RIVA CONCERT Wireless Speaker: A Full Review

Manufacturer & Model
RIVA Audio Concert
MSRP
$199 (Speaker) $79 (Battery Pack)
Link
https://rivaaudio.com/riva-concert/
Highlights
Multi-directional driver design throws an impressively broad soundstage, overall physical appearance is attractive and room friendly, excellent build quality, voice control with Amazon Alex and Spotify Connect, simple home integration, optional battery provides 15 hours of playback.
Summary
RIVA Audio’s newest speaker is an excellent Wi-Fi performer. Designed to play alone or part of a whole-home audio system, Concert carries a plethora of supporting technologies that make playback simple and convenient. Overall sound quality is super impressive for such a small package.
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RIVA Audio originally shipped a Concert review sample to my office during the speaker’s pre-launch period in late 2018 – yes, practically ages ago. And while quite a bit of time has passed, the speaker hasn’t remained packaged and huddled with other gear waiting for review. Far from it. In fact, it was quickly unboxed, thrown into duty, and has remained a steadfast source of entertainment. Time has been a limiting factor for getting this review live, but here we stand, ready to give Concert its much deserved moment in the spotlight.

Interestingly, such a lengthy review period has given me the ability to live with RIVA’s latest wireless audio creation, transcending a cursory “yeah, it works!” evaluation with actual “day-in, day-out” real-life tests. In the process, the speaker has undergone multiple firmware updates to fix early bugs, entertained me during extended workdays, served as outdoor entertainment for large gatherings, and followed family get togethers from room to room. And while Concert has already harvested quite a bit of praise from various media outlets, our review will give you an added nugget that you likely won’t find elsewhere: a snapshot of measured in-room performance.


A Crowded Price Point
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RIVA Concert ($199) is part of a scorching-hot category of $200-and-less wireless audio products. And if you’ve been researching speakers in the segment, you’re undoubtedly familiar with its most notable competition: the Sonos One. Of course, there’s an endless list of other models (many of which cost less), so the question becomes: why is Concert worthy of your attention?

Unlike generic brand X, Concert is designed and manufactured by a bona fide audio company. If you’re simply looking for a cheap no-frills audio experience, that statement likely won’t matter. But if you want to hear something special from your Wi-Fi speaker, then definitely take notice. Rikki Farr (RIVA’s founding officer), you see , has spent his life wading through the world of music, heralded for his work in concert promotion and music production. Much like the team that surrounds him, audio and a love of music has played a major role in his life and RIVA was formed to funnel that experience into great sounding wireless products.

Beyond the company behind it, Concert is one of two speakers in RIVA’s all-new Voice Series. The other (RIVA Stadium, $449) is a larger model that costs more than twice as much. Both speakers offer Amazon Alexa voice control, are designed to be used independently or as part of a whole-home multiroom music system, and feature RIVA’s unique Trillium audio technology. So, while Concert can certainly be used as a standalone speaker, it can also be a piece of a larger smart-home audio system.


A Pleaser Right Out of the Box
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RIVA supplied two items for this review: a single Concert speaker and an add-on 15-hour battery (RIVA Arena Battery Pack, $79). For those of you looking for a glamourous unboxing experience, you’ll only find RIVA’s choice in packaging to be functionally sufficient (click on the video below to watch Concert get unboxed). But once your hands touch the speaker, the game changes as a sense of quality and stature is immediately conveyed.


As it sits, Concert is roughly the size of a large pineapple minus the crown (5” W x 4.8” D x 7” H), weighing a svelte 3 lbs. The battery pack (recommended for at least one RIVA Concert in your home) quickly affixes to the speaker’s base, adding roughly 1.2” of height and about 10 oz of weight. So, once assembled, it stands about 8” tall and weighs just shy of 4 lbs. The speaker can easily fit on the corner of a desk, a counter top, or a standard height bookshelf. And when you’re on the go, it’s small enough (and light enough) to just grab and carry or toss into a bag.

As I eluded, touching the speaker reveals quite a bit of quality, but a visual inspection really allows the speaker’s well thought-out details to shine. Its top and bottom are capped with rigid molded plastic and eased edges dressed in an attractive matte black finish (white is also available), with the top sporting a soft-touch button cluster designed for operation in the blind. The driver array is protected by an attractive metal mesh grill, terminating to a backside that carries a single threaded wall-mount receiver, USB and 3.5mm auxiliary inputs, power connectivity, and an operational selector switch. Rounding out the package are two color changing LED lights (one appears as a ring, nestled within the top-side control cluster, while the other illuminates the speaker’s front mounted “RIVA” badge).

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We found the optional battery pack played roughly 15 hours on one charge

The entire package (both speaker and battery) is completed by low-profile rubber feet that keep the speaker in place and sufficiently isolate it from a surface. And for those of you that might take Concert near water, it’s worth mentioning the speaker is splash resistant.


Tech Behind the Sound
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(RIVA Audio) A look at Concert's ADX driver array

RIVA’s engineers have packed a lot into Concert, headlined by the company’s patented Trillium Audio Technology. Trillium is a three-sided speaker array comprised of single driver/passive radiator pairings (or ADX drivers) mounted on the left, front, and right sides of the speaker. These drivers are married to a 50 watt internal amplifier and an onboard processor that takes an incoming stereo signal and divides it among the drivers to create the illusion of true stereo sound. The resulting audio dwarfs the speaker’s size, while also remaining clear in off-axis listening positions with a reasonable hint of stereo presence – amazingly cool for such a small speaker.

Concert’s versatility allows for playback of 24-bit/192 kHz audio with support for MP3, ALAC, APE, FLAC, FLAC HD, HLS, WMA Streaming, RTSP, and PCM/WAV audio codecs. There are multiple ways to feed the speaker your favorite tunes, including Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay (AirPlay 2 compatibility is expected soon), Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, Amazon Music, a USB memory stick, a mini-stereo hardline connection, and DLNA. And while playback can be managed through physical and app-based controls, users can also use their voice with the free RIVA Voice app, Amazon Alexa, and Spotify Connect.

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An in-room measurement of output shows usable bass down to 50Hz

RIVA readily publishes a healthy list of speaker specifications, but you’ll have to dig quite deep to find note of its measured frequency response (specified at 50Hz – 20kHz). I ran several informal frequency sweeps in my office (a room that’s roughly 1,500ft3) and found the speaker is, in fact, capable of issuing bass down into the 50Hz range with bass settings maximized (a bass setting of 5 in the RIVA Voice app’s system control). Of course, perceived bass performance is boosted when the speaker is placed in a corner or on a shelf.


Set Up
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The RIVA Voice app makes set up and integration easy and fast

One of my favorite ways to kick off a product review is through a blind set up, jumping directly into the fire to test intuitiveness and ease of use. RIVA has made this approach nearly do-able for tech-savvy folks, aided by a Quick Start Guide that details three simple steps to music playback: feed the speaker power, download the RIVA Voice app (Android/Apple), and follow the app’s Setup Wizard. Sounds simple, right? Well, it is. I was able to have the speaker up and running in a matter of minutes.

No fuss. No fooling around with frustrating menu options. Just a quick and straightforward integration process that mirrors what you’d expect from any quality Wi-Fi smart-home product.

RIVA’s Voice app receives high marks for its design and usability. Beyond set up, it’s easy to switch between source inputs, control playback, customize the speaker’s sound, and link your speaker to Spotify and Amazon Music. Ultimately, though, your voice (if you choose) is the speaker’s most dominant control feature. But if voice control simply screams privacy concerns, physical and app controls are certainly there for use (you can even mute the speaker’s ability to hear you with the press of one button).


The Sound
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RIVA Concert certainly looks the part and is packaged with an excellent user interface, but its sound is where the speaker really shines. Much of the sound experience is due to RIVA’s trillium speaker array. As compared to similarly sized mono Wi-Fi speakers (and even some that have a small-scale front firing stereo configuration), RIVA’s three-sided driver design throws a soundstage that’s wide and full of vibrant life. And while it doesn’t exactly mimic that of a true stereo setup, its audio presentation far outweighs the speaker’s size.

One of Concert’s better attributes is a rather smooth and detailed upper-end that artfully escapes the trap of being overly bright and fatiguing, blending seamlessly with a controlled and present low-end. This balance of sound remains true as the speaker is taken to its loudest volume levels (which, when measured at roughly 4 feet from the speaker, typically fluctuates between 90-95dB). And, impressively, the speaker’s bass output doesn’t peter out when pushed to loud levels.

Concert issues excellent performance, without bias, across all genres of music. Be it “Take It Easy” by the Eagles, “Different Days” by Jason Isbell, “Fast Car” by Jonas Blue, “Feelin’ the Same Way” by Norah Jones, or “Sweet Disposition (RAC Mix)” by RAC, the speaker is able command an audio show that’s consistently of high quality. That kind of performance holds true in average to slightly large rooms… even extending to playback in outdoor spaces. In fact, I asked Concert to play musical host at a large outdoor gathering and its Trillium speaker array allowed tunes to be clear and audible in multiple directions.

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App control – if desired – makes for straightforward playback of favorite tunes

In terms of source and sound quality, despite having the ability to playback 24/192 audio tracks, my ears had a difficult time discerning notable differences between the same tracks played from different sources. That alone, however, isn’t alarming, because it allowed me to feel comfortable sticking with voice controlled playback through Amazon Music and Spotify.

Overall, my complaints about the speaker are limited to some early bugs (which have been addressed by firmware updates) and a rather cumbersome On/Off procedure. Now, I recognize that most owners will likely leave their Concert speaker On to take full advantage of its instantaneous voice control features. However, I have a soft-spot when it comes to the Earth and power consumption, typically preferring to shut my gear Off when not in use. Unfortunately, the shutdown procedure requires the mute button to be physically depressed for 15 seconds, which can feel like minutes if you’re in a hurry.


Conclusion
RIVA’s Concert speaker is a home run on multiple fronts. It’s attractive and easy to place. It’s well built. It carries a boatload of convenience technologies. It offers an accessory for long lasting battery powered playback. And it sounds fantastic. Add to that the possibility for whole-home multi-room audio, and you have a potent audio package.

To put it quite simply: RIVA’s Concert is one Wi-Fi speaker that’s become a permanent fixture in my daily routine. If you're searching for a great sounding compact Wi-Fi speaker, Concert is highly recommended.

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RIVA Concert Specifications
  • Speakers: Three unique ADX™ drivers, three passive radiators that reproduce more of the musical spectrum than any comparable product.
  • Freqency Response: 50 Hz to 20,000 Hz
  • Amplifier Power: 50 Watts
  • Remote Control App: Yes, RIVA Voice App for iOS and Android™.
  • Dimensions: 5 in (127 mm) x 4.87 in (123.8 mm) x 7 in (180 mm)
  • Weight: 3.0 lbs (1.36 kgs)
  • Bluetooth Range: 33 ft.
  • Audio Codecs: MP3, ALAC, APE, FLAC, FLAC HD, HLS, WMA Streaming, RTSP, and PCM/WAV
  • Hi-Res Audio: Supports up to 24-bit / 192 kHz.
  • Sound Technology: ADX Trillium™
  • Optional Battery Life: With optional battery 15 hours at 75 dB (playing time varies with listening levels).
 
Last edited:

Todd Anderson

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Just to note, a Twitter follower asked about the possibility of AirPlay 2 being released as a firmware update. According to RIVA, this feature is in fact in the works and is under testing now.
 

tesseract

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Sounds like a cool, all-in-one desk job. Thanks, Todd!
 

Tom L.

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Just to note, a Twitter follower asked about the possibility of AirPlay 2 being released as a firmware update. According to RIVA, this feature is in fact in the works and is under testing now.
Nicely done! I’ve been looking at the Apple HomePod but was put off by its price. This looks like a much more affordable contender!

Thanks Todd!
 

Todd Anderson

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I believe these are on sale at the moment for $179. So, for just a tad over $200, you can get a speaker and a battery. I think that's very reasonable for what it delivers.
 

tripplej

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Thanks for the very detailed review. Very nicely done. :)
 

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Thanks Todd! Resembles a Sonos One on steroids. I'm definitely checking this one out. I really like the high quality audio w/ Alexa given the Echo audio is sub par. Intercom is a big thing for my household that I've been working on given I ripped out the old Nutone during our whole house remodel a few years back.

I love to see all these options but on the flip side it makes things difficult for us consumers not to mention our bank accounts! We are in a very rapidly changing time as far as audio with "smart home" integration. I went all in with Sonos a few years back and now I need to replace it. LOL Wait until the wife hears this :hide:
 

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@jdubs75

I hear you... on every front. One of the biggest problems with these connected devices is lack of universal integration. They are close on some fronts (for example, many carry Apple AirPlay or AirPlay 2)... but not close enough to buy and just toss into one large system.

What I like about this Concert speaker is competent sound in a super-room friendly (and lifestyle friendly) package. It's small. Which is great for its designed purpose. And the fact that you can pick it up and take it with you is a huge bonus. And that's where its multi-directional driver array shows its strength. For example, I took it outside for some cornhole with some friends. I was able to sit the speaker off to the side and it did a great job of showering a wide area with sound.

One thing I didn't note in the review is the speaker has several output settings. There's Trillium, which is its default playback mode. Secondarily there's "Power" which is said to "Maximize Output and turn it up to 11! Ideal for large areas or outdoors." There's also the ability to designate as a Left or Right channel (which I don't believe has been instituted as of yet).

I trialed the Power setting and felt the speaker lost it's balanced tone. And when measuring the speaker in that mode, it looks like lower bass is only boosted by a handful of dB. So, for me, I say leave it in Trillium.
 

Todd Anderson

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Emotiva XPA Gen 2 4xStereo 2XSingle
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VSX-1016THX
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
OPPO UDP-203
Front Speakers
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SVS Ultra Center
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SVS Ultra Surround
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SVS Ultra Bookshelf
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SVS Prime Elevation
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Just an update: this speaker has continued to get a lot of use around my home. It is such a smooth and richly textured operator. Those of you looking for something in this segment... definitely give RIVA a good look. And do yourself a favor: spend the extra few bucks and get a battery. It bumps the speaker's usability and utility enough that it's worth the coin.
 

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