What we think
The Riva Turbo is a sleek, modern speaker with great sound. Although it is a good speaker which we enjoyed using, it comes with some superfluous gimmicks which weren’t really needed and which, I fear, boosted the price.
The Riva is a beautiful piece of tech. Getting it out the box, it felt weighty and was cold from being in the delivery van, both of which gave a first impression of a high quality speaker that was metallic and sleek in design, almost futuristic.
The speaker grill wraps around all four vertical planes of the cuboid device, with the controls on top and secure rubber feet on the bottom. Playing into the futuristic feel of the design, the controls are not buttons, but a row of circular divots that each contain a glowing LED icon. The icons are touch sensitive, which again, is sleek and futuristic, but the lack of haptic feedback sometimes left me pawing at the buttons several times, unsure if they’d worked, which left me looking very un-sleek.
The wire ports are hidden discretely round the back of the speaker, as is a toggle button to switch the speaker from battery mode to plugged in mode.
The speaker has a nifty proximity sensor which will light all the control LEDs up when you wave your hand in the vicinity above the speaker, which looks cool and is pretty useful in the dark.
The Riva Turbo X weighs in at roughly 1.5kg, and measures 23.1 x 10.4 x 8.9cm.
- Battery mode gives versatility
- Great sounding speaker
- Sleek design
- Powerful sound
- Unnecessary gimmicks
- Carry case comes separate
The Riva Turbo X has a built in battery that gives it some portability. You can charge up the Riva, and the battery will last over 16 hours from 100% charge, playing at a reasonable volume. The battery life can be really affected by how high the volume is cranked, reducing the battery life to below 6 hours at max volume.
However, the battery grants it some level of portability. It isn’t as portable as other Bluetooth speakers like the Jabra Solemate Mini, simply because it is large, and the drivers on it really add to the weight. You can, however, buy a case for an extra £30, but whether this is worth it is down to whether you are going to be lugging the speaker around with you a lot. If it is a truly portable speaker you want, I’d look elsewhere, but I love having a battery function on a speaker even within the home so I can move it around with ease.
The main feature of the speaker, the feature it is named after, is unfortunately also the most pointless one. The Turbo mode boosts the volume output of the speaker, letting you crank the sound a little bit higher. Having grown up with parents who loved the film This is Spinal Tap, as soon as I tried the Turbo feature, I was immediately reminded of the scene with the amplifier which turns up to eleven instead of the normal ten because “It’s one louder, isn’t it.” The similarity was even more striking when I realised that on the control app (see below), the Turbo feature literally increases the volume dial to include a setting at 11.
Whether this is a tongue-in-cheek throw back or not, the point still stands that it is a fairly useless feature. To me, it makes no sense to have a separate setting to crank the volume one higher when it could just go that loud in the first place. Granted, the Turbo mode drains the battery quicker, so having it off acts as a sort of battery saver in a way.
This battery-saving aspect could have saved the Turbo feature for me, if it wasn’t for the sound effects. When activating Turbo, the speaker revs up, literally playing a tinny sound effect of a car engine revving. This is painfully at odds with the otherwise sleek and cool design of the speaker which I love, and luckily you can turn the sound effect off through the app.
One of the divots on the top of the speaker contains a small “S”, which stands for “Surround”. The problem with a lot of small speakers is that the drivers are physically close together, and so the stereo is somewhat lacking. The Surround mode helps to widen the soundstage of the Riva Turbo X, using Riva’s ADX Trillium audio technology. The mode helps, but you can’t beat having two speakers working in tandem from separate locations in the room, or just headphones, for a proper stereo effect.
The speaker claims to be slightly waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about minor splashes, although you definitely shouldn’t go round dunking it in puddles. On the base, nestled between the red rubber feet, there is an extra strip of rubber which can be removed. The inside of this strip has rubber versions of the connectors on, which can plug up and protect the ports on the back of the speaker, making the speaker a bit more water resistant than it would be otherwise.
The Riva Turbo X sounds good. It has a well-balanced sound, one which doesn’t distort too much as you crank the volume; at least until you hit Turbo. This can distort the quality slightly, although at this volume, it isn’t good for easy listening and would only be used for a house party or for filling a large room anyway.
At full volume, with the Turbo mode off, the speaker supposedly reaches 75db, and Turbo can add on an extra 7db.
For a compact little speaker, I am quite impressed with the sound quality, although for the weight and heft of the device, I’m not surprised it sounds so good. When streaming via Bluetooth, the device makes use of AptX, which is supposed to increase the quality of audio, reducing any fuzz generated by the wireless connection.
The battery will keep the speaker going for a long while, at a moderate volume, but if you want to crank the sound up, you’ll want the charging wire on hand.
The Riva Turbo app is a free download which will let you control the device remotely with more precision than just through your general music app. You can activate both the Surround mode and the Turbo mode from the app, and adjust the volume, pause, and skip tracks.
However, I was disappointed to realise that the app doesn’t support use with Spotify, and you can only skip and change tracks when playing from your device’s default or native music player. This put me off the app quite a lot as I use Spotify almost exclusively, and so when using the Riva I forewent the app altogether and just used the Spotify widget to control the music. Hopefully this can be corrected with a future update.
Make no mistake, this is an expensive speaker, but it is a high quality one. Priced at £299 and available from HiFi Sound, it will leave a hole in your bank account. There are definitely cheaper portable alternatives on the market, many with quite good qualities themselves, but not so many look as good or sound as great as the Riva Turbo X.
The Riva Turbo X is a great sounding speaker with enough power and oomph that it could probably even service a house party. The Turbo gimmick is a bit odd, but it isn’t a deal breaker, it just seems fairly pointless.
The other features are more useful, and it is nice to see a portable speaker of this size, quality, and output. Although it isn’t as easy to carry around as a smaller, tougher speaker would be, the battery gives it a large amount of versatility which I love. Although it is a bit pricey, the higher price tag brings with it higher quality.