Not everyone needs a portable Bluetooth speaker with a powerful subwoofer and a built-in bottle opener, but for those who do, Braven has you covered. The BRV-XXL/2 is simply a behemoth—it gets super loud and delivers serious rumble, certainly enough to power an outdoor party. Its water-resistant design and built-in handle are both useful features for the great outdoors, as well. Throw in speakerphone functionality and adjustable bass/treble EQ, and you get a lot of speaker for the admittedly high $399.99 list price.
The BRV-XXL/2 is indeed portable, but it’s in the category of massive, tank-like portable speakers designed to output serious audio firepower. Measuring 9 by 22 by 9 inches (HWD), the speaker weighs in at a hefty 17.4 pounds. Its IPX5-rated exterior can withstand low-pressure water spray, so light rain and splashes won’t affect it, but don’t try to float it in the pool or spray it down with the garden hose. Internally, 4 full-range 15-watt drivers (in pairs, facing front and back), 1 down-firing 40-watt subwoofer, and dual passive radiators deliver the audio.
There’s a sturdy built-in handle across the top of the speaker, and it ships with a detachable shoulder strap that connects at the ends of the handle. On the left side panel, the flip-out bottle opener is flanked by rubberized buttons for power, pairing, linking (with another BRV-XXL/2 speaker), volume/track up/down, and play/pause/call management. There are three buttons labeled Volume, Bass, and Treble, and selecting one allows you to adjust EQ or volume—a white LED lets you know which you’re adjusting. That’s a good thing, because the buttons themselves can be a bit difficult to see on the all-black design.
Unfortunately, Braven opted to combine the volume controls with the track navigation controls—pressing and holding to skip a track, tapping to adjust volume. It’s far too easy to accidentally skip a track when you mean to adjust volume levels.
On the right panel, there’s a battery status LED and a covered connection panel that includes a 3.5mm mic input for sing-alongs, a 3.5mm aux input, and a USB port for charging mobile devices using the speaker’s battery—no cables are included for these connections, however. There’s also a pinhole reset button and a connection for the included power supply. The speakers supports Bluetooth 5.0 and AAC/SBC codecs, but not AptX.
Braven estimates battery life to be roughly 18 hours, but your results will vary with your volume levels.
While it is possible to adjust the bass and treble, the descriptions below are with the neutral default settings. On tracks with intense sub-bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the BRV-XXL/2 delivers a thunderous low-frequency response. At absolute maximum volume, the lows on this track can start to cause a slight hint of distortion to occur—not ideal at this price—but dialing back the volume even slightly remedies this, and the speaker gets very loud to begin with, so we won’t view this as a deal breaker. At moderate to high volume levels, the bass here is powerful, but doesn’t eat up the whole mix—there’s a decent high-frequency presence here, as well.
Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with far less deep bass in the mix, gives us a better sense of the BRV-XXL/2’s general sound signature. The drums on this track pack some seriously boosted low-end, giving them far more bass depth than they typically have. Callahan’s baritone vocals get plenty of low-mid richness, as well, but there is at least a solid high-mid and high-frequency presence balancing out the sound signature. Balanced though it may be, the mids are dialed back, and this is a scooped sound before you even fiddle with the bass or treble parameters.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop receives enough high-mid presence for its attack to retain its punchiness, but it gets far more bass boosting than we’re used to hearing, so the punch is less notable than the bass-heavy thump. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are delivered with gusto, but it’s the drum loop itself that seems to pack the most low-frequency oomph, which isn’t always the case with this track. The vocal performances are delivered with solid high-mid clarity, and perhaps hint of added sibilance, but they hold their own against a backdrop of seriously boosted bass.
Orchestral tracks, like the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, sound surprisingly wonderful through the BRV-XXL/2. Sure, this isn’t an accurate sound signature, but the lows are rich and robust without sounding too heavily boosted, while the higher-register brass, strings, and vocals are bright, crisp, and clear. It’s a sculpted, dialed-up sound, but it lends the mix some excitement without exaggerating any frequency range too dramatically—this is mainly because this type of recording lacks the intense sub-bass we hear in a lot of modern electronic/pop music.
The speakerphone mic offers average intelligibility. We could understand every word we spoke and the mic signal itself was strong, but there was some typical fuzzy Bluetooth distortion muddling things up a bit. Regardless, it should be fine for quick calls, just maybe not for business conference calls.
The Braven BRV-XXL/2 is a beast. If you need powerful bass in a huge, robust build that can get wet and open beer for you, this speaker will not disappoint. But there are plenty of other good options out there, including the $450 JBL PartyBox 300, which delivers a light show with its massive audio, and the $400 Ultimate Ears Hyperboom, another huge, pumped-up option. As for boombox-shaped speakers with handles like this one, the $500 JBL Boombox is a winner, and between the two, it’s hard to definitively say one is much better than the other—both offer sculpted sound signatures, both are large and outdoor-friendly, but only the Braven has a bottle opener.
Braven BRV-XXL/2 Specs