Braven offers a distinctive line of Bluetooth speakers designed for a number of situations. Judging by their website, many of them seem ruggedised or weatherproofed in some way, and being standard Bluetooth devices they’re all Android compatible. We’ve been given a Braven 710 to review, and like what we’ve seen and heard.
The Braven 710 retails for $229 from a number of retailers. For that price you’re going to want a high quality piece of equipment, and they don’t disappoint. The body, constructed from a single piece of “aircraft-grade” aluminium, has a premium feel to it and is always cool to the touch. It stands up on a rubber, grippy base and you’ll find controls and ports at either end behind weatherproofing rubber. There’s a modest Braven logo on top and a hole for the microphone.
Braven markets their 710 as the “world’s most talented Bluetooth speakers”, and it’s pretty hard to fault that tagline given the number of features on offer. It can of course function as a standard Bluetooth speaker, but it can also be a standard wired speaker via AUX-IN, pair with another 710 for wireless stereo, output Bluetooth audio via AUX-OUT, and be used as a portable battery pack to charge your phone.
Oh, it’s also weatherproof. Talented indeed.
Removing the large rubber cap at the left side of the device reveals an impressive array of ports and buttons. There’s a battery level check, AUX-IN and AUX-OUT 3.5mm plugs, a Micro USB input port for charging, and a full size USB port you can use to charge devices.
On the right side you’ll find 4 buttons (power, play/pause, + and -), though they’re externally-accessible instead of being hidden away behind a rubber cap. The +/- buttons handle volume, and can skip tracks with a long pause. Bluetooth pairing is accomplished with a long-press of the Play/Pause button.
Special mention must also be made of the packaging, which uses pull tabs to expose sliding bits of cardboard in two directions to get the speaker out one side, and the manual and Micro USB charging cable from the other. Even so, once the speaker is out you’ll probably discard it.
Putting it to work
Pairing the 710 with modern Android phones is simple – there’s an “NFC Deck” in the rubber base, so you just have to tap your phone there to connect. If you don’t have NFC, it’s a standard long-press/search/pair/passcode arrangement so it’ll also work with iOS devices, PCs and Macs – anything with Bluetooth, really.
Handily, it can also function as a microphone input on a laptop if you’re in a pinch. For the speaker’s asking price you could probably be justifiably disappointed that the sound isn’t much better than a phone call, but it’s better than nothing (and it’s really designed to be a speakerphone, anyway).
Sound quality over Bluetooth is fine, bearing in mind that it’s a mono speaker. You can pair two 710’s together to get stereo sound, but that’s perhaps a bit of overkill at the price.
The audio can boom pretty loud, an impressive feat considering the size and battery-powered nature of the speaker, but it’s not as loud as you might think. I found that I pretty much lost the sound when moving between rooms of the house. Bear in mind as well that if you’re streaming from your phone over Bluetooth you won’t want to move far away from it.
Owing to the construction of the speaker, it’s very directional — if you’re not sitting generally in front of it, you’ll lose an edge of the device’s output. Still, it’s designed to be portable so this isn’t a huge problem. I could see it being a good personal companion while studying or working, or paired more permanently to my Mac (for which I’ve been meaning to get some speakers), but I wouldn’t want to use it to run background music in a noisy environment like a party.
I streamed from Google Play Music for a while and found the experience was fine, but I did miss casting content to a device that could stream it for itself like the Chromecast, or Sonos speakers. Streaming, decoding and Bluetooth data transmission can take a toll on the battery of the host device, so you wouldn’t want to use this for long periods without a power source for the phone… which is where the USB battery charging capability comes in.
The battery inside the Braven 710 is 1400 mAh, and the output on that full size USB port is 1A, so bear in mind that while you can charge a phone you’ll get neither a fast nor a sustained battery boost from it.
The Braven 710 is an attractive, functional and multi-talented entry in the upper range of the Bluetooth speaker market. Its durable construction lends well to its portable nature, and you’ll easily find space for it in a bag.
You can buy the Braven 710 from My Byte, Pacific Hi Fi, Beezer.com.au, Macfixit.com.au, Modlifeonline.com.au and Tech2Go Airport stores. RRP is $229. Find more information about the product on Braven.com