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RIVA Arena REVIEW: Is this the BEST wireless multiroom speaker on the market?

RIVA Arena REVIEW: Is this the BEST wireless multiroom speaker on the market?RIVA

RIVA Arena REVIEW: Is this the BEST wireless multiroom speaker on the market?

RIVA hasnt been around long, but its short life so far has already made a pretty big impact on the speaker market.

The Riva S gives the UE Boom a run for its money when it comes to portable Bluetooth speakers, and now the Riva Arena offers some pretty interesting competition to the Sonos range of speakers.

Its generally agreed upon that the Sonos Play:1 is the market leader when it comes to multiroom speakers… but the RIVA Arena has the potential to knock it off its perch.

From close range, the Arena is a speaker thatll make audiophiles swoon – the deep, satisfying bass response is unlike anything weve heard from a speaker of this size, and the fidelity of the speaker is practically flawless – no matter what youre casting to it.

RIVA offers a nice alternative to those that dont want to buy into a larger Sonos ecosystem, or who dont like the sound the speaker offers. We will say of the RIVA Arena that in smaller or slimmer rooms, it vastly outperforms the Sonos family.

The sound is loud. Super loud. Although the speaker performs well at low volumes, it really comes into its own the louder you get. Whats also impressive about the RIVA is that it manages to output its sound in stereo – most compact speakers down-sample to mono.

Riva Arena – COMPACT MULTI-ROOM SPEAKER

RIVA ARENA is the compact multi-space speaker in RIVAs WAND series that delivers Stereophonic Sound for an unrivaled audio experience and compliment to any modern lifestyle. Perfect for music enthusiasts craving a LIVE audio experience at home, office or outdoors with the optional battery pack (16+ hrs).

This means the way that the RIVA fills the space is incredible. We tested it in the living room of a thin but long living room in a terrace house, and a larger, more open kitchen space in a country house. With the right volume settings and positioning, the RIVA filled both spaces with sound wonderfully.

Because the speaker is so compact, the realisation of the stereo sound isnt massive, but it still makes a big difference compared to other speakers outputting a mono mix.

You can tell the RIVA is primarily designed to be controlled via your smartphone, because the controls on top of the speaker are a little laggy and aesthetically unpleasant. You can alter connection modes by holding down the skip track button, but sometimes it feels like it wont register your command, or take a while to glue to your input.

Response time to casts from your phone is impressive, though, and even using an aux input offers the same level of gorgeous sound you get from Bluetooth or casting.

Whilst we were testing the device, we took it to a country house in an area without signal or wifi. Lucky, the RIVA has an away mode that allows you to connect wirelessly to the speaker without having to have a parent WiFi connection to pair through.

This mesh wireless network offered the same results in terms of playback as anything connecting via a router – a lifesaver in situations where youre caught without an internet connection.

If you want to drop an extra £75 on the already fairly expensive speaker (roughly £225), you can nab yourself a battery pack that offers 20 hours of battery life away from a dedicated power supply. Thats pretty handy, too, considering the power lead the speaker ships with is really kind of short.

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You can tell the RIVA is primarily designed to be controlled via your smartphone, because the controls on top of the speaker are a little laggy and aesthetically unpleasant. You can alter connection modes by holding down the skip track button, but sometimes it feels like it wont register your command, or take a while to glue to your input.

Response time to casts from your phone is impressive, though, and even using an aux input offers the same level of gorgeous sound you get from Bluetooth or casting.

Whilst we were testing the device, we took it to a country house in an area without signal or wifi. Lucky, the RIVA has an away mode that allows you to connect wirelessly to the speaker without having to have a parent WiFi connection to pair through.

This mesh wireless network offered the same results in terms of playback as anything connecting via a router – a lifesaver in situations where youre caught without an internet connection.

If you want to drop an extra £75 on the already fairly expensive speaker (roughly £225), you can nab yourself a battery pack that offers 20 hours of battery life away from a dedicated power supply. Thats pretty handy, too, considering the power lead the speaker ships with is really kind of short.

Its unfortunate that iOS users have to download the RIVA Wand app to set up and use the device, but Android users can basically use any Google Cast functionality with the speaker to play music or sound from just about any source.

Pairing multiple speakers with Chromecast Audio gives you the capability to set up a hassle-free, multiroom speaker system – ideal for Android users.

And thats kind-of our summary from the RIVA, too: if you want a mid-range, Sonos-alternative speaker, and you use a mostly Android ecosystem, you cant go far wrong with the RIVA.

The sound quality is spectacular, the design is compact and unobtrusive in a home setting, and the functionality is superb. For anyone that doesnt want to buy into the whole Sonos brand, you really couldnt ask for a better alternative. Its just a shame the speaker costs a bit more than its rivals.

RIVA Arena VERDICT – 5/5

PROS

Incredible sound quality
Flexible connectivity
Away mode is a lifesaver

CONS

Pricey
Better suited to Android than iOS

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