#BeatTheBraven – Braven Ready Solo and Pro 2018 (review)

Braven (pronounced Brave N) was founded 2011 – its focus is on Bluetooth outdoor, active, and premium audio solutions.

The company claim is – #BeatTheBRAVEN – it makes some of the world’s toughest speakers. It uses Aircraft aluminium, and rugged materials – the Outdoor series has a distinctive industrial design reminiscent of a Kia car radiator grill.

Before we get into the review, I must chasten Braven for slavishly following the trend of publishing absolutely no technical information about their speakers (Watts RMS, THD, frequency response) and for reviewers apparently blithely content to state they sound great – and they do.

But here at GadgetGuy, we have some tricks up our sleeve in the form of dB and frequency response meters – take that Braven!

The two speakers supplied for review are the Ready Solo and its slightly bigger brother the Ready Pro .

They take over from the BRV series. Both review units share the same basic characteristics (Solo/Pro shown where different).

  • IP68 and shockproof (able to withstand a 1.2m drop)
  • 12/14 hours, 2200mAh/2,600mAh.
  • USB-A charge 5V/1A port drains battery too quickly
  • Noise cancelling speakerphone capability
  • Siri/OK Google (other voice assistants to come)
  • Bluetooth 4.x – 10m range. Lacks multi-point connections. No NFC pairing
  • Outdoor app provides EQ pre-sets
  • USB 1A charge port
  • Removable Action Mount (GoPro system compatible) and carry strap
  • TrueWireless pairing for stereo
  • LED light torch on Pro
  • Solo 160 x 80 x 70 mm/Pro 190 x 95 x 90 mm
  • Ready Solo is $149.95, and Ready Pro is $229

Braven Pro – Grey or Black finishes

 

Braven Solo – Grey or Black finishes

Setup

  • Charge – (cable but no charger supplied)
  • Setup pairing by pressing the Bluetooth button. I connected to Windows 10 device first. Afterwards, I tried a Samsung Galaxy Note 8, but it would not pair until after the Windows pairing was deleted. This usually usually means it does not support multi-point pairing
  • The Braven Outdoor App for Android or iOS is not required to pair.

Sound – warm and sweet

Waterproof speakers are usually poor when it comes to a good Bass response. These have a dedicated downward-firing radiator at the base and produce good, punchy Bass.

Our frequency response meter (and our ears) showed bass/mids boosted and treble recessed giving it a Warm and Sweet sound signature. This is for easy listening although high-end vocals can be a little thin.

The Braven Outdoors app (Android tested) allows for EQ pre-sets including Outdoors (Warm and Sweet), Treble Boost, Bass Boost, Vocal, Folk, and Rock. It also allows for pairing two of the same speakers in stereo.

Volume was 75-80dB for the Solo and 80-85dB for the Pro with little perceptible total harmonic distortion at 100% volume. To put that in perspective it is equivalent to loud music and more than enough to fill a large room our use in the great outdoors.

Overall, I found the Outdoors EQ setting the easiest to listen to and tried a range of music from Beach Boys (vocals) to Beethoven (symphonies).

Battery

Battery life on each ranged from 12-16 hours depending on the volume. The app shows the remaining charge level, and PRO has a visual LED indicator.

Charging time from zero to 100% is a little over 1.5 hours using a 5V/2A charger, about four hours on a 5V/1A and nearly 10 hours using a 500mA car charger or computer port.

Using it as a power bank sucked it dry – no more music – in around two hours – 2,200/2,600mAh is not sufficient to charge a modern flagship phone.

OK Google – sing me a song

It seems every 2018 speaker has OK Google (or Siri or Alexa) and these are no different. In Android install it as a trusted device, and Google Assistant listens for OK Google. It picked up the command from 20 metres away – impressive.

Note that all voice assitants need a good internet connection to function.

As a hands-free phone, it was clear and loud.

GadgetGuy’s take

It is not an audiophile’s speaker, but it is great for the intended purpose – getting down and dirty outdoors. Having said that as an audiophile, I was quite content to listen to the Warm and Sweet sound signature.

I would like to take points off Braven for not publishing sound specifications, but real life listening shows they are competent speakers, at least as good as, if not better than other ruggedised outdoor speakers.

Pros

  • Rugged – IP68
  • GoPro mountable (no 1.4” tripod screw adaptor)
  • Sounds good with lots of Bass/mids and volume from either the Solo or Pro

Cons

  • Tricky pairing. Had to clear Bluetooth pairs to connect to another device – monogamous, not multi-point.
  • No sound specifications on the website or in the manual

Price

Ready Solo is $149.95, and Ready Pro is $229

Ratings

  • Overall: 4.2 out of 5
  • Features: 5 out of 5 – does what it promises including voice assistance
  • Value for Money: 5 out of 5 – good value for what they are
  • Performance: 4 out of 5 – Braven should publish specifications
  • Ease of Use: 3 out of 5 – No NFC or multi-point Bluetooth
  • Design: 4 out of 5 – rugged rather than attractive.