Cavalier is a new premium audio brand that’s just released their debut product, The Maverick, a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth speaker that features Amazon Alexa support, but differs from most of the speakers we’ve seen by placing a considerably stronger focus on craftsmanship and design that distinguishes the company, and its new portable speaker, from the myriad basic plastic-and-fabric cylinders that seem to have saturated the market over the past few years. Although the design carries the speaker into a more premium price range, it’s a refreshing change of style that we found pretty intriguing.
While there’s no getting around the fact that The Maverick is still just a small cylindrical speaker, Cavalier has put enough thought into the design to make it stand out from the pack, combining a machined aluminum alloy chassis with a genuine leather strip down the front and knitted acoustic fabric surrounding the speaker. It’s available in either a basic black version or an “Indigo” variation that we think looks especially unique. The Maverick also comes with a companion charging base that also features matching leather around the outside edge. The Maverick feels solid in the hand, even though at 1.75 pounds it’s not particularly heavy, and we liked the feel of both the fabric and the aluminum.
In the box, Cavalier also includes a more upscale fabric-coated USB-C charging cable, with a leather strap for storing the cable, along with a USB power supply and a stitched travel case for taking the speaker on the road with you. The charging cable can be plugged into either the charging base or directly into the speaker, allowing you to recharge the speaker just about anywhere. Four buttons on the back provide controls for power, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and muting of the microphone. The built-in rechargeable battery promises up to 9 hours of listening time.
The Maverick otherwise eschews buttons in favour of an analog control knob right on the top of the speaker. The knob can be turned to adjust volume, which we thought was a really nice old-school touch, and doubles as a smart button that can be tapped to control music playback or answer/end phone calls using the speakerphone. Double-tap and triple-tap functions can also be customized in the app to change tracks or call up a Spotify or iHeartRadio playlist. Five LEDs near the top of The Maverick provide visual indicators for battery level and volume level, as well as showing whether the Alexa microphone is in muted privacy mode.
Out of the box, The Maverick will work as a simple Bluetooth speaker with no additional setup or app installation required — pressing the Bluetooth button on the back puts it in Bluetooth mode and it will pair up like any other Bluetooth speaker and be ready for use right away. To use The Maverick with Alexa, however, you’ll need to download the Cavalier Audio app from the App Store and go through a setup process similar to what we’ve seen with other Wi-Fi enabled speakers. The Maverick does a good job of providing voice prompts to direct you to connect to its Wi-Fi network, and letting you know when you’re connected, but we actually found this to be a bit misleading — you’ll definitely want to start with the Cavalier Audio app first and follow the instructions in there, regardless of what the speaker is telling you. Most importantly, Cavalier seemed to insist that we sign up for an account before we could move on to the actual setup process, and of course you’ll need to be connected to the internet to sign up, so you’re best to do that before you switch to The Maverick’s own Wi-Fi network. Following the setup process in the app, however, worked flawlessly and we had the speaker up and running within minutes, including going through the optional step of adding it to our Amazon account for use with Alexa.
In addition to working as an Amazon Alexa speaker, The Maverick can also stream Spotify and iHeartRadio content directly over Wi-Fi using the Cavalier Audio app or via Spotify Connect directly from the Spotify app. Of course, unsurprisingly there’s no support for Apple Music here, but sadly The Maverick doesn’t support AirPlay either — a limitation it shares with UE’s Megablast that we looked at earlier this summer, but one that’s oddly not shared with the considerably less expensive Fabriq Chorus or 808 Audio XL-V. That said, however, we think The Maverick is targeted primarily at Alexa and Spotify users, many of whom probably don’t see AirPlay as a necessary feature; Spotify users gain iOS-controlled playback via Spotify Connect, and The Maverick’s implementation of Alexa also allows for Spotify music to be called up directly using your voice — something that we’ve only seen on one other third-party Alexa speaker so far.
In terms of sound quality, The Maverick sits in an interesting spot — it provides a more balanced sound that lacks the deep, booming bass of other speakers in its class, such as UE’s Megablast and of course Apple’s especially bass-heavy HomePod. There’s certainly a strong market for users who like their speakers to lean toward heavier bass, and we think that sadly many have begun to associate bass with “richness” or “fullness” of sound — and this will definitely be even more apparent if you’re doing listening comparisons between The Maverick and a speaker like UE’s Megablast — The Maverick will sound a bit “flatter” at first. However, listen to The Maverick by itself for a while and we think many users will appreciate the more nuanced sound, with bass that’s definitely present but not overpowering. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise considering the craftsmanship behind The Maverick, but we actually found that it played very well with genres like classic and progressive rock, a bit less so with more modern pop and electronic music. While we’d stop short of calling it a speaker for audiophiles, we definitely think it’s got a solid sound signature for those with more discerning ears.
While The Maverick doesn’t reach the extreme outdoor party volume levels of UE’s Megablast, its two 20 watt drivers get more than loud enough for typical indoor and patio listening, and remarkably we found no noticeable distortion at even peak volume levels. A built-in speakerphone is also included, with echo noise cancellation, which worked reasonably well in our testing — no better or worse than we’ve come to expect from secondary speakerphone features. The Maverick also supports multi-speaker pairing, but we were unable to test this with only one speaker on hand.
Recently there’s been a bit of a race to the bottom among Wi-Fi and Bluetooth speakers with Amazon Alexa integration, so we found The Maverick to be a very refreshing change with its premium and thoughtfully crafted design and a sound signature to match — both of which definitely make it stand out from the pack. While there’s no doubt that you’re paying a bit of a price premium for The Maverick’s high-end craftsmanship, the speaker itself still delivers quality acoustics — The Maverick appeals to a different audience, but we’d consider it pretty much on par with UE’s Megablast, which is basically the same price when you factor in the charging base. The Maverick has a style and sound that uniquely complement each other, and we think it’s safe to say that if you like the design, there’s a good chance you’ll like the sound signature as well.
Company and Price
Model: The Maverick