With an easy to remember name, the Riva S is a Bluetooth mobile speaker that is available in a choice of three colour schemes. You can opt for Black with Titanium, White with Silver or, as in the case of my review unit, White with Gold. In each case the first colour is used for the top and bottom of the unit while the second colour decorates the heavily perforated aluminium band that encircles the main body as it acts as the speaker grille. The overall effect is pleasing to the eye but does this really justify the price point of the Riva S which is set at £199.
Included in the box with this speaker unit is a Universal Power Supply that has swappable plugs for the UK, USA and European use – great for those who travel around – plus a 3.5mm to dual RCA connection lead and a 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio lead. You also get a lined ballistic nylon carry-case that has both a belt strap and carabiner clip for storing the Riva S when not required for entertainment use. Disappointingly the case is just large enough for the speaker so the various leads will need to be stored elsewhere.
Having looked at several Bluetooth speakers in the past, I was surprised to discover that the lead for powering the device and its battery was not of the USB type. The designers of the Riva S have opted to go with a 19V cylindrical connection. While this type of connection may mean that there will be a speed increase in the charging process, it does reduce the chance of being able to double up with a lead used by another device.
With its dimensions of 19 x 7 x 7cm (W x H x D) and weighing 763g, the Riva S concentrates its main controls along the top of the speaker unit. Here you will find six capacitive buttons which light up when activated by the presence of a finger. By default these buttons are designated for Power, Trillium Surround (patented proprietary technology designed to improve audio quality), Bluetooth, Mute, Volume Down and Volume Up. When used in various combinations these controls add numerous other features including cycling through tracks, party mode or key lock.
There is also a second method of controlling the Riva S. This method involves downloading the Riva Audio app from the iOS or Android store. On its first run the app will need to search for and pair with your Riva device. With this app, which can display any associated graphic art that was available, you can adjust the volume level, cycle through tracks, shuffle tracks, reveal song info, delete items and add to a favourites’ list.
Located on the rear of the speaker, near the bottom, are connection ports with each one being labelled as to its purpose. Reading from the left, these connection ports are for 3.5mm jack AUX, a micro USB port if you prefer a tethered link to a USB device, a standard USB port for charging a smartphone and a 19V DC power port. There is also a slider button for switching to battery power. Depending upon the volume level of the audio output, the battery should provide between 5 and 13 hours of playback. I was able to get 11½ hours when using the speaker in background listening mode.
It was during my sessions listening to the audio delivered by the Riva S that the price point of the product began to make sense. Built into the Riva S are three active drivers and four passive radiators which certainly put their own slant onto the speaker’s performance. The arrangement of these drivers and radiators is important in order to create a 300-degree sound field. The Riva S achieves this with one active driver and two passive radiators at the front sandwiched between an active driver on each side plus the final two passive radiators at the rear. Added to this arrangement is the Trillium Audio Technology which enlarges audio images while allowing the power of the audio to be reproduced without excessive compression affecting the output.
When paired with a smartphone, the Riva S can act in speakerphone mode using the two tiny microphones on the top of the unit. You can accept or reject calls. You also get the advantage of the Riva S’s built-in echo-cancelling facility.
As the Riva S is meant to be a mobile device, it can be used in various locations including those near water. As a result the Riva S is IPX4 rated which means it is splash proof. You will need to take some protection measure which might not be initially so obvious. On the base of the speaker is what I thought were three rubber feet to provide a firm base. Actually one of the so-called feet is removable and can be used to provide a protective cover for the sockets on the rear of the speaker.
While the Riva S might not be the loudest Bluetooth speaker I have tried out, it does produce excellent audio quality that will be fine for small areas. There is also the option to pair two units for greater volume and stereo capabilities. While the price of £199 might seem high, you do get what you pay for.
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