Review: Braven BRV-1M Bluetooth Speaker
Braven's new waterproof BRV-1M ($100) Bluetooth speaker is the company's updated version of 2013's BRV-1. While that small speaker hit the market for $180, BRV-1M has slashed that price tag in half. BRV-1M actually has more in common with a favorite speaker of ours, last year's BRV-PRO. BRV-1M boasts a similar design and size, but it's mostly made of plastic and rubber. The speaker has a 2200 mAh power bank with a 1A port to recharge devices; Braven claims BRV-1M gets 12 hours of playtime on one charge. The IPX7 waterproof speaker comes with an action mount, tie-down strap, aux cable, and a micro-USB cable for recharging. BRV-1M comes in red, black, or gray.
BRV-1M’s size is almost identical to BRV-PRO, about 6.25” x 2.8” x 3.4”, though it’s a bit lighter at 1.2 pounds. Other than external materials — BRV-PRO features plenty of aluminum — BRV-1M has a nearly identical design, too. Volume controls and play and power buttons are on top of the speaker, tie-down bars are on the side (not removable here), and a place to affix the action mount rests on the bottom of the speaker. A sealable back flap covers the charging ports, audio in port, and a battery level indicator. Of course, BRV-1M doesn’t have BRV-PRO’s ability to mount extra accessories either, such as an extra battery or solar panel. BRV-1M is a minor league version of BRV-PRO, but there’s nothing wrong with that — it’s a great design.
Sound performance is where the BRV-1M falls behind the PRO even further. BRV-PRO has great clarity and sound for a speaker its size, even if it’s a bit lacking in bass. BRV-1M has a bit more bass in the mix, but it suffers in other ways. The clarity isn’t quite the same, but worse, distortion is evident at higher volumes on some songs — and it’s tough to tell where it may pop up from song to song. It seems to happen more often with certain lower frequencies. Other than this inconsistent issue, BRV-1M has solid performance for a speaker in its price range. Speakerphone performance was pretty good.
BRV-1M is a less expensive version of BRV-PRO, and it justifies that lower position in a number of ways. The distortion we’ve heard is a problem…when it’s apparent. The design isn’t quite as eye-catching or versatile as PRO, but it’s lighter and just as waterproof. On its own, BRV-1M is a slightly flawed speaker that’s still appealing for a number of reasons, including its battery life and ruggedness. It earns our general recommendation.