We first saw Braven’s Balance ($130) at CES, and we recently got our hands on the company’s latest portable Bluetooth speaker. Balance is an IPX7-waterproof speaker which means it can be submerged in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. The speaker has a 4000 mAh battery that can be used for recharging an iPhone. Braven also claims Balance can run for 18 hours of playtime. The speaker includes a “Boost Mode” setting that lets Balance hit higher peak volumes in larger spaces. A built-in speakerphone is also included, and Braven comes with an audio cable and its own proprietary power adapter, which includes a number of adapter plugs for international use.
Balance has a straightforward, simple design. Speaker output is located on one side of Balance, with two bass radiators on each side. Playback controls are on top, and the extra functionality — output port for charging, battery life/reset buttons, aux-in port, and AC adapter port — are all found on the rear of the speaker under a waterproof seal. There are also four little feet on the back of the speaker, which seems to indicate the speaker can be used facing upward. However, all the promo photos show Balance used in the obvious way — upright on its base, which is how we used it.
Balance is 4.96” x 8.23” x 1.85” and weighs about 1.8 pounds. It’s portable, yes, but not as much as smaller speakers, such as Braven’s own BRV-PRO or Lux. Like many waterproof speakers, Balance is completely covered in soft-touch rubber. It comes in a number of bright colors, including the orange/gray combo seen in this review.
Balance’s sound is generally very good. Vocals are clear with a consistent midrange — highs and lows are well-represented for the size and price range. The sound is very similar to Braven’s BRV-PRO. We preferred the Balance for some songs and the BRV-PRO for others. Compared to Divoom’s similarly-priced Voombox-party released in the same time frame, Balance is a cut above in clarity and detail.
At first, Balance doesn’t get quite as loud as one might expect from a speaker of its size. It’s loud enough for a medium-sized room. But the speaker’s Boost Mode (activated by holding down the power and plus buttons on top of Balance) does indeed crank the peak volume. It’s a compromise — though the sound gets louder, the songs lose some detail — but it’s still a feature some might find useful.
Balance features a 33-foot wireless range, which is pretty standard, but doesn’t compare with BRV-PRO’s 100-foot range. Speakerphone performance was very good in testing. The claimed battery life is impressive, and of course, the ability to recharge an iPhone is always welcome.
Braven has really been on a roll this year, and Balance is another winner. It compares favorably to speakers within its price range, and though it may not offer outstanding peak volume, it’s waterproof with the added bonus of a built-in power bank for device recharging. Its biggest drawback is that it doesn’t really stand out for any major reason compared to top competitors — there are great recent options at the $100 and $150-$200 price range now, and Balance kind of fits in the middle. But if you like the design and appreciate its other features, this speaker warrants strong consideration.
Company and Price
Compatible: Bluetooth-enabled iPads, iPhones, iPods