Pros / This speaker has a wide and detailed sound stage.
Cons / The setup process is frustrating.
Verdict / The Riva Arena has great connectivity options and was one of the best performers in our listening tests.
Riva is not the most recognizable name in the wireless speaker industry, but the audio quality and connectivity options in the Riva Arena warrant serious consideration. The compact and durable enclosure houses three amplified speakers and three passive radiators with a distinctly wide stereo image in our listening tests. There is a speaker and radiator on the front and both side panels of the enclosure. Connect to your mobile device’s music library or streaming services through a Wi-Fi connection, aux input or Bluetooth connection. You also have the option to stream music via AirPlay on Apple devices or with the built-in Google Chromecast. This speaker has the most comprehensive connectivity options of the products we reviewed.
This is the only Wi-Fi speaker we tested with an optional battery pack. The other portable wireless speakers we reviewed only play wireless content over a Bluetooth connection, which doesn’t offer the fidelity of a Wi-Fi connection. The optional battery pack costs an extra $80, but it allows you to take your wireless speaker out to the back deck or to other places without access to a wall socket. The battery powers the Arena for up to 20 hours on a single charge.
The Riva Wand app has some good control options, but you can’t use it to connect the speaker to your wireless network like the user-friendly companion apps we tested from companies like Sonos and Bang & Olufsen. We suggest using the Google Assistant app instead to connect this speaker to your wireless network and other smart home devices because the Airplay setup is frustrating. The Arena is voice-controlled from any smart speaker with a Google Assistant. Voice control lets you switch between streaming services, control the volume and skip songs without touching your mobile device. The Riva Wand app has volume controls along with listening mode presets and input device selection.
We played a variety of musical genres for a listening panel and asked them to rate each speaker for bass response, vocal clarity, treble clarity and overall sound quality. The Riva Arena was one of the best performers in this test. The Arena scored high marks for vocal clarity and was above average for treble clarity. If you enjoy listening to music with acoustic instruments and strong vocal presence, this is a great speaker. The bass response is lacking compared to the best we tested but is proportionate to the midrange and treble output.
The Riva Arena has great connectivity options and an impressively wide stereo image. The optional battery pack makes it an expensive portable speaker, but the sound quality is better than all the other portable speakers we tested. Don’t overlook this wireless speaker just because you haven’t heard of Riva.