Braven’s been on a great streak recently, releasing a number of very good-to-excellent speakers in the past year or so. BRV-XXL is the company’s biggest, priciest Bluetooth speaker yet. The huge BRV-XXL is an IPX5 water-resistant speaker built for the outdoors — its carrying strap even comes with a built-in bottle opener. Four drivers push sound out of both sides of the speaker, and a subwoofer is situated in the middle. Braven promises an impressive 14 hours of battery life, which makes sense when you realize BRV-XXL is equipped with a 15600 mAh battery — a 1A USB output port lets listeners charge an iOS device during use. As one might expect with a speaker this size, BRV-XXL recharges with its own proprietary adapter — Braven packs in a number of different plugs to ensure that its speaker fits into a number of world outlets.
BRV-XXL’s size is a blessing a curse. While it can pump out powerful sound — we’ll get to that in a bit — it’s also quite large. The speaker has a handle and an optional carrying strap, but it’s still not the most portable speaker around considering its dimensions — 20.25” x 8.25” x 9.5” — and its hefty 18-pound weight. (See it below next to an iPad mini.) Forget throwing this into anything smaller than a duffel bag, and if space is restricted on your trip, BRV-XXL won’t be coming along for the ride. You need room for this bad boy.
The speaker’s exterior design features black plastic, black rubberized ends, and two large silver speaker grilles. It doesn’t scream high-end, but it’s a fine utilitarian, industrial look. Under the handle, a small rubber flap allows users to stand up their device. One side of the speaker has a battery meter, with a flap covering the adapter and output ports, an aux jack, and a mic jack, as well. On the other side are the power, play/pause, and volume buttons. The power button also allows users to connect to Bluetooth, and adjust the bass and treble of songs, which is a nice way to give listeners extra control without having to access a proprietary app.
You’d imagine that due to its size, BRV-XXL is powerful and loud, and well, you’d be right. The four drivers deliver plenty of volume, and bass — the latter of which can be especially booming if you pump up the bass on the speaker itself. We listened mostly to the default settings of BRV-XXL, and what stood out was the balance and clarity of the sound. The speaker proved adept at handling all types of songs, and we didn’t find much of a need to tweak the bass and treble — your tastes may vary.
BRV-XXL begs comparisons to another recently released speaker, Nyne’s Rock, as seen above. While we liked Nyne’s Rock as a bass-heavy boombox, it’s clear from the get-go that BRV-XXL is a better speaker, providing improved clarity and stronger overall performance. Peak volume level is similar between the two, as is peak bass, when BRV-XXL is pumped up on that end. Braven’s speaker doesn’t rattle like Rock can at high volumes, another win for BRV-XXL. One must keep in mind, however, that BRV-XXL is also $100 more expensive.
Another apt comparison for BRV-XXL is UE’s very good $300 Megaboom. The sound is pretty even, though Braven’s offering gets louder. UE Megaboom has the obvious edge in portability.
There are two obvious downsides to Braven’s BRV-XXL: the size and the price. But if you’re looking for a top-performing portable speaker that will be loud enough for your gathering — and you don’t mind lugging it around — you’re likely to find BRV-XXL’s relatively high price easier to swallow. It’s a beast of a system, with great battery power and water resistance, and it’s easy to use, too. It’s an over-the-top outdoor speaker that can last all day, and it comes highly recommended.
Company and Price
Compatibility: Bluetooth iPads, iPhones + iPod touches