Review: Braven 600 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
In our review of Braven 650, we briefly detailed the history of the company's transition from Spar, and its Zephyr line. That model was essentially the same as Zephyr 550, with tweaks to the exterior, sound quality, and battery. Now we've received Braven 600 ($150), a more affordable version of the wireless Bluetooth speaker that, while virtually identical from the outside, has different components inside. The $30 savings comes at the cost of battery life, and a minor difference in the audio quality.
Like 650, Braven 600 combines Bluetooth music streaming and iPhone-ready speakerphone features in a 6.25” wide by 1.75” deep and 2.5” tall aluminum-clad box. From the outside, the only differences are the darker grey coloration of 600, and the labeling at the bottom right corner. They’re truly identical otherwise. With this one, you also receive a power adapter, four international plugs, a Micro-USB charging cable, and an aux cable. Those international power connectors were not in the package before. One end has a battery indicator button and light, line out port, and USB charger, while the other is more heavily packed. There’s the pairing/speakerphone button, power switch, volume buttons, Micro-USB and line in ports.
Although they look the same, the audio is a little bit different between the two thanks to high fidelity audio drivers. It’s clear that 650 is of a slightly higher quality, especially in the highs. At their loudest, Braven 600 sound noticeably worse, with a good amount of distortion. We compared Braven 650 to Jawbone’s Jambox, saying it “simultaneously sounds crisper and more balanced, though not comparatively bass-deficient nor as flat as the Jambox.” The same can be said for Braven 600.
Most of the portable audio systems we test make no effort to do anything with their batteries save power their own speakers, but a few, including the Zephyr and Braven models, include outbound USB ports so that you can also recharge your iPhone or iPod on the go. Braven 650 includes a 2000 mAh battery for 20 hours of play time. Braven 600 drops to 1400 mAh, which is enough for around 12 hours of play time. Obviously, these playback times will be diminished if you’re also charging a device.
With Braven 600, you’re getting what you pay for. A slightly lower price gets you still-good audio, but it’s not as impressive as what 650 has to offer. Along the same lines, battery life isn’t as high, but it’s still respectable. That’s why Braven 600 earns the same general recommendation. It’s a good speaker at a reasonable price.