Braven isn’t a widely known name in general, but it is in the Bluetooth speaker market. The company has some of the most powerful portable wireless speakers out there, and they’re equally as notable with durability. It also helps that the speakers are readily available and highly-rated on Amazon, and offer good value for the money.
One of Braven’s newest additions is the Ready Elite. This one lands on the larger end of the company’s “Outdoor” series, so it’s a speaker that leans more on power than portability. But it’s still way more transportable than the ridiculous BRV-XXL. This Synopsis lays out the important details.
The size (and weight) of the Ready Elite isn’t for the faint of heart. But that is Braven’s target audience with this one – those who want a loud, party-capable speaker that is free from wires and easy to move about. Granted, it pushes the limit of a mobile device you’d transport in a bag, but it can be done. On the flip-side, something has to be said about the ability to blast away your friends on the go.
- House-shaking acoustic power
- Virtually indestructible casing
- Shock and IP68 water protection
- Healthy battery life
- Can charge other devices
- Expensive for a Bluetooth speaker
- Large and thick (takes two hands to safely carry)
- Bass is undeniably overdone
- Relatively big charging brick and non-USB power jack
- Bluetooth range could be better
What it’s like to use
- We’ve emphasized the fact that the Ready Elite is large for a portable speaker. Here it is next to the more conventionally-sized UE Blast (which we’ve also looked at).
- The footprint isn’t so much substantial from the height as it is depth (just over 3.5″). It’s really because the thickness that we can’t confidently carry it around with one hand. That is, with average-sized hands.
- The unit, being tank-like in structure, also looks like it weighs a ton. We were pleasantly surprised that it’s lighter than suggested. Braven doesn’t supply a number, but we feel something 3 lbs.
- The Ready Elite looks like it fires sound from one direction, with its domineering front Aluminum grill, but it’s actually a three-directional sound. You’ll see additional grills on both sides. The speaker is configured with two subwoofers on the sides, and two full-range drivers at the front.
- Being a Bluetooth speaker, you’ll be doing most of the controlling via the paired mobile device, but there are a few buttons on the unit. Following the power button atop, you’ll find common controls for volume, play/pause, Bluetooth re-pairing, and voice actions (taking calls or toggling mobile device’s virtual assistant).
- It’s hard to miss those beefy anchors on both ends of the top surface. Braven includes a shoulder strap in the box. Being a larger-than-average speaker, you may want to transport it like so. The unit is symmetrical, so you’ll find the same design on the bottom.
- All of the I/O is packed under a thick flap on the back. You’ll see the barrel power input, aux port for optional wired audio input, USB-A port for output power to a mobile device, and battery indicator. You’ll have to be mindful to completely press down the flap when you’re done with it, to preserve waterproofing. Its brawny nature requires you to press it very firmly to entirely seat the seal.
- The Ready Elite’s unboxing experience is noteworthy. The speaker looks like its behind glass (really, plastic). The box’s base is a compartment that contains all the accessories.
- We were surprised to find a barrage of worldly power outlet support – we guess that Braven didn’t want to deal with different packaging for different regions. But this just seems like a waste. You’ll just pick the cable that works for you and toss the rest.
- The Ready Elite doesn’t have anything fancy like WiFi and Alexa support on the UE Blast. It’s a straight-up Bluetooth speaker. This means it’s really easy to get started – turn it on and pair, that’s it.
- Well, that’s almost it. Braven generously developed its own, complementary app. It has a few basic but useful functions, most notably, an equalizer (we’ll talk about why this is important shortly).
- The ruggedness that the Ready Elite portrays is the real deal. We touched on its water/dust-proof quality (robust IP68 ingress rating). Braven even advertises that it can float, so they’re not worried about water damage whatsoever. The thick “thermoplastic” chassis is said to provide shock/impact-proofing (and it certainly feels like this thing can take any beating), but we don’t see Braven claim any durability standard like the common military MIL-STD-810G.
- 5,200 mAh is a lot of battery, but we would’ve expected more for the speaker’s size (and power requirement). The battery life is decent, with an estimated 12 hours, but not outstanding (on par with the UE Blast, for instance).
- The Bluetooth connection is reliable but range could be better. It isn’t hard for audio to cut off when walking a few feet from the speaker with phone in pocket. The much smaller UE Blast held up much better for us in the same walkabout test.
- Like with many Bluetooth speakers, Braven overlooks the higher fidelity wireless audio codec, aptX. This is unfortunate, as many smartphones support it these days.
- The selling point of the Ready Elite is its powerhouse sonic output, and it doesn’t disappoint. As part of Braven’s “Outdoor” series, the speaker has the capacity to sound larger than life even in an open space. The bass, in particular, is impressively unfazed by the fact. This is a true party-capable speaker despite the lack of wires.
- If that’s the good, the bad is that Braven isn’t very mindful of finesse. The bass is just too much. We like a deep rumble and moving thump as much as the next basshead, but you can get to the point where the bass overtakes the mid-range, and that’s the case here. The end-result is a muddy and bloated lower half of the spectrum. It’s not to an unlistenable extent to an audiophile’s ear (at least, this one), but just sounds like something’s off.
- Fortunately, the quality of the bass is decent. Its strong presence reveals a lot in the low-end that you may not have noticed before. We’re impressed at the deepness of the sub-bass – a common challenge in Bluetooth speakers. Some great clarity and detail does shine around bloaty bass, but it’s a continual conflict.
- We like the tone of the mid-range and the potency of vocals. It’s a shame that’s the region gets beat down by the bass so much. The treble can similarly pull some crisp detail. The range isn’t as prominent as it can be, so you’ll have listen for it.
- The Ready Elite’s best quality is its expansive sound, which is dimensional rather than unidirectional.
- We were relieved to hear about an equalizer in Braven’s companion app, but it’s not the complete solution that we were hoping for. You can only choose between a handful of presets, rather than a user-customizable frequency response. We would’ve liked to hear the Ready Elite with solely the bass (mostly the mid-bass) dropped down a few dB. A couple of the presets do tone down the bass (i.e. “Vocal” and “Folk”), but we really want proper control.
There are a lot of Bluetooth speakers out there, and several that manage to be excellent and not break the band at the same time. The Ready Elite isn’t really made to compete with these. It’s a specialty speaker, aimed for those who want great power but still a manageable form. In our opinion, Braven succeeded in provided that kind of solution. The Ready Elite isn’t too big to causally transport and its sound punches way above its weight.
But that proficiency comes at a $299 premium. And you’re not getting a perfect sound for that price. We’d like to see Braven refine its bass response in future speakers. It’s keeping them from being one of the greats.