Denon's a company that built its reputation on making great audio hardware, from receivers to speakers, and I had no idea it had made the jump to portable Bluetooth speakers. A company that was founded in 1910 and helped to develop digital audio technology, it's now making portable, water-resistant speakers. It's been around for digital audio in all of its forms, and there's something poetic about that.

At $100, Denon's Envaya is on the pricier side of a Bluetooth speaker its size, but it has the audio chops to match.

Denon Envaya Pocket Bluetooth speaker

Denon's smallest Envaya speaker has profoundly excellent sound for its size, and its build is both incredibly pleasing and mildly frustrating at the same time. That being said, it's worth its price.

The Good

  • Surprisingly excellent sound
  • IP67 water-resistant
  • Feels sturdy and substantial
  • 10-hour battery life

The Bad

  • Charging cable is difficult to connect
  • No tactile feedback from buttons

Small but fierce

Denon Envaya Pocket What I love

The sound, the sound, the sound. Normally, little speakers like this sound OK, but they're tinny, lacking bass, and altogether "meh." I'm pretty picky when it comes to my speakers, and I really have to say that I was actually blown away when I turned on the Envaya Pocket.

The Envaya Pocket sounds better than any speaker this size has a right to.

Now don't get me wrong: it doesn't sound as good as a larger or more powerful speaker would, but it definitely sounds better than any similarly sized speaker I've tested. It has such a rich, warm tone, and it produces better bass than it has any right to. It does seem to throttle volume a little, kind of like radio stations do, but that's not noticeable after listening for a few songs.

I love the size of the Envaya Pocket, because it takes the word "portable" and runs with it. It's no longer than my glasses case, but it doesn't feel cheap. It's got a bit of weight to it, and it feels solid, so I wouldn't worry about popping it in my backpack or having it out in the backyard for a barbecue. And that IP67 rating means it's totally protected from dust, and it can handle being submerged in up to three feet of water for half an hour, so it's great for listening to tunes poolside.

And given its size, I was surprised and impressed by the 10-hour battery life, which matched with what the company says on its site.

Denon Envaya Pocket What I don't like

The sound is great, but the hardware? Not so much.

The buttons and charging port on this thing aren't great. The play/pause, skip, and power buttons offer no tactile feedback whatsoever, so when I first tried to turn it on, I had no idea if I was actually, you know, turning it on. And trying to change the volume on the fly is incredibly cumbersome.

The issue here is that, because of its size, this is totally the type of speaker you'd pick up and carry with you around the house or have on the counter while you cook. So instead of changing volume on your phone, you'd likely opt for the buttons on the speaker, but nope, they're too hard to press.

The first time I went to charge the Envaya Pocket was another annoying experience and another indication of a clumsy build. The flap that covers the charging port and AUX in comes out on a rubber arm, but it doesn't clear the charging port in a straight line. So when you try to plug in the charging cable, the rubber arm leans on the cable, making it way too difficult to connect. It sounds like a nitpick, but it doesn't get better, so it's going to be that way every time you want to charge it.

Are these minor annoyances enough to make the Envaya Pocket a no-buy? No, they're just that — minor. But they do affect everyday use, so you'll need some patience and/or to just get used to it.

Denon Envaya Pocket Should you buy it?

Bluetooth speakers are a dime a dozen nowadays, so it can be hard to know which ones are worth spending your money on. The Envaya Pocket is a diamond in the rough, so to speak. Its size belies its sound quality, and its build is exceptional, aside from it's two annoying flaws — awful buttons and an even worse charging door.

4 out of 5

Are those flaws enough to stop you from spending $99 on the speaker? I don't think so. It's rare that a speaker this small sounds this great at this price.

$99 at Amazon

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