Review: Braven 850 and 855S

Braven | BlueTooth Speaker | $299.00[​IMG]We first met Braven when they released the BRV-1 portable, water-resistant speakers. Since then, they have come out to release the 850 and 855S speaker systems that are designed to be larger speaker sets. They can still head out on the go, but can also stay in and be used well as a set of indoor speaker system. They have some really nice, unique features that will also set them apart from the rest as well. 

Specifications

Drivers: 2 Dynamic Drivers + 2 Passive Radiators

In the Box

Braven 850 or 855 Bluetooth Speaker
3.5mm to 3.5mm Auxiliary Cable

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Design

The design of the 850 and 855 continues on with the house-design that Braven has used in their previous speaker models, the 650 and 625 respectively. In essence, Braven took those designs and made them bigger. Large, sheets of perforated metal surround the back and front of each speaker respectively. While the entire shell of the 850 is a single block of metal, with the sides plastic, the 855 has rubber surrounding the metal sheets. Both have the industrial durable look to them. The 850 has a sleeker design to the 855’s rugged one.

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Design: ★★★★★

Audio

Two active speakers power audio through the 850 and 855 while passive radiators on the rear give proper bass production to create a very dynamic system. The 850 and 855 both utilize the same speaker setup and are tuned the same. A design unique to the 850 and 855 series is that they can be daisy chained to one another to create a pair of stereo speakers for twice the fun.

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The sound of the 850 and 855 is overall a smoother sound that has no major focus on any part of the spectrum. It does have its pitfalls, but all in all, it’s a very well-done sound signature. The speakers do their best to create a sound that isn’t offensive so the treble is ample, but polite; especially in the lower treble.

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The bass of the Braven is powered by passive twin-radiators that act as twin woofers. It may sound like this will create overly-bassy sound, the fact-of-the-matter is that the bass is very well reserved to a good level. Although the bass can reach into the lower regions, it still has a little trouble getting into the lower sub-regions to create proper texturing at times. The texturing is very solid overall rather than having more fluidity. The radiators allow the low-bass to have a nice, defined impact. The midbass has a nice punch to it that isn’t over done. The bass is more reserved and tighter in nature and provides good accuracy in the lower and mid-bass.

The midrange of the 850/855 is actually well-balanced overall with a slight focus on the lower midrange. This actually ends up giving the speakers great detailing that is actually a little aggressive in nature rather than a warmer midrange that you’d normally see with a boosted lower-mid. Vocals remain very lush and strong with ample energy, although it could do a little better at the latter. The upper midrange offers a very nice amount of clarity. Separation and staging is actually accomplished very well as the Braven do a great job layering instruments.

The treble that the Braven provide is overall pleasing to listen to. The main weakness would be the lower treble as snare snaps, although have good presence and detailing, don’t seem to really snap and strongly as they should. Other than that, the lower treble does a great job at the rest. Treble is well extended into the upper treble allow very strong sparkle that sparkles very well, but is never sibilant. Detailing and separation, like with the midrange, are exceptional.

Audio: ★★★★½

Build

Both of these speakers are well crafted using beautiful pieces of metal that give them both an extremely industrial look. They should easily take some bit of abuse before they begin to show it. The housings on the 855 feel very solid and strong with the metal exterior that not only looks great, but feels as well.

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The 855 has the advantage of being a little more shock resistant do to the rubber that surrounds the housing. It’s also water resistant which the 850 doesn’t have. The styling and feel of the 855 does make it a lot more rugged than the 850 which feels and looks sleek. With that said, the 855 does offer a little better protection, but both are extremely well built down to the finest details.

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Build: ★★★★★

Value

The 850 and 855S come priced at just under 300 dollars. The only differences between them is the external housing. The 855 has the additional water resistant housing which may or may not be something you are looking for. If you don’t need it, I do suggest the 850 as it simply looks smoother and stylish. Overall, the 300 dollar price tag has good value. You get great audio quality, but also a plethora of features that come in good use. Some of these features can use improvement though.

They both have the ability to daisy chain to each other (2 850s, 2 855s, or mix 850 and 855) to create a better stereo imaging and wireless stereo placement in a larger room. This is definitely a beautiful feature with these speakers. I do wish that if you turned on a one of the matched speakers it would automatically turn on the second one and connect to it, a minor gripe. In my testing, I was unable to figure out how to use the auxiliary input with the speakers daisy chained to each other. This was definitely a downer as well.

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With that said, each speaker individually allows the use of an auxiliary input if you are one that isn’t into BT audio. If your device doesn’t support BT, this is also very useful as well. With that said, you normally will get better audio output with a direct connection. The speakers support APT-X but not Apple’s AAC. This is definitely something that I’d like to see come to Braven speakers in the future. There exist no Apple device as of right now that supports APT-X.

There is a huge battery in the speaker that allows you to jam for hours on end, my iPod will die twice (at least) before the speaker goes. There is a USB port on the speaker that can be used to charge your device while you jam out. We know that BT drains your battery, so this is definitely a nice feature to have.

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The Braven speakers do have some dedicated buttons on it outside the power button. A phone button allows you to answer calls and use its noise mic to do speaker phone. Volume control controls the internal amplifier, so you are using dual volume (from the device and the speaker) while they also double as the next and previous buttons for music control. There is also a dedicated play pause button.

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Value: ★★★★

Final Thoughts

Braven did a good job with their 850 and 855 BT speakers which sound great wirelessly. The daisy chaining is a unique feature that I haven’t seen in too many BT speakers and definitely adds value to the speakers, but it can use some future improvement. Despite the lack of AAC codec support, the Braven 850 and 855 are absolutely wonderful speakers and great to use on the go or at home.

I’d like to thank Pedro for the product sample.

Overall Score

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Braven 850 | Braven 855

† All prices are in US currency.
This review was written by the iFans.com Review Team. Cumulative scores are rounded to the nearest half or full star.
This accessory, product, or app was received as a sample. Thanks Pedro for the product sample.

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