Riva Arena vs. Concert: How to Choose Between Riva’s Brilliant Home-and-Travel Smart Speakers

The Riva Arena and Riva Concert speakers appear quite similar, but were released at different times and with slightly different marketing, so it can be difficult to untangle what are real contrasts and what is just confusing, useless hype.

We’re here for you. The speakers are actually quite similar; both offer fantastic, room-filling sound from a very small footprint, both excel as smart speakers, and both can be portable with an optional battery pack.

We’ll contrast the differences below in a table and then give you our two cents on which speaker is right for whom.

Update History of This Article

This article was originally published on July 16, 2019.

Side-by-Side Comparison: Riva Arena vs Riva Concert

The Riva Arena’s Google World vs. the Riva Concert’s Alexa

Since Riva Arena and Concert are so similar, your choice is likely to come down to which universe you are already more immersed in: Google’s or Amazon’s. The Riva Arena is your choice if you’re in the Google universe, and the Riva Concert is for Amazon Alexa. They’re both good, and if you’re already using other products with one or the other, just stick with it.

That said, note that for the most part Google Assistant is winning out over Amazon Alexa in terms of being able to understand and provide higher quality answers to search queries; this isn’t surprising since the dominant search engine specializes in this. Reviewers comparing the two systems have also found that Google Assistant devices tend to be easier to set up than with Amazon Alexa. And overall control of smart home devices generally runs smoother with Google as well. Alexa excels over Google Assistant in shopping, of course; Amazon has made sure that you can voice shop with ease on Alexa speakers like the Riva Concert.

If you’re agnostic about the smart assistants, just go with the the Riva Arena
That’s why if you’re agnostic about which smart assistant world you want to enter, we think the Riva Arena would be an overall better choice than the Riva Concert.

The Riva Concert is more of a direct answer from Riva to the Sonos One, which also features Alexa voice control. Some reviewers think the Sonos One sounds better, some prefer the Riva Concert. The major feature differences between the Sonos One and the Riva Concert are that the Riva speaker has an optional battery pack, which means you can use it outside or away from power; that you can connect to it in more ways, such as via Bluetooth and AirPlay; and that the Concert has full Alexa support with features such as calling.

The Riva Concert has one more nice feature that is unavailable on other Alexa speakers; you can turn off its ability to listen with the simple touch of a button and enter “privacy mode”. This is certainly a nice feature, given that thousands of people are employed to listen to Amazon recordings.

How the Riva Arena and Riva Concert Sound and Perform

Aside from their smart assistants, the Arena and Concert are so similar as to be nearly the same speaker. At the time of its release, the Arena tended to get stronger reviews from critics, but they were listening to the same essential hardware as the Concert, which is newer. It’s not surprising that we’ve gotten a bit more demanding as portable speakers continue to improve.

In any case, both the Arena and Concert have been lauded by audiophile critics for offering true, bookshelf-speaker quality stereo and a refined soundstage in a portable speaker with such a small footprint. They can put the musicians in your living room, and knock out punchy, convincing bass and powerful mids and highs without getting shrill or strained at top volumes.

These speakers offer brilliant, room-filling sound from a very small footprint and are frequently ranked above portable speakers of their size and even above the Sonos One
The optional power pack makes the speakers not just comparable to small home speakers but also to larger portable Bluetooth speakers, and they sound excellent and far more refined than others in that field. The Arena and Concert run on the same battery pack (as sold it’s often labeled for the Arena but is actually for both). There is a small difference in the battery claim made by Riva: that the battery lasts for 20 hours on the Arena vs. 15 hours on the Concert. But they’re both using the exact same optional external battery, and the difference in these claims is likely in Alexa’s power use on the Concert; as we mentioned you can turn that listening off with the touch of a button, and we’d do so when on the battery.

In either case, there is far more than enough battery to power a large, outdoor dance party with quality sound that goes until dawn and beyond.

Drawbacks to the Riva Arena and Concert

Here are the negatives to these speakers as we see them:

  • You have to pick between the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa worlds.
  • The battery is a bit expensive, and really rather necessary we think since that’s what makes the speakers portable. Figure that cost into your overall purchase decision, as you’ll likely want it.
  • If you’re willing to live without WiFi, and a smart assistant, and high-res audio, there’s a high quality large portable Bluetooth speaker that we prefer.
  • They don’t have a carry handle or full waterproofing; if you need a more tough and road-ready speaker go for the JBL Xtreme 2 or JBL Boombox.
  • While you can certainly take them out and about, the Riva and Concert are not the lightest speakers out there at 3 lbs. (1.4 kg.). We review ultra-portable speakers here (though you’ll sacrifice of course a bit on sound quality for increased portability).

Wrap-Up: Your Arena vs. Concert Decision and Shopping Options

If you’re wrapped up in the Amazon universe don’t hesitate to go for the Riva Concert; it sounds way better than Amazon’s own Alexa-branded speaker offerings and unlike the Bose Smart Home and Soundtouch it has complete Alexa features including calling.

Otherwise, we’d go for the Riva Arena. In the smart assistant arms race, Google has been ahead for the last year or two (though it’s close) and we expect it to continue more or less in this vain.

Otherwise, the Arena is almost the same as the Concert, both externally, in features, and how they sound.

Riva Arena
Great soundstage, bass, and power from a tiny speaker footprint and fully integrated Google Assistant
Riva Concert
Ditto but with Amazon Alexa as your smart assistant
Riva Arena or Concert Power Pack
Makes your Arena or Concert portable for about 15 hours; labeled for the Arena but actually meant for both

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