Braven 600 Portable Bluetooth Speaker REVIEW

$199

4.5 Stars

It’s no bass master, but this diminutive music-on-the-go speaker will improve on the tinny on-board sounds of your Apple or Android device.

IT’S TOUGH LIVING out of a suitcase, let alone spending five weeks at a time living out of a suitcase on board a ship. I knew this career change would have its challenges, especially for a music lover and his need to have gadgets on tap when faced with many boring nights at sea.

WDF-BravenThe answer has been to downsize the audio rig based around Audioengine speakers and a MacBook Air, which really does the business.

But what if I really wanted to go ultra-portable    and do away with all those cables and stuff?

Well, Mac accessory specialists Macgear have just landed the well-reviewed Braven portable speaker range from the USA, so I took one to play with while I was out on the briny.

Braven 600 Specs

Finished in gunmetal grey and bristling with hidden drivers, the Braven 600 is absolutely tiny.  Surely something measuring around 160l x 70H x 50D couldn’t possibly deliver anything resembling a real audio experience?

Well, more on that later, but to be fair that’s not the point. It’s a portable speaker system, and you have to throw audio perfectionism out the window when travelling light – or going to the beach, or barbeque at the park.

It’s certainly a sturdy little speaker. Braven has used anodised aircraft grade aluminium in its construction, and the result is a refreshing change from the flimsy plastic efforts that abound in the marketplace.

Two custom ‘HD’ drivers on the front are backed up with a pair of tiny flat passive subwoofers on the rear of the speaker, driven by a 3wpc Class-D amplifier operating in stereo.

As the Braven 600 uses Bluetooth streaming, the good news is that any Bluetooth-equipped device will work: Apple, Android, Windows Mobile, the lot.

It’ll also act as a portable hands-free speaker, as it has a built-in microphone, and it charges up your smartphone when the juice begins to run out via its built-in powerbank.  It can also daisy chain another Braven 600, which will beef up the already impressive sound quality from this tiny little speaker, but won’t turn both Bravens into left and right stereo speakers, as they’ll both emit a stereo output at the same time. I guess you could place a speaker behind the listening seat (or patch of grass at the park) and let the Doppler effect create a sort of pseudo-surround sound. There’s nothing wrong with being a bit creative now, is there?

The built-in 1400 mAh battery will allow up to 12 hours of playback time at medium levels, but if you’re going to use it to charge your phone expect this time to worsen considerably. Another tip:  don’t try to charge up a tablet or other high- powered device, as the charge feature is designed to re-power devices that draw power from a 0.5 to 1.0A charge.

Listening Sessions

No, I’m not serious. I mean, how the hell do you listen critically to a tiny Bluetooth ultra-portable speaker system with wee drivers measuring 6 inches by 3? Nope, especially on what has been the noisy ship from hell.

Navigator Joseph Pullen proudly displaying the Braven 600
Navigator Joseph Pullen proudly displaying the Braven 600

Instead, I played the 600 in my cabin, took it down into the galley (that’s the kitchen for you landlubbers), up on deck with, and generally terrorising and impressing my crew mates alike with its funky sound quality and good looks.

It majors on clarity. While the bass registers are there, it isn’t going to induce the dreaded ‘brown note’ any time soon. Actually, there was a decent bass output; enough at least to follow bass lines and kick drums with ease. The only real point of comparison would be the little WoWee One I had a play with a couple of years ago. A cabled speaker, this little guy rocked the house with its impressive bass, but placing the speaker on its gel mount meant the speaker fired upwards, losing some of its treble clarity and definition.

The Braven 600 was easily paired with an iPod, a Google Nexus 4 Smartphone, and a MacBook Air, improving the sound quality from this trendy notebook no end.

Conclusion

It’s a damn fine little speaker, well finished and specified and it looks great. Sure, more bass would be better, but that’d be like asking Danny DeVito to run a 9.5 second 100m, beating Usain Bolt in the process. That isn’t going to happen, and low bass from the Braven 600 won’t either – but what is there was better than expected. Cool device for sure. GARY PEARCE

 www.macgear.co.nz

 

 

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