Brane X Speaker: Compact Size, Home Theater Sound

Bass is foundational. A dedicated speaker capable of reproducing convincing bass and sub-bass not only makes music and films feel more authentic, but can even improve the detail and dynamics of the higher registers by freeing up sonic space below. So attempting to jam a real subwoofer into a handheld speaker is by no means a crazy idea—it’s just crazy difficult.

That’s what makes the Brane X so impressive. Over the years, I’ve heard lofty claims about low-extension “woofers” in virtually every kind of compact speaker, but the Brane X is the first to hit all the notes literally. It does so with a specialized RAD (Repel Attract Driver) that seems to perform physics-defying magic from within the speaker’s stout frame. That’s matched by multiple high-frequency drivers above for clear and surprisingly expansive performance across registers.

To land this kind of breakthrough bass in a package you can take virtually anywhere, Brane charges a fee that will make most casual buyers spit up their beverages. But if your budget is negotiable, the Brane X is a fabulous wireless speaker that comes as close as I’ve heard to putting a full home audio system in a pint-sized box.

Surreal Sound

Do you listen to music with percussion or drums? Bass guitar, synth, or strings? If so, you’ll benefit from what the Brane X can do. What’s most notable about the speaker’s potent punch isn’t how much bass it pumps out, but the kind and quality. This is pure, full, and unadulterated low-frequency performance from the source.

Black oval shaped speaker with handle on top and icons on top sitting in woodchips beside small plants

Photograph: Ryan Waniata

As you might guess, the Brane X is most viscerally impressive when hammering hip hop and electronic grooves, where the kick hits with clean authority well below 50 Hz, without overpowering the other instruments. Yet, listening through my catalog, it became increasingly clear that the RAD subwoofer’s pointed touch is just as impressive when more subtly deployed.

The haunting vocal and guitar intro in Springsteen’s “The Ghost of Tom Joad” sounds clear and airy, as you’d expect from a quality portable. Then the bass guitar kicks in, and everything is elevated. The rich natural tone the Brane X reproduces adds depth and gravity to the song, bringing its full emotional poignancy to life.

I didn’t have a suitable portable that could stand up to the Brane X, so I called in some of my favorite homebound Wi-Fi speakers, including the Sonos Era 100 (9/10, WIRED Recommends) and Era 300 (9/10, WIRED Recommends). Even the thrilling 300, which serves up impressive bass in its own right, couldn’t match the Brane in the heaviest tracks, sketching out more of an impression of the lowest tones than the full monty.

Brane says its Repel Attract Driver can deliver this kind of authenticity by using a special magnet and spring system to cancel the “internal air pressure forces” that hinder other speakers. This results in a claimed “tenfold increase in sub-bass sound and a hundredfold increase in sub-bass efficiency.” It sounds like so much techno mumbo jumbo out there, but with the Brane X, you can actually hear it working, and not just from the performance. Tapping the power key evokes little whirring sounds, apparently adjusting its complex internal mechanism ahead of playback.

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