolts, and the ports at the back are protected with a screw-on cap, like the lid of a jam jar. Finally, an LED peeks through the grille to tell you it’s switched on, and optional straps can be attached for either hanging the thing from your wrist (or the shower head), or keeping the port-cap from getting lost.
There’s a lot to like here. Let’s start with the sound. In side-by-side tests with the Jambox (my standard reference for speakers of this size), the BRV-1 sounds a little more enclosed. That was the first impression.
The sound is surprisingly full and detailed for something so small.
Keep listening and the sound is surprisingly full and detailed for something so small and built to keep dirt and water out. It’s not hi-fi, but neither is is some tinny piece of crap.
In fact, the BRV-1 has become my everyday speaker at home, the one I use to listen to podcasts around the house and for music while I work. This is partly because it’s so easy to use, and I don’t
have to worry about splashing it in the shower, but also because it sounds just about as good as the little Jambox.
It’s also a lot louder. Crank this thing all the way up and it stays steady. The Jambox, on the other hand, starts to distort if it’s not in Live Audio mode. And it it is in Live Audio mode, it’s far too quiet.
This is important, as it means you can enjoy music and podcasts in the shower. You can just prop it on the side of the bathtub, or you can hang the speaker from the shower head or other handy protuberance.
The speaker is made to stand up to pretty much everything except being submerged. In reality, a quick dunk won’t hurt it. I tried it while showering, washing the dishes and generally just banging the thing around. It stands up to punishment well, although I haven’t tested it to destruction.
One thing is worth mentioning. The speaker can be stood on its hind legs. That it, it can sit back with the grille pointing upwards. Unlike some other waterproof speakers, the BRV-1 doesn’t have a plastic sheet behind the grille (likely why it still sounds good), so in this position it’ll fill with water and quickly go almost silent. Empty it out and give it a shake and all is fine, and when it dries out, the sound goes back to normal.
Another thing to note: this works as a handsfree unit for the phone, which is great for the beach. And it also shows up to your iDevice as a Bluetooth headset, which also gives you a battery level readout in your statusbar.
It’s not hi-fi, but neither is is some tinny piece of crap.
I don’t have many complaints. The bass is a little limited, more of a loud slap than a booming bump, but it’s a hearty slap. There’re no skip controls. The light flashes the whole time the speaker is on. And that’s it.
Is this speaker worth the $180 asking price? If you just want something rugged, go for the Braven 650. I have been using one for a long time now and its aluminum body is happy to get bumped around. It also sounds better than the BRV-1. But not by much. If you are planning on spending a lot of time outdoors, then the BRV-1 is probably the best-sounding shower speaker I have tried.
The Good: Tough, good-looking, easy to use and pretty great sounding.
The Bad: $180 is a lot to lose if your nephew buries it on the beach.
The Verdict For a splash-proof, ruggedized speaker, it sounds great. The perfect everyday speaker for using around the house, like a modern-day transistor radio.