Review: Braven BRV-Blade Bluetooth Speaker
BRV-Blade ($200) is a new speaker from Braven. Featuring typical Braven industrial design, the thin portable Bluetooth speaker boasts IPX7 waterproof protection, and its rugged frame is shockproof, as well. The black stereo speaker features two forward-firing drivers and two passive subwoofers on each side. Braven claims BRV-Blade can run for 22 hours of playtime — a typically impressive number from the company's speakers. Speaking of battery, BRV-Blade's included 4000 mAh battery allows users to charge iOS devices at 1A speeds. BRV-Blade comes with an AC adapter (with interchangeable world plugs), an aux cable, and a tie-down strap with bottle opener.
BRV-Blade is consistent with Braven’s typical industrial design, which is to say, it’s handsome and rugged. The black speaker is mostly plastic and rubber, and measures in at around 9” x 5.1” x 2”. It weighs a little more than 2 pounds. Playback, power, and volume controls are on top of the speaker. The back of BRV-Blade houses the USB output port for charging, a battery level LED gauge, an aux-in port, and an input for the speaker’s adapter. All of these ports are found under a rubber seal, which is located below a hole for a standard 1/4” mount. Design is not where BRV-Blade falters.
Considering how much we’ve liked most Braven speakers in the past, it’s hard to call BRV-Blade’s sound anything but disappointing. While some songs sounded fine to our ears. Others seemed to be a bit out of balance, especially at mid-to-high volume levels. Some highs, in particular, sounded harsh and unpleasant to our ears at higher volumes. BRV-Blade’s depth can be lacking, and details can get lost in the mix. These flaws became obvious against top competing speakers, such as Ultimate Ears’ UE Boom 2, which blows away BRV-Blade in every way, at the same price.
For a $200 speaker, BRV-Blade doesn’t get too loud, either. Unless, of course, you activate the speaker’s “Boost Mode,” which requires the user to hold in the power button and volume increase button to hit peak volume. We saw this same feature in Braven’s Balance, and didn’t quite understand the point then, either. In fact, BRV-Blade reminds us of Balance in a number of ways — except this new Braven speaker is $70 more expensive.
BRV-Blade isn’t a bad speaker, but its limited sound performance strikes us more as a speaker that would make more sense in the $100-$150 range. If you love its features — like its long battery life and waterproofing — and its look, you might want to give it a listen and see if its sound appeals to you, but we think you can find better portable Bluetooth speakers in this price range with ease.