GeekDad Review: Riva Turbo X Premium Bluetooth Speaker

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Tiva Turbo Bluetooth speaker
Riva Turbo X wireless speaker (photo by Brad Moon)

For the past few weeks I’ve been taking advantage of the extended summer weather, putting a Riva Turbo X Premium Bluetooth Speaker through its paces — and probably annoying my neighbors in the process. It may not be the most compact wireless speaker out there and it’s certainly not the cheapest, but the Turbo X is definitely among the best I’ve tried. Besides great sound, I’ve never tested a speaker that has the cord-free stamina of this one.

Key Technical Specs:

  • Three 60 mm, full range custom ADX drivers, four ADX custom dual piston bass radiators
  • 45 watt RMS amplifier
  • Capacitative Touch controls with proximity sensing
  • Microphone with noise & echo cancellation for use as speakerphone
  • Bluetooth (support for SBC, AAC and aptX codes)
  • 3.5 mm Aux input (cables included)
  • ADX Trillium surround sound, Turbo boost mode
  • Full-sized USB out port for recharging devices
  • Built-in battery rated at 26+ hours (power adapter included)
  • 9.1 x 3.5 x 4.1-inches, weighs 3.0 lbs
  • Free Riva Ground Control app for iOS and Android
  • Includes splash resistant I/O cover

So far as wireless speakers go, the Riva Turbo X  is a little on the large side and definitely heavier than most. However, this is an attractive looking device (mine was finished in glossy white with a silver speaker grill and there is an all-black option) and it doesn’t take long to appreciate the extra heft.

Image copyright Riva
Inside the Turbo X. (image copyright Riva)

The size means a trio of full-range drivers and four bass radiators can be housed within and they’re powered by a 45 watt amplifier. The sound is balanced, with authoritative bass and a sense of depth that smaller speakers can’t pull off. It’s still not up to the effect of actually having two cabinets a distance apart, but it’s better than most. Engage the Turbo X’s proprietary Trillium Surround Sound mode and all those speakers with 300 degree coverage mean you can use it as a sound bar for watching video or gaming. Vinyl aficionados will appreciate the Phono Mode that increases the gain on the Aux input so you can plug in a turntable.

Turbo mode goes to 11
Riva Turbo X Bluetooth speaker with Ground Control app (photo by Brad Moon)

If you want a little more “oomph,” the Turbo mode boosts music up to 100 dB. On the Ground Control app, the volume dial actually hits 11 when you do so. I always appreciate a Spinal Tap reference… Turbo mode eats battery power, but when you want to make a musical statement, this is a pretty effective way of doing so.

Also part of that size is what has to be a ginormous battery. As in rated at 26+ hours of music played at 75 dB. Here’s the schedule I followed during the time it took me to effectively wear that battery down to zero.

I started off with three hours of playing music at 50 percent volume as recommended by Riva to break in the speakers. After, I took it upstairs and cranked up the volume (impressive), then hit Turbo mode. Things got really loud, but the speaker doesn’t just arbitrarily blast across all frequencies — there’s some clever EQ shifting going on in the background to get maximum volume without distortion.

Huge battery will recharge an iPad
Riva Turbo X recharges your gear

From there, it was a week and a half of taking it in the back yard for an hour here, two hours there. Yesterday, I checked the battery level (the app gives you a percent and there’s also a red/green LED battery indicator on the speaker itself) and it was still at 68 percent. So I plugged in my iPad Mini (which had a 30 percent charge) and used the Riva’s re-charging capability to get the iPad’s battery back to 100 percent. That took about three hours. That done, I took the Riva outside to play music for an hour an a half while I was grilling. Today, I’ve played music at maximum volume for a few minutes, then tried out the Turbo boost again.

The Turbo X still has a 4 percent charge in its battery. I gave up and plugged it in, reaching full charge in about three hours. This thing is an absolute champ when it comes to battery life.

The Ground Control app gives you basic music control functionality, access to the Trillium surround sound and Turbo boost modes, shows the battery level and lets you switch between voice and tone audio prompts. When not using the app, a series of capacitive buttons on top of the speaker control key functions. They are backlit by blue LEDs and use proximity sensing to “wake” when you wave your hand near the speaker.

A splash resistant I/O cover is provided. When needed, it covers the input ports to protect from water and when not needed, it cleverly attached to the bottom of the speaker. You won’t lose it and it doesn’t get in the way when not needed. Riva also included an optional Turbo X Tavel Bag. It costs an additional $29.00, but is very well constructed with a heavy duty nylon exterior, lots of padding, a zippered pocket and velvet-lined interior. Given the size and cost of the Turbo X, the carrying case is probably a worthwhile investment, especially if you plan on taking it with you.

So long as you don’t mind a speaker that’s a little larger and heavier than most portables, there’s a lot to like about the Riva Turbo X. It has excellent sound (with the ability to reach impressive volume), effective surround-sound capability and epic battery life.

The Turbo X Premium Bluetooth Speaker is available in black or white for $349.99 from Riva, or you can but it through Amazon.

Disclosure: Riva provided a Turbo X Premium Bluetooth Speaker for the purposes of this review.

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