There’s something mesmerizing about music. It allows time to pass on by without a second thought; it allows us to recall memories from years ago; it expresses who we are.

Could you imagine not having a radio in your car? How boring it would be while driving or how about when you go to work out or perhaps when just doing tasks around the house? Wouldn't you miss being able to listen to your music?

With summer just around the corner, it’s time once again to breakout that outdoor speaker and enjoy a relaxing day by the pool or a get-a-away at the beach. The only problem is, last year’s speakers may not have survived or are due for an upgrade.

When shopping for a new portable speaker, there are key features it must have. Ease of portability is number one, with sound quality right behind it, which is backed up by multiple methods of connectivity. However, when you throw in hands-free calling and a water-resistant speaker housing, that is the cherry on top, as the saying goes.

It wasn’t that long ago when I looked at a recent startup company dubbed, RIVA Audio. Backed by the company, Audio Design Experts, this new off-brand company had one product; a large, yet portable, indoor room speaker that packed a punch and received good remarks in my review.

This time around, RIVA Audio just recently released the little brother to the original RIVA Turbo X speaker from last year. Manufactured into a smaller form factor, but retaining its older brother’s speakers, the new RIVA S offers a new way to listen to your favorite tunes.

Welcome to my review of the RIVA Audio S. Throughout this review, I will be focusing on the design, sound quality, features, and my final thoughts of the product. A special thank you to RIVA Audio for providing me with this speaker.



Design

Just like the Turbo X, the RIVA S is remarkably similar in design with only slight adjustments made. This time around, the RIVA S is available in a third color including a white/gold mix to offset the white and black models.

Most notably different are the new improvements made to the top mounted I/O controls. The unit retains its capacitive buttons that glow a bright blue when active or activated. Likewise, the reflective glossy plastic top remains and does still smudge from finger prints. What is different, however, is the lack of the different sized buttons and the monstrous turbo button that would play a cheesy engine roar when activated. The RIVA S keeps it simple with buttons that are all the same size as well as offering a surround button that activates all of the speakers.

The holed metal speaker housing offers a great artistically pleasing design and wraps around the entire body. That said, there is a significant weight to the speaker at 1.5 pounds, but this weight does allow the speaker to sit firmly on nearly every surface.

A finishing tour around the RIVA S contains the rear connectivity I/O which includes an AUX 3.5mm jack, micro USB data in, a full sized USB port for charging a smartphone, DC power-in, and a battery power switch.

On the bottom are three red rubber feet that prevent sliding, but one of those rubber pads double as a cover for the rear I/O.

The original Turbo X was a larger beast which was well suited for living rooms and kitchens where it wouldn’t be moved too often. The RIVA S on the other hand is smaller with dimensions measuring at 7.5 in (191 mm) L x 2.5 in (64 mm) W x 2.6 in (66 mm) H. The unit fits very well in the hand, but when it comes to traveling, RIVA provides a carrying case of genuine quality.

In short, the carrying case has a soft touch padded felt inside that is sealed shut with Velcro. The speaker is a nice compact fit inside the case and should offer great resistance to drops and bumps. Material of the case is made out of woven vinyl and includes a carrying handle and carabiner.



Sound Quality

My usage of the RIVA S began with the connectivity of Bluetooth and loading my favorite Pandora playlist which I listen to for hours. With the speaker played below 50% volume for a minimum of three hours, I broke in the speakers and began to enjoy the pure sound the RIVA S had to offer.

It’s been a little over a month and a half with this speaker and whenever I fire it up, it doesn’t disappoint. With the surround sound mode activated, speaker sounds rich and full of sound. I listened to mainly rock and roll music with some top 40 songs thrown into the mix.

Mids and high were excellent and I really enjoyed the vocals of each song with musical instruments sounding as if they were in the room with you. The speaker gets quiet in the lows, but they still sounded spot on to my ear.

I listened to slow and fast songs, including live performances. With high quality bitrate music played locally on my PC and being streamed through Bluetooth to the speaker, closing my eyes and laying back, you almost feel as if you’re actually in the concert hall.

During my testing, I quite enjoyed subtle playback around the 50 – 60 percent volume which is perfect for a quiet home office setting. Then when my favorite song came on the playlist, I turned the speaker up to its highest level for maximum performance and outstanding sound. Even at high volume, there isn’t any noticeable degrade or change in the sound.

If I had a professional sound recording booth I would gladly record some music being played with the RIVA S, but anything below professional grade equipment wouldn’t do this unit justice. You’ll have to take my word for it when I say I was not even mildly disappointed with the sound quality of this speaker. I even found this model to be better than the Turbo X.

The only change I would make for the sound quality is to have the surround mode always activated. It’s an optional feature that will turn off speakers to conserve battery life, however, this mode really makes the speaker. In future models, I would like to see this always enabled or turned on by default.



Features

Just like the Turbo X, this RIVA S also has smartphone application capability to control volume and settings, but honestly, again I found no usage for it. Is it something neat to have offered? Yes, I suppose. Is it a requirement? No.

This speaker doesn’t just play music, but also includes wireless calling capability and contains two microphones for a reasonable voice recording.

I mentioned earlier that this speaker has a water-resistant shell and RIVA got this speaker approved for IPX4 water resistance which should be enough protection for accidental splashes from a pool, but submerging it would not be a good idea.

The RIVA S also includes lithium-ion battery which seems to last forever. I had the speaker sitting for a week or more before picking it up again and it still reported green on the battery indicator.



My Final Thoughts

I was stunned with the outcome of the RIVA S and how well it performed during my time with it. I loved the sound that it outputted and I can see myself ready for summer with this outside by the pool. It’s loud and looks outstanding from a design aspect. Priced at $249 it is labeled as a premium product, but I can assure you that you will not be disappointed. Whether you’re indoors, out in the garage, or by the beach, this little speaker is well worth it.

Buy it Now:



© 2016 Justin Vendette