Braven’s 855S is the companion speaker to the 850. The internals are much the same, but the cases are as different as can be, with the heavy, rubberised 855S looking more like something you’d find in a military tank rather than on a tasteful shelf next to your fish tank.
That said, it looks and feels great. But how does it sound?
What It Is
The 855S is a splashproof, drop-resistant Bluetooth speaker with built-in mic and “SRS WOW HD” sound processing (tip: leave this switched on). Like other Bravens, it has a full-sized USB port to charge your iPhone, and it can also be wirelessly linked to another $300 855S to make a stereo pair.
There’s also a power-in hole (for charging), a jack socket for hooking up non-wirelessly, and a row of LEDs with a button which can be used to display the battery level.
It’s tough. And loud. The speaker is rubberized, with a tough aluminum grille screwed to the front and a tight-fitting rubber flap covering the ports. Pairing mode is easily accessed by pressing and holding the play button until the cute sonar-style sound plays, and the SRS WOW processing can be toggle by a simultaneous long-press on the volume up/down buttons.
It’s tough. And loud
You’ll want to keep SRS on, as without it the speaker sounds like (as my visiting friend put it) a “transistor radio.” That’s a little harsh, but the difference is pretty big.
As is the sound. I have neighbors, so I could only push this all the way up very briefly, but let’s just say there’s more than enough sound for indoor use, and outside too, depending on just how many noisy people you have invited to your party.
The 855S is also pretty great for movie watching, although in this case sound levels can be a little lacking (movies are almost always quieter than music on my iPad, at least).
The sound is big, but it has to blast its way through waterproof membranes before reaching your ears
The sound is big, but because it has to blast its way through those waterproof membranes before it reaches your ears, it’s not as clear as other Bravens, even the smaller 650. Bass is big, but again its a little boomy. For general music listening, you’ll be fine, but this isn’t an audiophile rig.
This speaker is built with the outdoors in mind, and in this situation it excels (although it’s a little heavy to carry around all the time). If you’re camping, hanging out on the beach or kayaking down the river, then the 855S is perfect: It’s loud enough to hear outside, the battery seems to last forever between charges and it’s tougher than you are.
But indoors, it’s lacking in sound clarity when compared to other similarly-priced speakers. So if you only venture outside occasionally, you might consider something like the 850 (to be reviewed by Killian soon), along with a cheaper rugged speaker (Braven’s own $150 BRV1, for example).
Product Name: : 855s
The Good: Very rugged, loud,
The Bad: Bluetooth pairing issues, slightly jangly/muddy sound
The Verdict A great rugged speaker, but you might be better off with a smaller one paired with a high-quality speaker
Buy from: Braven