These days, the wireless speaker market is so over-crowded with similar-looking (and sounding) speakers that it’s making it more and more difficult to differentiate between the myriad options at your disposal.
In some ways, this is nice. If you're just an average person looking for a speaker, you have more options for great sounding, weatherproof speakers than ever before. But, for manufacturers, it means you’ll have to perform at a very high level in order to get noticed or out-do the competition.
Unfortunately for the Braven Stryde 360, it just doesn’t fare well against the competition. Don’t get us wrong, the Stryde 360 is a solid weatherproof speaker but compared to the dozens of other, better-sounding speakers out there right now, we just can’t recommend it against the rest of the competition.
Said simply, this $99 (around £70, AU$130) speaker is a jack of all trades, but master of none.
The Braven Stryde 360 offers a cylindrical design that can be stood up like a soda can or laid down horizontally for more stability. Sound quality in both positions is the same so you don’t need to worry about prioritizing a position for optimal performance.
The chassis of the Stryde 360 is extremely rugged with a tough plastic and rubber construction. The yellow colored rings surrounding the woofers on our review unit are built to withstand drops and bumps.
Even though the speaker is made mostly of plastic, it offers IP67 water and dust resistance, which means you won’t have to worry about taking the speaker to the pool or outdoors. The speaker is also surprisingly light, making it easy to take with you in your bag without feeling like you’re being weighed down.
On top of the speaker you’ll find big buttons that make the speaker easy to operate, and there’s even a mic so you can use the Stryde 360 to make calls, which is a nice feature to have.
On the bottom of the speaker you’ll find a frustratingly difficult rubber flap which hides the microUSB charging port, 3.5mm aux jack, and USB-A port that pumps out 5V/1 amp to charge your smartphone in a pinch. The flap is so difficult to open because of the amount of force required to break the rubber seal, but also because the nub you’re supposed to grab is impossible to lift with your fingers. The speaker is great at keeping both water – and you – out at all costs.
Inside the Braven Stryde 360 is a 2,500 mAh battery, which will net you 12 hours of playback at moderate volume. This is average for the segment but it’s nice that you can use the Stryde 360 to top off your smartphone in a pinch.
Sound quality for the Braven Stryde 360 is good, but the speaker clearly lacks bass response, which is surprising for the size. (For reference, the UE Wonderboom offers slightly more bass and is a much more compact, weatherproof speaker.)
We were hoping the Stryde 360’s dual woofers would provide more bass response like the JBL Charge 3, but we were left disappointed by the anemic bass slam for music like EDM and rap.
What stands out about the Stryde 360’s sound quality are its mids: The speaker sounds good with voices, which sound full and warm. Highs, similarly, are good, but slightly become too bright at times. Bass, as we've mentioned, sounds uncontrolled and highs are piercing at 100% volume.
While the speaker gets quite loud for outdoor use, it also distorts at high volume.
If you decide to take a call while you're poolside, call quality is surprisingly good – especially so considering the fact that there aren't many weatherproof wireless speakers out there with built-in microphones.
Calls were clear and our friends and family reported hearing us just fine.
If there weren't dozens of other speakers offering the same specs at around the same price, the Braven Stryde 360 would be a good speaker: It does everything most people could want in an outdoor speaker and it sounds decent.
However, it’s too hard to recommend over the competition – we think the JBL Flip 4 sounds better and offers a better design for the same price, while for those looking for more bass can buy the JBL Charge 3 for slightly more money.
If you want a more compact speaker for ultimate portability, the UE Wonderboom is an ever better choice, punching above what its size would suggest, getting loud and offering decent bass response from such a compact speaker.
You won't go wrong buying the Stryde 360 … but it's well worth considering the dozens of better-sounding, more feature-rich speakers first.
- What do we recommend? Here's our shortlist of the best Bluetooth speakers