If you need a speaker for your iOS device that can handle the outdoors, the Braven 625s Outdoor Portable Bluetooth Speaker might be the solution. The 625s is a Bluetooth speaker for the outdoor enthusiast, whether for camping trips, tailgating or just backyard barbecues. The speaker is just over 6 inches long, 2.5 inches high, and less than 2 inches deep. It weighs in at just under a pound, so won’t add much to your pack weight if you take it along into the bush.
Sound quality and features
The speaker itself packs quite a punch, sound-wise, for such a small device. I tested the speaker during a camping trip, and was able to hear the music quite clearly, even from almost 50 feet away.
The quality of sound isn’t lacking, either. Two custom HD audio drivers provide stereo audio to the left and right channel 3W sub woofers, giving excellent bass, midrange, and treble output even at maximum volume.
Connectivity to the 625s is via Bluetooth 2.0 or 3.0 and works quite well from my iPhone, iPad, and Mac Mini. If a call comes in while your phone is paired with the 625s, you can use the speaker as a speakerphone solution. A press of the phone button on the side of the 625s will answer the call, and the 625s does have an internal microphone.
Braven 625s controls and line-in port
Don’t have Bluetooth? Not a problem, the 625s includes a 3.5mm line-in port and cable to connect to the headphone port of your device. This is also handy when you’re off the grid with no cell phone coverage and realize that AirPlay doesn’t work without a WiFi connection.
Playback control using the speaker is slightly awkward. Braven has mapped the phone and volume up/down buttons to also serve as Play/Pause and skip track buttons, requiring you to hold the buttons for a half second to pause, but 3 seconds to skip tracks. Dedicated buttons for these functions would have been appreciated, and the speaker appears to have the room to spare for accommodating the extra buttons.
Braven 625s line-out, battery check button, and USB port
In addition to the audio-in port, the 625s also includes a line-out port for daisy-chaining with other speakers.
The speaker system is powered by a 1700 mAh battery, which Braven claims will pump out your tunes for up to 16 hours. If you use the 625s to its fullest capacity, though, you might not see that much runtime, because the battery can be used for more than just powering the speaker.
The 625s is also a portable charging station. A USB port allows owners to recharge their iPhone or iPod directly from the speaker system. You can’t charge your iPad from the device, unfortunately, and Braven says attempting to do so will cause the charging circuitry to shut down until the device is powered off and back on again.
Take it outside without fear
If rain hits, or you take the 625s boating, Braven provides a way to protect your speaker (and iPhone) from the rain or waves. A weather proof bag comes with the 625s, and is big enough to hold the speaker, it’s accessories, and an iPhone or other smartphone or MP3 player. The bag doesn’t have a water-right seal, so it won’t keep your 625s dry if the bag is submerged. Still, the bag will protect the speaker against rainfall and splashes. A D-ring on the bag’s strap is useful for latching the bag to your backpack with a carabiner.
Braven 625s, weatherproof bag, and accessories
In addition to the protection from rain, the speaker itself is shock-proof. If you happen to knock the speaker off your picnic table, you don’t have to worry about damaging the 625s. While it isn’t exactly heavy, I found the 625s to be a rugged speaker perfectly at home providing a modern touch to our primitive campground site.
For those outdoor adventures that run into the night, the included USB flashlight is a handy addition. It certainly doesn’t match my high-power flashlights for light output, but the light can be useful for gathering all your components together to put them away before crawling into your sleeping bag. After all, you wouldn’t want the raccoons carting off your speaker or cables.
Finally, the wrist strap is nice for carrying your speaker, or hanging it from a sturdy branch.
Braven 625s, hanging from a tree
Braven’s 625s has style, ruggedness, and excellent sound quality. The ability to use the speaker as a portable charging station for iPhones and iPods is great for longer outdoor excursions. I’d definitely recommend the device for daily use as well as outdoor events.