Braven BRV-XXL/2 rugged speaker hands-on: Big size, big sound, and built for 18 hours of blissful audio playback

While we may be limited from where we can travel at the moment, families can still enjoy life outside in their yard and eventually will hit the beach, park, mountains, and more in the coming months. Braven has a new portable speaker that offers the best sound I've ever experienced from a single unit.

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Google Home speakers litter the inside of my house while I have a couple of Ultimate Ears small portable speakers to enjoy outside. The folks at ZAGG sent along the new Braven BRV-XXL/2 rugged portable speaker for me to try out and I almost fell out of my lawn chair in sheer joy listening to classic rock blast out of this boombox speaker.

The BRV-XXL/2 is a large speaker with a weight of 17.4 pounds, but you quickly forget about the weight as soon as you connect your phone and stream audio to the speaker. My family has been enjoying the spring sunshine and glorious audio performance from the speaker in our back yard. The audio is so good, that I have also been using it inside as the best speaker in the house. It was used to play my Star Wars soundtracks when we went "bar hopping" in various rooms last Saturday.

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Retail package and hardware walk around

The Braven BRV-XXL/2 arrived in a very large box with a large brick power supply and a small user guide. An adjustable shoulder strap is included with metal loop bars to secure the strap to the top of the speaker.

The speaker is black with substantial soft rubber material on the top, sides, and bottom while the plastic mesh material is protected from bumps with the bumpers. A large, rigid handle lets you carry it around with easy.

The right side of the speaker has an assortment of buttons with a hidden feature in the center. On the left column you will find the broadcast pairing button, power button, and Bluetooth pairing button. With broadcast pairing support, you can actually connect up to 100 BRV-XXL/2 speakers. I imagine you would only do that if you were trying to have an outdoor concert with only Braven speakers.

On the right column of that same side of the speaker you will find the volume up/skip forward button, play/pause button, and volume down/skip back button. Skips are activated with a press and hold.

Between these two columns of buttons is a magnetic bottle opener. Simply flip up the metal Braven word about 45 degrees and then you can safely open up your soda or beer with the speaker.

Flipping around to the other end of the speaker, we find a LED light indicator, 3.5mm audio port, microphone port, DC input for the A/C adapter to charge the speaker, USB-A charge out so you can use the speaker to charge up your phone or other mobile gear, and a reset button in case you need to clear the speaker of pairings. All of the ports are protected by a substantial rubber cover that flips down to access the ports.

There are four large rubber feet on the bottom to keep the speaker above the ground and to keep it sliding off of a surface. The large subwoofer s visible through the grille at the bottom. Tables shake a bit when the subwoofer is pounding out the bass and if the volume is loud enough you can feel a bit of vibration while sitting close to the speaker.

Specifications

  • Subwoofer, two passive radiators, four full-range drivers with 100W output
  • USB-A port to charge up mobile devices, 15,600 mAh battery bank
  • IPX5 waterproof rating
  • Bluetooth 5.0 with 100 feet range
  • 18 hours of music playtime
  • Can also serve as a speakerphone for calls
  • Dimensions: 22 x 8 x 9 inches and 17.4 pounds
  • Price: $399.99

Daily usage experiences

While the default bass and treble settings were perfect for me, you can also increase or decrease these to your liking. Simply press the power button to toggle between volume, treble, and bass modes on the + or - buttons and the LED will indicate what mode you have activated.

The speaker is also waterproof certified to IPX5 so it can take heavy rainfall or splashing for up to 30 minutes. Make sure the ports are closed and secured. I did not have a chance to test it in a wet environment and it's still safest not to do that too often.

The speaker can also be used as a speakerphone with phone calls and during this period of lockdown, it is one way to make sure an entire family can hear the caller on the other end. You can also rest your phone on top of the speaker with the handle servicing as the back of an integrated phone stand.

In my testing, the battery lasted for many hours and I believe the advertised 18 hours is accurate. When the remaining power drops to 20% then you will hear an audible warning to let you know to charge it soon.

Make sure to register the speaker as it comes with a two-year warranty that covers defects in materials or workmanship. The $399.99 price makes this a speaker you only buy if you have a need for a very loud and amazing outdoor speaker. If you do buy it, I think you will be amazed by the performance though.