Cavalier Audio Maverick wi-fi sensible speaker overview: This Alexa-powered Wi-Fi speaker speaks Bluetooth, too

Moveable Bluetooth audio system are available in all shapes, sizes, finishes, and value factors. As well as, they provide a variety of options and capabilities, to not point out totally different ranges of sound high quality.

The Cavalier Audio Maverick sits towards the excessive finish of the worth scale, and it provides a reasonably intensive set of options together with some luxurious finishes. However what about sound high quality? Is it definitely worth the excessive price?

Options

The roughly cylindrical Cavalier Maverick stands tall, measuring 8.79 x 2.96 inches (top x diameter) and weighing in at 1.76 kilos. It comes with a charging base that occupies a round footprint with a diameter of three.7 inches. To cost the 2600 mAh battery, merely place the speaker within the charging base that you just hook up with an AC outlet from its USB-C port. Alternatively, you may cost the battery by connecting the USB-C port on the speaker itself to an AC outlet with the suitable cable and adaptor (included).

Cavalier Audio

The Maverick’s driver complement contains two opposing lively drivers close to the bottom and two opposing passive radiators above them.

As soon as it’s absolutely charged after about two and a half hours, the battery offers as much as 9 hours or extra of operational time. Remember, nonetheless, that features idle time if the speaker is linked to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. In that case, it by no means goes into standby mode, so it’s all the time prepared for Alexa voice instructions. At most quantity with steady music playback, the battery life is alleged to be lower than 4 hours.

Two lively 1.6-inch drivers face in reverse instructions to provide a stereo soundfield; every driver is powered by 10 watts from the built-in amplifier. Additionally, a 1.5 x 2.2-inch passive radiator sits instantly above every lively driver to reinforce the bass response from the in any other case sealed enclosure. The overall frequency response is specified from 61Hz to 20kHz (±2dB) with a most sound strain degree of 90 dBC. At most output, the THD is spec’d at 1 %.

The Maverick accepts audio by way of Bluetooth 4.2 from any suitable Bluetooth system; supported profiles embody A2DP, HFP, and AVRCP. It doesn’t help the aptX codec. As well as, it could actually be part of a Wi-Fi community (802.11b/g, 2.4GHz) to stream audio content material instantly from Amazon Music, Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, Audible, iHeartRadio, and SiriusXM. The Maverick can not, nonetheless, stream audio from native servers in your Wi-Fi community. Additionally, it doesn’t help multi-room functions, nor can two audio system be wirelessly linked as a stereo pair.

cavalier maverick multifunction Cavalier Audio

The so-called Good Button is surrounded by a rotary quantity management on the highest of the unit. A row of 5 LEDs in entrance of the button point out the quantity, mute standing, and when Alexa is listening.

One vital function is help for Amazon Alexa voice management. This allows you to converse instructions to start out and pause playback, change the quantity, skip tracks, and management different primary playback capabilities from a web-based streaming service. Sadly, you may’t management playback from a supply system’s native library utilizing Alexa. On the plus aspect, you may also ask Alexa in regards to the climate and different frequent questions, and you may management sensible residence units in case you have a sensible residence hub. The built-in microphone can discern voice instructions even from far-off.

Like most transportable audio system, the Maverick can function a speakerphone when linked to a smartphone by way of Bluetooth. Calls are clear because of built-in echo and noise cancellation. A devoted mute management assures privateness when wanted, and standing LEDs clearly point out when the speaker is in privateness mode.

The construct high quality is top-notch. An aluminum chassis is roofed with high-quality acoustic cloth and premium real leather-based. Even the USB cable that comes with the Maverick is clad in cloth, a cloth normally reserved for high-end cables, with a heavy-duty cable tie. Sadly, the included USB charging adaptor may be very giant—virtually as large as a wall wart—probably blocking different AC plugs on an influence strip or twin outlet.

cavalier maverick app Scott Wilkinson

After setup, the Cavalier app provides basic control of the Maverick. Tapping the right arrow opens a menu of options, and tapping the Audio item opens a simple treble/bass control screen.

User Interface

There are three ways to control the Maverick: using the controls on the unit itself, Alexa voice commands, and the Cavalier app for Android and iOS smart devices. Several controls are found on the back of the unit, including four buttons: power on/off, mute the Alexa/speakerphone microphone, Bluetooth mode/pairing, and Wi-Fi mode/setup. Below the buttons is a USB-C port for charging the battery without having to put the speaker in the base, as well as two LED indicators: Bluetooth/Wi-Fi status and charging/battery level.

A row of five LEDs on the front of the speaker indicate the volume, mute status, and when Alexa is listening. A large rotary dial on the top controls the volume, and you tap it one or more times to play/pause, skip to next track, skip to previous track, answer/hang up/ignore a call, and wake up Alexa. You can even program this so-called “Smart Button”  to select a playlist in Spotify and iHeartRadio.

Aside from the physical controls, the Maverick is designed to be controlled mostly by Alexa voice commands and the Cavalier app. The app guides you through the setup routine, and then presents an overview.

cavalier maverick controls Cvalier Audio

Here, you can see all the onboard controls and indicators.

After the overview, the main control screen appears. Here, you can select the audio source, start and pause playback, change the volume, skip to the next or previous track. You can also get help, program the Smart Button, adjust treble and bass, configure Alexa tones, rename the speaker, update the firmware, and change the Wi-Fi network.

Setup & Performance

After charging the Maverick in its base, the Cavalier app guided me through the setup process, connecting the speaker to my home Wi-Fi network. I started playing some music on my iPhone 6 using the app, which provides access to the tunes in the phone’s library. I quickly discovered, however, that selecting different tunes and controlling the volume from within the app is a pain—you must click backward several screens from any list of tunes to get to the volume control. Of course, you can tell Alexa to change the volume, which is much easier, but I still think that the basic playback and volume controls should appear in each song-list screen as well.

I started with Esperanza Spaulding’s “Judas” from her album D+Evolution, which includes lots of bass with guitar and drums as well as her vocals. Overall, the sound was dry and a bit closed in, and the bass was somewhat weak, though the vocals sounded very good.

cavalier maverick case Cavalier Audio

The Maverick comes with a fabric carrying case, which is good, since the unit itself has no handle.

Another good bass test is “Flight of the Cosmic Hippo” from Bela Fleck and the Flecktones’ album of the same name. From the Maverick, the bass was lacking, and the overall sound was slightly closed in, like it was coming from a small speaker—which it was, though I’ve heard other small speakers that formed a much larger soundfield. The banjo and harmonica, however, sounded quite good with clean, clear highs.

Similarly, “New Frontiers” from Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly sounded like it was coming from a small speaker, with no stereo spread. The midrange was slightly muddy, and the bass was restrained, but Fagen’s vocals were good.

I tried playing with the bass and treble controls to see if I could strengthen the bass, but the controls didn’t do much at all. Increasing the bass only made it slightly more muddy, while turning down the treble only muffled the cymbal sizzle. So, I left the controls in their default, middle positions.

Turning to classical music, I listened to Dionysiaques, Op. 62 by Florent Schmitt as performed by the Cincinnati Wind Symphony on the album Songs and Dances. I’ve played the euphonium part in this piece, so I know it well. Overall, the Maverick’s sound was well balanced with good rendering of the different instruments and sections as well as very good dynamic range. The midrange, however, was slightly congested, and there was no stereo spread.

cavalier maverick controls closeup Cavalier Audio

The controls on the back include power on/off, mute the Alexa microphone, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi buttons as well as a USB-C connector and two LED indicators.

I also played on the Southern California Early Music Consort’s album A Festival of Renaissance Dances. Among the tracks on that album is “The Fairie Round,” by Anthony Holborne, played on shawms (renaissance oboes), cornetto (a hybrid instrument with a trumpet-like mouthpiece and finger holes like a recorder), sackbuts (renaissance trombones), and tambourine. The sound was fairly clean and dry with good definition of the instruments, but as before, the sound was slightly congested in the midrange.

Switching to online streaming, I used Alexa to call up several selections from Amazon Music, starting with the playlist called 50 Great Beatles Songs. It started with “A Hard Day’s Night,” which sounded as I had come to expect—slightly dry and closed in with weak bass but good vocals. I told Alexa to turn the volume down and up as well as skip to the next track (“Come Together”), all of which it did flawlessly. The response time, however, seemed a bit slow.

I also played the Overture from Music for the Royal Fireworks by Handel as performed by the Academy of St. Martins in the Fields under Sir Neville Mariner. The sound was well balanced among the instruments and sections, though again, it was slightly closed in and dry.

Comparisons

During my listening, I compared the sound of the Maverick to that of two other Bluetooth speakers I had on hand: the JBL Xtreme 2 and the Tronsmart Element Force, both of which I recently reviewed on TechHive. To switch quickly between these three speakers, I had to use Bluetooth with all of them, which wasn’t a problem; all I had to do is push the Bluetooth button on the back of the Maverick. I could then select each speaker in the phone’s settings and play directly from the Music app.

In all cases, the JBL Xtreme 2 sounded much richer and more open with deeper, bigger bass. This was especially evident on “Judas” and “Flight of the Cosmic Hippo.” The sound was sometimes a bit muddy in the low end, however, and the stereo soundfield wasn’t much better than the Maverick’s; the sound from the JBL seemed to be coming from a relatively small speaker.

The Tronsmart Element Force also had a full sound, but with slightly less bass. In fact, it sounded like it was struggling to reach the lowest notes on “Flight of the Cosmic Hippo,” which isn’t surprising. As I noted in the Tronsmart review, the Element Force had an amazingly wide soundfield, wider than either of the other two speakers. Overall, I thought the Element Force had the most balanced sound of the three.

Bottom Line

The Cavalier Maverick is a well-built wireless, portable speaker that accepts audio via Bluetooth and online streaming via Wi-Fi. It also incorporates Alexa voice control, and it comes with a cool charging stand that keeps the battery topped off. It also comes with a fabric carrying bag, which is great for taking it on the go, since it doesn’t have any sort of handle on the unit itself.

The sound quality is reasonably good, but not stellar. Overall, the sound is lean, dry, and slightly closed in with restrained bass, though the highs are clean and clear, and its dynamic range is very good. On the other hand, it exhibits no stereo sound field to speak of.

It seems to me that a goodly fraction of the Maverick’s high cost must have gone into the high-quality materials used in its construction. That’s all well and good, but if it was done at the expense of better sound quality, I would not have made such a tradeoff.

Speaking of cost, the Maverick’s street price of nearly $250 is much higher than either the JBL Xtreme 2 ($170) or the Tronsmart Element Force ($60). Plus, I prefer the sound of either one over the Maverick. So, unless premium build materials are very important to you, I’d look elsewhere for a portable party.

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