Braven’s BRV-PRO ($150) is a new rugged Bluetooth speaker with a ton of features and its own forthcoming ecosystem of accessories. BRV-PRO’s speaker is encased in aircraft-grade aluminum and accentuated by segments of black rubber and plastic. An included allen wrench allows users to remove and add pieces to customize the design. Braven claims BRV-PRO gets 15 hours of playtime, and the speaker is also IPX7 waterproof, with Braven noting that it’s “designed to withstand rainfall, water jets, and water splashing.” Two threads are located on the bottom of the speaker for mounting purposes, as well. As if that wasn’t enough, BRV-PRO also includes speakerphone capabilities, 100 ft. Bluetooth range, and a 2200 mAh battery that can be used to charge an iPhone. This speaker took home Best Overall Product honors from our Best of Show Awards at the 2015 International CES, so expectations are high.
BRV-PRO isn’t a big speaker — with all the rubber accents attached, it’s about 6.25” x 2.8” x 3.4”, weighing in at 1.46 pounds. Its tough industrial look sets it apart. While most speakers in this size are primarily plastic or fully rubberized, BRV-PRO adds a significant amount of aluminum to the mix. Four buttons on the top control power, volume/skip songs, and pairing/speakerphone — between the buttons is a plate that can be removed to install separately sold accessories. The speaker’s sides feature removable tie-down strap bars (a tie-down strap is included with the speaker), and two mounting threads are on the bottom. A lockable plastic seal on the back of BRV-PRO hides the 1A charging input, a 1A charging output for iPhones, an audio-in port, a reset button, and a battery level button, along with five LEDs denoting how much battery is left.
BRV-PRO pairs easily, and it soon becomes obvious the speaker also has great sound for its size. Bass was better than expected, with the speaker delivering a bit of a thump with bass-heavy songs. The speaker also does well with mids and highs, giving more nuance than one might expect. We listened to a wide variety of songs in a number of styles and were pleased with the way BRV-PRO handled every tune thrown its way. Volume controls sync to an iOS device, which brings us to just a few nitpicks — though the speaker will likely be loud enough for most, it’s not going to be the loudest speaker you’ll find in its price range, if that’s important to you. At its full volume though, there’s virtually no distortion to be heard. The field of sound isn’t extremely wide either, but that’s probably to be expected from a small, one-direction speaker.
The additional features of BRV-PRO really put it over the top. It’s IPX7 waterproof and small enough to fit in just about any bag, and the included 2200 mAh battery for iPhone charging — plus 15 hours of its own battery life for playback — makes it a great option to bring with you for an active weekend (as do the mounting threads on the speaker’s bottom). Our testing found the speakerphone to be pretty good, as well.
A line of accessories has also been designed to fit BRV-PRO. These forthcoming accessories, which can be mounted to the top of the speaker, will include an extended battery pack, light, camping multi-tool, solar panel, action mount, and a stacking plate which allow two BRV-PROs to join together. A few of these accessories are already available, with the action mount and stacking plate costing $15, and the solar panel and 3800 mAh waterproof battery pack costing $50 each.
We loved BRV-PRO at CES, and the speaker lives up to — and often exceeds — those lofty expectations. BRV-PRO is a great-looking, rugged speaker that can go anywhere. It delivers great sound and has a number of useful features to make the speaker even more appealing. The additional accessories certainly aren’t necessary to enjoy BRV-PRO, but they do give it extra versatility that competitors can’t really match at this point. Highly recommended.
Company and Price
Compatible: Bluetooth-enabled iPads, iPhones, iPods