We review the massive Braven 850, a Bluetooth-connected speaker that ranks up there with the best of them.
We've all wanted some way to beef up our laptop, cellphone or tablet's audio playback capabilities-- those tiny speakers the manufacturers built into them just don't cut it. Particularly if there's a great song or video you want your friends to hear or see. It's just nice to have everyone not have to strain to hear the thing.
One of the handiest solutions so far has been the advent of Bluetooth speakers, those wonderful things that don't need to be physically connected to your device, yet bellow the audio loudly.
Well, we got the newest and the biggest of the lot for your perusal: the Braven 850 Portable Bluetooth Speaker. It's kinda expensive, but they don't come any better (or much bigger). It's kind of a stretch to really call it portable, but hey, it's there if you want it.
You're probably more familiar with the smaller, 6-watt Braven E Series-- think of the 850 as its much bigger brother. At nearly four times the size, it looks exactly like its smaller siblings-- with a few major differences. Aside from the girth (nearly 24cm x 7cm x 10cm, at 1.5 kilos), there is a bank of controls on top: a power button, a cellphone mic button (the noise-cancelling mic itself is right beside it), play, and volume up and down.
Low on the right side is a 5-LED battery indicator and button, a power port, and AUX port and a USB charging port. If you prefer the traditional way of doing things (meaning no Bluetooth), you can always connect your audio device using the speaker's AUX port. On the bottom there are two rubber pads which keep the speaker from moving around while playing.
And yes, there is a power brick that comes with the Braven 850, as opposed to the other Braven speakers that charge via a micro-USB port that you attach to your computer. Hey, it sports a giant 8,800 mAh battery, it's gotta have a better way to charge that monster, right? There are also interchangeable power plugs that come with the power brick, to suit different countries.
Inside the aircraft aluminum-grade casing, there are two high-def tweeters and two passive subwoofers that output sound at 20W, loud enough to turn your living room into a concert hall. It also gets its audio using the aptX codec, a Bluetooth thing that reproduces sound with better resolution and fidelity (or so they say). Furthermore, it also adds SRS WOW HD to the audio mix, which makes the sound clearer and louder.
While the Braven 850 can wow your socks off, the problem with it is that it's essentially mono, a sound limitation which you'll have to live with. But if you have the cash for it, you can wirelessly connect another Braven 850 for the full experience using a technology Braven calls True Wireless, and all you need do is depress the battery indicator button for a long press, and that's it. Voila: stereo.
Braven also provides a way to charge your other devices in a pinch with the speaker--the USB port can power up your laptops, cellphones or tablets. It can even charge up the notoriously power-hungry Retina iPads, with a lot of juice left over.
In tests, the speaker lasted a couple of hours past the prescribed 20 hours of operation, certainly enough for a full, indulgent day of loud audio (of course, that's without charging any extra devices).
There was hardly any distortion with the speaker at maximum volume (a level which woke up the neighborhood, let me tell you). Well, maybe just a little, but at those volumes you expect that sort of thing. It reproduced all the audio I threw at it with riotous aplomb, from pop to classical to electronica and hip hop to spoken word and instrumental pieces, working with SRS and the aptX codec.
At P13,450, the Braven 850 Portable Bluetooth Speaker is a big bruiser of a speaker, perfect for those times when an impromptu party is threatening to erupt. There is a ruggedized version, the 855, with rubber coating and waterproofing if your wet 'n wild party's happening outdoors, and is available for just a little more.We've all wanted some way to beef up our laptop, cellphone or tablet's audio playback capabilities—those tiny speakers the manufacturers built into them just don't cut it. Particularly if there's some great song or video you want your friends to hear or see. It’s just nice to have everyone not have to strain to hear the thing.
Inside the aircraft aluminum-grade casing, there are two high-def tweeters and two passive subwoofers that output sound at 20W, loud enough to turn your living room into a concert hall.
It's kind of a stretch to really call it portable, but hey, it's there if you want it.