Tech Tuesday: Braven 850 and 855s speakers

Brave_850_855s_together

braven 850Last year, our ‘Tech MacGyver’ Josh, introduced me to Bluetooth speakers. After bumping some tunes and using it to bring cinematic sound to laptop viewing, I fell in love. I’ve been eager to test drive these Bluetooth beasts by Braven and see if they’ve got the minerals.

Simple yet stunning design

Simple yet stunning design

As I’ve previously stated in my Eye Candy tech reviews, it’s not just enough for a product to be functional. It has to look good while it’s at it. This dual review of the Braven 850 (depicted above) and the Braven 855s will break down the common threads between the two speakers, the differences in functionality, sound and ultimately which one would best suit your needs.

From a design point alone, the Braven 850 is slick all day. The rounded edges give it a softness and you can tell it has been specifically made with Macbook Pro users in mind sporting a very similar brushed chrome looks and comes off completely understated.

There are no extraneous buttons or flashy equalisers, just an extremely minimalistic control pad with an on/off button, play, phone, and volume up and down. That’s it. It is good to go right out of the box needing little more than a charge and it’s ready to rock, and boy does it.

A press of a button and it effortlessly pairs with any Bluetooth device, be it your iPod, iPhone, Android mobile, Mac, PC or laptop. It literally takes seconds. It pumps out sound in an impressive volume, range and distance with a key feature the dual speakers.

What you see in the pic above is exactly what you see on both sides of the unit, so you’ve pretty much got 360 degrees of sound hitting your earholes. The battery life is around 20 hours and it even sports a USB input so you can charge the device its paired with if you’re battery is running low.

The Braven 855s - perfect for on the go

The Braven 855s – perfect for on the go

I tested it with various videos from YouTube, DVDs and Blu-rays, paired it with my laptop iTunes and it didn’t skip a beat. I even grabbed a DJ friend of mine to try to hook it up to his system, albeit unsuccessfully due to a problem with his equipment recognising the Braven.

We still managed to test out some high bit rate mixes of his and the sound was impressive. There was no static or crackle until you reached eardrum shattering levels and the tunes were crystal clear with a surprising amount of bass. You could easily have a house party using one of the bad boys alone.

If you do happen to pair the device with a mobile phone you can answer calls via the Braven unit as long ass you don’t mind broadcasting it to anyone around you. The speaker itself is remarkably sturdy, has some decent heft to it and the Braven 850 would be  the perfect size to sit under your monitor for your home PC. The only downside I found was the short transmitting range of under 10 metres. Go beyond that and you start to lose signal.

Now just to be clear, either the Braven 850 or the 855s are suitable to take with you on the go. There’s very little difference between the two as far as functionality is concerned other than a touch less reverberation in the Braven 855s at top volume. Out of the two, however, the Braven 855s is far more rugged and simply put, designed for such endevours. It boasts a thick rubber outer shell which feels quite sturdy, almost like a car tyre , not weak or flimsy by any means. 

It is also water resistant making it ideal to bring pool or beach-side, and while you can’t throw it in the deep end and expect it to be functional I tested it out near a pool with some some controlled splashing which it ignored and kept on trucking beautifully.

It's like looking in a mirror, only not

It’s like looking in a mirror, only not

If one of these alone is the bees knees, imagine two of them in tandem. I didn’t have to. I was lucky enough to field test both versions simultaneously and Braven gives you the bonus plan. You can pair the two units together to work off the same Bluetooth device. The sound was staggering with no interference at all. Let’s call two of them the duck’s nuts, shall we?

They really are remarkable little speakers and while the price tag of AU$399.00 each might be a little rich for some, the quality you’re getting is certainly worth it. It pumps out cracking sound at home, is made to work in tandem with your PC/laptop as a speaker system and is just what you need for tunes in the great outdoors.

I have no hesitation recommending either of these as a portable speaker system, and am seriously considering getting myself a Braven 855s for my PC in the next month. I like both of the designs, but the tyre tread look of the Braven 855s and its outdoor resistant features are just too bad-arse. There’s also slightly less reverberation at the highest and bassiest levels, as I mentioned earlier, which is key for someone who listens to music at ludicrous volumes while bobbing his head to the phat beats of Ludacris. If you’re looking for exceptional quality and don’t mind paying for it, this Braven series is the one for you.

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Dave Kozicki

Shotgun Samurai
Video game reviewer, presenter and enthusiast. Film and TV-aholic. Pop culture geek. T-shirt and sneaker addict. All around nice guy and one hell of a sexy beast. Writer for Official PlayStation Magazine AU, AusGamers and Hyper Magazine.