Riva Audio Arena review: Take the show on the road

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The Good The Riva Arena is the first truly portable Chromecast built-in speaker. It offers decent sound quality and a number of useful features, including device charging, splash-proofing and direct Wi-Fi connectivity.

The Bad The battery pack costs $100 extra. The speaker can sound a little boxy and unfocused at times. The Sonos Play:1 and the cheaper Denon Heos 1 both sound better.

The Bottom Line The Riva Arena is a likable Chromecast speaker with a portable option, but its not quite as sophisticated as its rivals.

7.7 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 10
  • Sound 7
  • Value 6

Bluetooth speakers are ubiquitous and cheap, but Wi-Fi speakers are generally better, with improved sound quality, range and stability. In addition to being more expensive than Bluetooth, one of the main reasons Wi-Fi still hasn't cracked the mainstream is a lack of battery-powered portability. Speakers like the Riva Arena are designed to address this.

At $249/£225/AU$369, the Riva Arena offers the combination of a direct Wi-Fi connection to your phone and a portable battery when you're out of the home. It has a glut of connection options for playing music from your phone, including our favorite Wi-Fi ecosystem: Chromecast built-in. And yes, there's Bluetooth if you need it.

Competitors Sonos and Denon sound better, but you can't take them on the road. Right now if you want a portable Chromecast speaker, the Riva Arena is your best (and only) option.

Riva Audio Arena
Sarah Tew/CNET

Design-wise, the Riva Arena is two parts Sonos Play:1 and one part MP3 player. It's a 4-by-7-inch rectangular cuboid which comes in a choice of either white or black. It's larger and more solid feeling than the Sonos at 3 pounds (1.4kg) On the top of the unit is your control panel, which offers playback controls, volume and input selection (with a long press).

The splash-proof speaker is driven by a 50-watt amplifier which feeds three ADX drivers complemented by passive bass drivers. For a broader sound stage drivers are located in three of the four sides. There's no "sub" as such, but the accompanying Riva Wand app allows you to adjust the EQ.

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