Braven is about to have you wondering why all portable Bluetooth speakers aren’t like their new Braven Balance. The impressive speaker is IPX7 waterproof and can be submerged up to a foot in water. It can play for up to 18 hours and features a large 4000mAh battery that can be used to charge your phone, or any USB device. As if that’s not enough, it has phone call speakerphone with built in noise cancellation, and even audio boost mode that cranks the volume to the next level when you’re cranking tunes outside.
The design of the Braven Balance is somewhat atypical for a Bluetooth speaker, but pretty cool. It’s rectangular with rounded edges, and a pretty slim profile. It can either lay flat, or it can stand up wide. There’s rubberized grips on the bottom and the back specifically for this. Balance has a very active appearance. It’s bright, rubberized, and durable. While it has some heft (1.79lb), it’s a great size for most any occasion. It’s not the smallest speaker, but it’s still very portable. It’s 8 inches wide and 5 inches tall.
On the top of the Balance is four large rubberized buttons: power, pairing, volume up, and volume down. There’s actually more functionality associated to these buttons like skipping tracks and playing/pausing music. On the back of Balance is a rubber hatch that reveals a few things: there’s the charging port, an audio-in auxiliary port, a full sized USB port, and a button for displaying remaining battery. The battery meter is 5 LEDs, which is really helpful.
We love the color options, they’re very bright and very fun. There’s electric lime (neon yellow), raspberry (pictured), periwinkle, sunset orange, and then also black or white.
The Braven Balance is a bluetooth speaker. This means you can play your music wirelessly from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop at a distance of roughly 33 feet. The pairing process is pretty typical—it’s no different than any other bluetooth device. Since bluetooth isn’t always an option, the Balance also has a standard stereo input for a 3.5mm audio cable (included)—that way you can play music from any device. Balance even has a built-in microphone and speakerphone so you can clearly make and take your phone calls on the speaker.
Braven Balance is seriously loaded up with the best features. The IPX7 waterproof rating is pretty serious. Unlike most speakers that boast “water resistance”, Braven Balance can actually go swimming…for up to 30 minutes! That means you can bring it to all your pool parties, to the beach, to the shower(!), and best of all, handle it with wet hands.
Boost Mode is yet another extremely impressive feature. A lot of bluetooth speakers get loud, but when you’re jamming tunes outside for a lot of people, they struggle to get loud enough. The Braven Balance has an actual boost mode. What they don’t tell you is that it sacrifices some sound quality, which is why most speakers don’t offer it. But, when you’re outside cranking music, the last thing you’re thinking about is music clarity.
Yet another feature that most other speakers can’t compare to: an 18 hour battery life. Braven Balance can play music for up to 18 hours with the built-in 4000mAh rechargeable battery. lancBetter yet, if your phone is dying and needs some juice, you can just snag some from the Braven Balance. There’s a full sized USB port so you can charge any USB device. It’s awesome! You can even play music while you’re charging your USB device. The only bummer, and this is a big one for us, is that the Balance itself doesn’t charge with a standard cable (i.e. micro-USB). It requires their 5V 1A wall charger to charge.
So how does it sound? It sounds great! We’re really happy with the audio quality. “Balance” pretty much describes it. The music is very well balanced, the bass, the mids, and the highs complement each other well. There’s good bass without overwhelming, and it can get really thumpy depending on the music. Vocals pop and you can hear a lot of the finer audio nuances and details. Again, to it’s balanced name, this speaker is great for just about any genre, lighter acoustic or heavy rock and rap — it’s all good! Since we’re nitpickers, we will say that we’ve heard higher quality portable speakers, but you can’t have it all. At higher volumes for certain music, the mids may not be as clear as we’d like, but again it’s a nitpick and for the price it’s hard to ask for anything more.
All-in-all, the Braven Balance is a phenomenal Bluetooth speaker. While it’s not the most portable speaker, you’re going to want to take it everywhere. It’s a perfect balance (yep!) of every feature you’d want from a speaker. Long battery life, check. Immune to water, check. Sound quality and raw volume, oh yeah. USB charging and speakerphone too? Yes! It’s a wonderful speaker in a variety of sexy colors. Our only gripe, and we wish it weren’t so, is that it requires a AC wall charger, there’s no option to charge it with micro-USB. Pricing in at $129.99, you’re getting a whole lot of technology for the price. We’d say it’s worth every penny as far as bluetooth speakers go. The Braven Balance is currently available from Amazon.com for just $99.
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The Good: IPX7 waterproof, 18 hour battery, USB charging port, 5 Light battery indicator, Sounds great, Speakerphone sounds great, Audio Boost mode, Colors!
The Bad: Proprietary charging cable — no Micro USB charging