Big names like JBL and UE own the portable weatherproof wireless speaker space for good reason: These speakers frequently top our best waterproof speaker list for their portable designs, good sound, and long lasting batteries.
So what’s a speaker-maker to do to stand out against the competition? For Braven, makers of the beloved BRV-1, that means filling specific niches.
The Braven Ready Solo offers everything JBL and UE’s outdoor speakers offer but with one unique trick: a GoPro-style mount. This allows users to get creative with where they place the speaker, similar to the Fugoo Style, but with the added benefit of all your GoPro accessories being compatible right out of the box.
During our testing, we were impressed with the package Braven managed to create with the Ready Solo speaker: The speaker offers good sound, 12-hour battery life, a unique form factor and can take just about anything you can throw at it.
The Braven Ready Solo won’t win any design awards with its bulky form factor and all-black look but it’s design is pragmatic rather than aesthetically interesting. Instead of the cloth that drapes most outdoor speakers these days, the Ready Solo's outer chassis is made entirely of rubber, metal and plastic making it pretty darn durable.
These outer layers of protection help make the Braven Ready Solo IP68-rated, the same dust and water resistance as phones like the Samsung Galaxy S9. This dust and waterproof is achieved by having a sealed speaker unit and inputs hidden by a beefy rubber flap on the back of the speaker.
Under the flap you’ll find a microUSB charging port, battery life check button, 3.5mm aux jack, a USB-A port for using the Ready Solo as a battery pack for your phone, and a reset button. This is a lot of functionality for a compact, waterproof speaker especially when compared to a competitor like the UE Wonderboom, which only features a microUSB charging port.
One downside of the Braven Ready Solo is that it only offers directional audio – i.e. you won’t find 360-degree audio here. Depending on your use, not having 360-degree audio isn’t a big deal, especially since the Ready Solo gets loud, but if you're throwing a party where the music is the center attraction, you might want to consider picking a speaker slightly better at dispersing the sound.
The pièce de résistance is the included GoPro-style mounting plate that lets you mount the Braven Ready Solo to just about anything – which is a huge benefit for those of us who have heavily invested in GoPro accessories.
Annoyingly, however, the mounting plate requires the removal of two hex screws. We wish Braven created a tool-less mounting solution but the decision to use hex screws does offer a solid mounting solution that should stand up to the abuses of the outdoors. (For example, you won’t have to worry about the Ready Solo flying off your ATV if you mount it on the handlebars.)
The Braven Ready Solo offers balanced sound that’s slightly bass-shy. For a relatively compact outdoor speaker, though, this isn’t surprising. The Ready Solo offers about the same amount of bass response as the UE Wonderboom and if you must have thumping bass for around the same price, check out the JBL Charge 3.
One of the best parts of the Ready Solo’s sound is the lack of distortion, even at max volume. Music sounds natural and unstrained, which we can’t say about many compact waterproof speakers. Highs are extended and right on the edge of being bright. Mids are a highlight, sounding natural and full.
Compared to the UE Wonderboom, the Braven Ready Solo gets the edge in sound quality – which is really quite a compliment. Whilst we enjoyed the Wonderboom’s compact form factor and design, the speaker sounds a bit strained at mid to high volumes, something Braven's Ready Solo simply doesn’t exhibit.
Battery life is rated at 12 hours, although we observed about 10 at medium to high listening levels. Still, the battery life is quite good, putting it slightly above what we'd expect to see from a speaker of this size.
One additional feature we were surprised to see on the Ready Solo was the inclusion of a microphone. Voice quality was excellent with friends and family reporting clear audio throughout all of our calls.
The Braven Ready Solo is an excellent sounding speaker for its size, durability and price. Against tough competition in the market, the Ready Solo is a good alternative against the JBLs and UE speakers thanks to its well-rounded features and unique mounting solution which lets you use your GoPro mounts.
For a reasonable $99 (about £72, AU$127) you get a lot of sonic performance wrapped in a durable chassis. Battery life is good and the speaker never sounds strained, even at high listening volumes. While bass lovers won’t be impressed with the Ready Solo’s shy bass response, it’s an understandable compromise for a speaker of this size.
While the UE Wonderboom offers a better design and form factor with its 360-degree sound and small footprint, we think the Braven Ready Solo offers better sound quality and more features for about the same money.