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Riva S Bluetooth speaker review: A portable, wireless speaker for music lovers

Theo Nicolakis | March 8, 2016
The small and lightweight Riva S is a music-lover and audiophile’s portable dream-come-true.

The market is awash in Bluetooth speakers, so a new model has to offer something extra special or really different to capture our attention, especially when that new speaker is from a new company.

Riva Audio promises that its Riva S portable Bluetooth speaker meets that objective by reproducing music in a manner that will satisfy both music lovers and audiophiles. Not only has the company largely delivered on that promise, it’s also come up with a number of new features that differentiate its speaker from the broad competition.

The rectangular Riva S is small at only 7.5 inches wide, 2.6 inches high, and 2.5 inches thick. While It weighs a mere 1.5 pounds, it feels solid and dense as though every square inch of the Riva S is filled.

To make it easy to take the speaker with you, Riva Audio provides a high-quality, velvet-lined ballistic nylon carrying case and a carabiner clip. The case isn’t big enough to include the international power supply and its swappable U.S., U.K., E.U., and Asia plug adapters, though.

Turn two channels into three for big sound

Riva Audio says it has paid meticulous attention to the speaker’s design and sound. The amp, transducer, and mechanical design were all engineered in-house. Riva Chairman Rikki Farr and Riva President Don North, each of whom has decades of experience in sound reinforcement (i.e., live audio for concerts), spent more than nine months fine-tuning the Riva S’s sound.

But the speaker’s secret sauce is ADX Trillium, the company’s patented and proprietary technology that creates a 300-degree sound field by distributing a stereo signal across the Riva’s three 40mm full-range drivers (one faces front and there’s one mounted on each end-cap). Riva claims that the Trillium design creates the psychoacoustic perception of a wider stereo sound stage and coherent timbral accuracy even as you move off-axis. To my ears, this is more than just marketing fluff; it’s just what I experienced.

The Riva’s Trillium configuration and four custom dual-piston radiators are anchored by an internal, three-channel, 30-watt, Class D amplifier. You can really crank it up.

Riva claims the speaker will deliver 13 hours of battery life if played at 70dB, but you’ll get only about five hours of play time at full volume. A handy battery indicator on the unit’s rear panel lights green if you’re good or red if you’re running low. Taking advantage of the unit’s handy USB charger to top off your mobile device will also result in a battery hit. An on/off switch on the back will help conserve battery life when you listening to music.

I’ve heard more than my fair share of run-of-the mill Bluetooth speakers, and the Riva S is anything but. Like many of its competitors, it supports Bluetooth SBC, AAC, and AptX audio codecs (the latter of which will give you near CD-quality sound when paired with an AptX-compatible source). And there’s a ubiquitous 3.5mm auxiliary input. But that’s where many of the similarities end.


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