If you’ve been following us at iSource for awhile, you know how much we adore wireless accessories for our beloved iDevices. Bluetooth speakers are one treat I get to test and carry with me from place to place as I present to teachers.
My default unit for its demure size and portability, ease of use, and impressive sound has been the Braven 600. At slightly over 6 inches, the sleek 650 has been my best reliable and closest companion for small to medium size rooms in which I present. And while my shiny friend has been the best for playing background music on break, for example, it hasn’t always been the best for audio on a movie or video track simply because it is sometimes not loud enough.
I pounced on the chance to get to know Braven’s biggest brother, the Braven 850. For the past few weeks, I have been carrying this beast around and impressing everyone I encounter. My first use in front of 100 standing-room-only school principals impressed several enough to take a quick pic of the speaker to add their wishlist!
At over 9-inches and a hefty 3lb weight, this badboy isn’t for toying around and playing dinky songs. No, the Braven 850 is a beast of a speaker that thumps greater than any equivalent speaker I’ve tested (sorry Supertooth). While the video below doesn’t nearly capture the depth of deeps and solid range of performance without distortion this supreme speaker emits. You can trust that by comparison, I’ll take this big brother of its little brother any day (assuming I have the strength to carry it).
Like its tiny-Tim, the Braven 850 is feature filled. For example, it has a built-in mic for conducting a conference call with the Braven’s speakerphone. I used this without incident on an important call one day, and the client at the other end said nothing about how I sounded – an indication I didn’t sound like I was speaking from inside a tincan. I have since confirmed this also by recording voicemails, as well as pointedly asking if I sounded off while in another conversation.
Unlike the 650, the 850 has buttons on top for power, phone (hang-up), play, and volume up and volume down. The sensitivity of the power button is a little tender, however. More than once, something light has fallen on top of the unit (remember I travel a lot) or the unit itself has tipped and powered the speaker on.
Another neat feature that Braven has built in to both units is a USB plug. This is useful when you may need a quick recharge with your USB cable. Like a computer, plug a USB cord into your iDevice and the other end into a Braven speaker to tap into the power of its internal battery. When powered on, pressing the battery button on the right side displays a 5-LED light indicator of power remaining.
Additional specs from the website include:
- 9.5″ x 2.75″ x 4″
- 3lb 5.5 oz
- up to 20 hours playtime with 8800 mAh battery
- 20 W of stereo output
- aptX codec output for lossless clarity
- battery check light – each light represents 20% charge
- Charge external devices with USB cable (not provided)
- pair with another Braven 850 for true stereo effect
- in-line AUX input for wired connection
- SRS WOW HD – increased clarity and bass response with SRS WOW HD technology
There is little I would suggest needs to be reconsidered in this smooth aluminum beauty. While not overly fond of not having a “power” indicator light, I can live with the traditional Bluetooth pulse of a discreet light on one end telling me its power is on. And as mentioned earlier, the top power button seems overly sensitive.
As I mentioned before, an iPad home video can’t capture the sound this speaker puts out. Playing songs loudly without distorting, feeling the bass thump, hearing solid mid-ranges and crisp treble without piercing sharpness, are all effects a solid contender should put out… And Braven 850 went beyond solid. It went straight to a new standard.
The Braven 850 was provided to iSource for review by the folks at MaxBorges Agency. For further questions on our review policies, see the About tab above.