Earlier this month Braven burst onto our radars with its excellent 650 Bluetooth portable speaker. Our only real gripe was cost so can Braven now address this with the cheaper 570?
It may be early days for Braven, but it has clearly established its style. The 570 looks almost identical to the 650 with the same rounded rectangular form factor and drilled speaker grills front and back which give it a minimalist, almost industrial look. That said this finish is where the first evidence of cost cutting is apparent as the 570 drops the aluminium finish of the 650 for matt moulded plastic polymer. Then again the polymer doesn’t look cheap, is impact resistant and means it is available in a range of colours with green, blue, purple, red, silver and black on offer (update: only black and white will be available in the UK initially). A further benefit is a weight drop which sees the 570 clock in a whole 88g lighter at 312g despite having virtually identical 6 x 2.5 x 2in dimensions.
When it comes to features we also remain in familiar territory. The 570 can stream audio via Bluetooth or 3.5mm jack, operate as a speakerphone for calls and cleverly charge a mobile device from its USB port. It charges itself over microUSB to avoid confusion. Interestingly the 570 packs the same pair of 40mm drivers, 40mm passive subwoofer, class D digital amplifier (delivering a total of 6W) and matching output level of 95dB at 0.5 metres.
But there are differences. On the audio side the 570 loses support for the AptX codec carried by the 650. AptX drastically improves the quality of audio streamed over Bluetooth, though notably it is required on both destination and source to work. In this regard most Android handsets have adopted AptX, but Apple has not added it to iPhones - perhaps in an effort to protect AirPlay speaker support - so if you are a Cupertino fan the omission makes no odds.
More significantly the 2000mAh battery capacity in the 650 is downgraded to 1200mAh which sees a fall from 20 to 10 quoted hours on a single charge. The knock on effect is the 570 won’t be able to fully recharge any of the leading smartphones such as the iPhone 5 (1440mAh), iPhone 4S (1430mAh), Galaxy S3 (2100mAh) and Note 2 (3100mAh).
So how does it sound? Given the 570 uses the same components as the 650 we have a device that lives up to its bigger brother. The 570 packs a surprising amount of punch that belies its 6W rating and is powerful enough to fill a medium size bedroom or hotel room. If used primarily for talk radio or podcasts the 570 will work in larger rooms too.
In terms of audio quality the 570 also pleases. Despite their proximity the little speakers do a good job of outputting stereo while bass, mid and high ranges are all well balanced. Distortion does occur (primarily in higher frequencies) at maximum volume, but not to a level that destroys listening enjoyment. Given the lack of AptX where the 570 cannot match the 650 is performance over Bluetooth, but in truth while it has a massive impact on larger speaker systems it isn’t a deal breaker for drivers of this size. Only using the audio output hooked up to a proper Hi-Fi will reveal the loss of detail.