Bluetooth speakers? Where do you start? The market is currently awash with speakers which fill every part of the price point spectrum. I was recently contacted by Say it Loud to ask if I wished to review one of their latest Bluetooth speakers, the Riva S. At first I was apprehensive about reviewing yet another BlueTooth speaker, but I thought I would give it a go.
What’s in the box
The speaker itself (which I’ll go into in more detail later in the post), a high-quality, velvet-lined ballistic nylon carrying case fitted with a carabiner clip, and an international power supply with swappable plug adapters for the UK, USA, and the EU (which is really handy for travelling). Unfortunately the case isn’t big enough to include the power supply, though.
- Build quality
- Sound quality
- Nice companion app
- Can be used as a powerbank
- Proprietary charger
- No media controls
- Only IPX4 for water resistance
The speaker measures in at 19 cm wide, 7 cm high, and 7 cm thick. Although the speaker only weighs in at half a kilogramme, strangely it feels a lot heavier. It feels solid and dense, as though every square millimetre of the Riva S is filled with electronic gadgetry.
Riva Chairman Rikki Farr and company President Don North, each of whom have decades of experience in the sound industry especially live audio for concerts, (so its safe to say have an expert ear) spent more than nine months fine-tuning the Riva S’ sound.
The RIVA S is packed with the company’s patented and proprietary technology ADX Trillium, which creates a 300-degree sound field by distributing a stereo signal across the Riva’s three 40mm full-range drivers (one faces front and there’s one mounted on each end-cap).
Riva states that this Trillium design creates
the psychoacoustic perception of a wider stereo sound stage and coherent timbral accuracy even as you move off-axis.
I think this means that the speaker still sounds good no matter where you are in a room.
On the top of the speaker are capacitive buttons for power/surround/BlueTooth/mute/volume up and down. A really neat feature of these buttons is their ability to illuminate as your hands get close to the top of them, so there must be a proximity sensor in the top of the speaker.
Round the back of the speaker is a handy battery indicator, (on the battery front Riva claims the speaker will deliver 13 hours of battery life if played at 70dB, but you’ll get only about five hours of play time at full volume), a power switch, the 19 V DC charging port, a USB A port so that you can use the Riva’s battery as a powerbank to charge other devices, a Micro USB data port and a 3.5 mm aux in port if you want to use a wired connection to the speaker.
The RIVA S is splash-proof, so it’ll shrug off some spills. A small piece of rubber can detach from the bottom to be applied over the inputs and outputs, creating a water-resistant seal.
I charged up the speaker for a couple of hours beforehand and then powered up the speaker. The resulting sound on bootup gave me a sneak preview of things to come, I paired the speaker to my OnePlus 2 and downloaded the companion app from the Google Play Store.
Once all sorted, I then had to decide what to play. My music service of choice was Deezer, as they have a high bitrate of playback, and a better quality to the sound. I fired up some classic AC/DC (you cant beat a bit of Thunderstruck) and the music that came out of the speaker can only be described as WOW. The clarity and sound were second-to-none and to honest, no speaker of this size should sound this good. Don’t get me wrong, this is not the loudest BlueTooth speaker I’ve reviewed, but it was able to fill the room with an amazing sound, easily on a par with a more expensive, albeit older, Bose speaker I have.
On a side note, Riva states to play the speaker at only 50% volume for the first few hours to “break in” the speakers so I will imagine both the volume and sound quality will increase, which isn’t a bad thing.
Another feature of the Riva S is what the company calls TrueWireless. This enables you to add a second Riva S and play both as a stereo pair. The first (master) speaker always acts as the left channel and the second (slave) acts as the right channel. The master speaker’s buttons remain functional while the slaves controls are defeated. Riva recommends you keep the pair within 10 feet of each other and in the same room, to prevent any latency or interference problems.
The speaker can also function as an echo-canceling speakerphone, thanks to tiny microphones built into the top of the unit. You can accept, reject, and end calls without touching your phone— just press buttons that are also on top of the unit. While in speakerphone mode, the Riva S applies a special EQ setting that boosts mid-range frequencies, so you can hear voices more clearly. In my real-world tests, the speakerphone feature worked well; but perhaps unsurprisingly, the people on the other end of my calls said I still sounded like I was on speakerphone.
The Riva S is a extremely well made quality speaker with a truly amazing sound. It has some nice touches being splashproof, having the built-in ability to be a powerbank, and the ability to pair with a second speaker to make a stereo pair. The speaker does have a few minor worrisome points, one being the price. its currently available from Amazon for £199. Also, the speaker comes with its own proprietary charger, which doesn’t fit in the supplied carry case, and there are no media controls on the speaker – but this can be taken care of with the companion app.
** Update ** The missing media controls I mentioned earlier in the review are actually implemented. Keep vol +/- pressed for a second and it will jump to the next song, S and Bluetooth takes you a track back.