In the test: RIVA Turbo X - mobile high-end Bluetooth speaker for audiophiles

Packshot: This is what the packaging of the RIVA Turbo X looks like.

Do you know RIVA Audio? To be honest, I didn't know the manufacturer until a few weeks ago. A press release came in reporting on the RIVA Turbo X "Premium Bluetooth Speaker". Well, press releases are a nice thing, but I like to write about things that I have tried out. So I ordered the speaker (model name RTX01B-UN) and read a bit about the company "RIVA Audio" until it was delivered.

Packshot: This is what the packaging of the RIVA Turbo X looks like.
Packshot: This is what the packaging of the RIVA Turbo X looks like. Noble and timeless in design - like the RIVA Bluetooth speaker itself (photos: Sir Apfelot).

RIVA Audio: loudspeakers with high standards

Before you buy a RIVA speaker, you should know that RIVA is committed to “clear sound”. RIVA's founder, Rikki Farr, has over 45 years of experience in audio and has worked alongside engineers and designers to create speakers that reproduce music as it was originally made.

It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that most Bluetooth speakers these days battle for bass supremacy, while losing out on “clean” sound with balanced highs, mids and lows. RIVA takes a different approach here and, with the Turbo X, offers a Bluetooth speaker that offers a genuine sound. But more on that later.

Mobile Bluetooth speaker in a timeless design - the RIVA Turbo X.
Mobile Bluetooth loudspeaker in a timeless design - the RIVA Turbo X. Black always fits and the RIVA Turbo X does without frills and daring design - from my point of view, a good choice!

Design and processing of the RIVA Turbo X

The technical data of the Turbo X are impressive: 45 watts of music power, 26 hours of battery life and a volume of up to 100 dB in turbo mode - quite a lot for a Zwerk with a length of only 23 cm.

But let's take a look at the optics first: The design of the RIVA Turbo X is very beautiful. It's a rectangular, black box with a metal grille all around, while the top has a piano lacquer look - it goes exceptionally well with the new iPhone 7 in diamond black. ;-)

In comparison: the BOSE Soundlink Mini II on the left and the RIVA Turbo X on the right.
In comparison: the BOSE Soundlink Mini II on the left and the RIVA Turbo X on the right. The speakers differ fundamentally not only in terms of battery performance and size, but also in terms of bass reproduction.

On the top are the control buttons, which are also black and have blue lighting. The buttons are touch-sensitive and react to the touch of a finger. On the back there is the audio input (AUX), a USB output for charging the iPhone, a USB data input (for firmware updates), a charging input and a switch for the battery on / off. Also a rudimentary battery indicator that only knows the three states red, orange and green.

Two power-on buttons ??? Ah!

At first I found the mechanical on / off button confusing, because there is also a touch-sensitive power button on the top of the speaker. What at first seems a little pointless has a legitimate reason if you read the instructions: If you constantly operate the loudspeaker on the charging cable, you should switch off the battery, because this constant state of full charge is not good for any battery.

The mechanical battery switch on the RIVA Turbo X looks a bit antiquated, but conserves the battery. Since there is often confusion, RIVA has already provided a sticker to determine what needs to be done when charging.
The mechanical battery switch on the RIVA Turbo X looks a bit antiquated, but conserves the battery. Since there is often confusion, RIVA has already provided a sticker to determine what needs to be done when charging.

So if you want to use it to protect the battery, you should half-discharge the battery and then switch the switch to “BATT Off”. The battery is then “disconnected” and the loudspeaker only works via mains operation. Lithium-ion batteries have a long service life if they are "stored" half-charged and not kept fully charged all the time. No other manufacturer (as far as I know) has thought about this - RIVA Audio obviously has.

Control elements of the RIVA Turbo X

If you look at the top with the buttons, you can see some illuminated in blue, while others are dark. To see all the symbols, all you need to do is tap the black top, which is also touch-sensitive. After a touch, all buttons are illuminated for a few seconds:

The buttons on the top of the RIVA Turbo X are touch-sensitive.
The buttons on the top of the RIVA Turbo X are touch-sensitive - as is the completely black top, which activates the button lighting when touched.

But let's go through the buttons one by one:

  1. Switching on and off - is clear, right ?! ;)
  2. “S” – Surround Sound: RIVA advertises a virtual surround sound here, which is supposed to provide a kind of 3D sound through the drivers attached to the side of the device. I couldn't hear any difference in the test... but that's not bad - I don't need such bells and whistles anyway.
  3. “Bluetooth” – here you can put the speaker into pairing mode and you can see if a device is paired.
  4. “Mute” – mutes the speaker. Helpful when you're on a phone call or don't want to play music for other reasons. Unfortunately, only a "silent" is the result here and no pausing of the music playback.
  5. “-” – decrease volume.
  6. “+” – Increase volume.
  7. “T” – Turbo Mode: With this you can increase the volume and get up to about 100 dB.

In addition to the illuminated controls, a female voice also ensures pleasant operation. This provides information about the low battery level, the status of the Bluetooth pairing or about switching surround and turbo mode on and off. If the “chatter” gets on your nerves, you can easily use the App switch from RIVA to “sound notifications”.

Mechanical buttons vs. touch controls

Otherwise, I'm not a big fan of touch-sensitive keys in general. I lack the haptic feedback and due to dry skin, the buttons on various devices often seem to ignore my operation, so that not every press of a button leads to a reaction on the part of the speaker.

Impressively clear and balanced: the sound of the RIVA Turbo X

First of all, the RIVA loudspeaker must definitely have very good sound properties. This is no wonder, because a total of 7 drivers (3 active speakers and 4 passive radiators) are built into the small music box, and the Turbo X supports the audio codecs SBC, AAC (uses the iPhone) and aptX (music enthusiasts will know this! ). If you read the Reviews on Amazon, one is still surprised about my positive assessment, because there one often reads “The loudspeaker has no bass!” and similar. Sure: Anyone who likes listening to bass-heavy music and has their focus on boom-boom is wrong with RIVA - that's why the RIVA doesn't come to mine List of bluetooth speakers with a lot of bass.

You don't have the "thumping" bass like other speakers from Bose or UE. Nevertheless, the RIVA Turbo X definitely has no weaknesses in this area. The bass is simply "drier" and less pronounced than with other speakers - which often have far too much bass content. And while the Turbo X may lose listeners to the competition when it comes to R&B and hip-hop, it knows how to score points when it comes to classical, jazz and pop music!

Stickers on the RIVA Turbo X - import slowly at first
The QuickStart sticker on the RIVA Turbo X provides instructions on pairing and recommends playing the loudspeaker for 3 hours at 50% volume so that the loudspeakers can break in.

The fact that RIVA placed great value on a balanced and good sound when it comes to audio playback can also be seen from the fact that the "Turbo" feature is not only impressive on paper. In the test, I turned the speaker all the way up and also pressed the turbo button. I'm sure I've gotten to 100 dB. The sound is easily enough for a room with an area of ​​40-50 square meters. And despite the high volume, there was no rattling and no distortion in the sound - extremely rare in the category of small Bluetooth speakers.

Musical power bank: 26 hours of battery life

The enormous battery life of at least 26 hours that RIVA promises is also not an empty promise. If you hold the loudspeaker in your hands, you also notice that the small box weighs just under 1,5 kg, probably due to a thick battery. The advantage of the large battery: you can use the USB port on the back of the RIVA Box and the appropriate iPhone charging cable also charge his mobile phone or tablet. I have not yet tested a more musical power bank. ;-)

I didn't check the 26-hour battery life exactly, but I fully charged the Turbo X and then - despite listening to music for several hours a day - it was in operation for a good 2 to 3 weeks without recharging. I think the information is okay ...

RIVA Ground Control - the app for the loudspeaker

Operation of the Bluetooth loudspeaker via the RIVA Ground Control app
Operation of the Bluetooth loudspeaker via the RIVA Ground Control app

The companion app for iPad and iPhone from RIVA is called “RIVA Ground Control”. It gives access to some controls. Starting with the large rotary wheel for the volume control to the battery display with percentage accuracy and the surround and turbo switch, you will find all the important controls and information here. The option to skip a song forward or backward or to pause playback is also built in here. Personally, I don't use the app much, but rather use the buttons on the RIVA Turbo X.

Outdoor use? - better just with the bag ...

If you want to get the Turbo X for sound reinforcement in the garden, at the pool or on the beach, you should get it right away Transport bag made of nylon order at the same time. The loudspeaker itself is a bit prone to scratches due to the high-gloss plastic and is also not splash-proof. The inside of the bag is lined with velvet and the additional filling between the inside and outside offers a lot of protection against bumps. There is also space for cables and other accessories in an additional outer compartment.

My conclusion on the RIVA Turbo X

On the one hand, I am enthusiastic about the look and the design as well as the battery life. For me, the sound is also an aspect that clearly speaks in favor of the Turbo X, because regardless of whether it is an audio book, classical music, jazz or pop: the RIVA loudspeaker reproduces everything very clearly. With some other speakers, the bass is so dominant that you can hardly understand audio books if the speaker already has a sonorous voice - with the RIVA Turbo X none of this is a problem.

The "fly in the ointment" for me, however, is the missing play/pause button on the speaker itself. Unfortunately, I like to use Bluetooth speakers in such a way that I quickly stop and start playback on the speaker itself for a short time. With the Turbo X, however, there is no button for this control on the speaker. You always have to take the detour via the iPhone, which I think is a shame. For a 300 EUR speaker, this is a serious point of criticism for me, because for the price you want a “perfect” device.

If you don't need the play / pause button due to your habits and prefer a clear, balanced sound for your music, the RIVA Turbo X is an excellent, mobile Bluetooth speaker with an extremely long battery life.

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