With regard to construction, nothing new to note about this Riva Festival, whose lines and construction are similar to those of the Arena. As on the latter, the quality of the finishes is rather satisfactory, but we regret however the choice of a very messy glossy plastic, extremely sensitive to dust like fingerprints.
Pregnant purely sedentary, the Festival is a beautiful beast of 37 cm wide, which weighs the trifle of 6.5 kg. It is therefore unlikely to lack stability, regardless of the surface on which it is placed. Despite this, the designers of Riva have taken the trouble to grant him two standard screw threads, to secure it to one foot. Attention that will certainly concern only few users, but which remains welcome.
The Riva Festival and Arena side by side.
At the evocation of the control buttons, the parallels with the Arena take again more. The upper control panel is exactly the same, and performs exactly the same functions – perfectly complete. So we find the 5 buttons distributed cross to manage music playback, listening volume, navigate between tracks, choose the source of listening and start pairing wirelessly. All are reactive and a small keyer makes it easier to find those dedicated to volume.
Wired connectivity includes an auxiliary input on 3.5mm mini-jack and an optical S / PDIF input. There is also a USB Type-A port that can be used to read files on a storage device or to charge a mobile device. On the other hand, here as on the Arena, no trace of connector RJ45: the connection to the network must obligatorily be done by Wi-Fi, and too bad for those who would have preferred the almost infallible stability of an Ethernet connection …
Bluetooth connectivity is also available, but it does not allow voice communications in hands-free mode.
At the rear is also the small switch to choose between the operating modes "Home" or "Away". As a reminder, the latter makes it possible to connect several Riva multiroom speakers to each other via an ad-hoc Wi-Fi mesh network (Mesh), even in the absence of an available Wi-Fi network.
Riva Wand app on iOS
The Riva Wand mobile app (iOS and Android) gives access to the configuration of the speaker. This is where the (brief) acoustical settings of the speaker are located.
Here even more than before, nothing new is to say compared to the Riva Arena, since the multimedia possibilities offered by the Festival are strictly the same. There is therefore the ability to play music stored on a UPnP / DLNA server, and Apple AirPlay compatibility.
As for multiroom operation, it really boils down to Google Chromecast compatibility – not necessarily something to celebrate, because Google's ecosystem is not the most complete. For example, adjusting the individual sound level of each speaker, or pairing two speakers in stereo requires very cumbersome juggling between Google Home and Riva Wand applications.
For more information on the multimedia capabilities of Riva multiroom loudspeakers, please refer to the Riva Arena test.
Without being free from reproach, the sound performances of the Riva Festival are convincing, well-mastered and quite transparent.
Frequency response with default acoustic settings (black), bass and treble at +5 dB (red), bass and treble at -5 dB (blue). Note that the effect of the adjustment on the bass is very far from reaching the promised amplitude – which we have decided not to sanction, since the default rendering is a balance that does not call for correction.
We immediately notice the excellent neutrality of the sound produced. On the whole, rather rare for an enclosure of this type, one does not note strictly any resonance on all the audible spectrum. The balance is absolutely perfect, as is the respect of the stamps, even in the heaviest mixes. The icing on the cake, the cleanliness of the sound is also remarkable. The acoustic behavior of the chassis of the speaker is exemplary, as shown by the astonishing result of our measure of harmonic distortion.
Hard to imagine more ideal! Alas, these two measures conceal in truth what turns out to be the only sound defect of the Festival: a lack of precision in the low frequencies. This deficit would have been understandable if the extension of bass was good, but it is not really the case: with a very sharp attenuation occurring from 65 Hz, it is even slightly better than that of the Arena. In fact, we hear that below 150 Hz, sounds tend to lose their character and lack of impact. Lovers of electro and hip-hop will taste little. For aficionados of acoustic music, on the other hand, the problem is much more easily surmountable, even if they too will notice a global dynamics rather shy.
For stereo, the Festival, like the Arena, uses an acoustic design that its manufacturer calls "Trillium". The latter distributes the signal on three channels: two lateral channels radiating towards the sides of the enclosure, as well as a central channel located on the facade. The result is very convincing: it makes it possible to exploit the reverberation of the listening room to obtain a width of scene exceeding the dimensions of the enclosure, while the central channel guarantees an excellent homogeneity in the diffusion of the sound. Very wide, the perceived soundscape remains in spite of everything of a spatial accuracy quite correct.
Frequency response with default acoustic adjustment, volume normalized to 85 dB SPL (red) and 79 dB SPL (blue). Normalization at 1 kHz to 1 m.
A small detail to note is that the speaker seems to automatically apply a slight physiological equalization to its sound reproduction: the frequency response varies slightly depending on the sound volume, the bass and treble being reinforced when you lower the sound. The effect is not disengaged, but it is done in a very subtle way: to the ear, it is just if we manage to perceive it. That's good: it's exactly what you expect from a quality physiological equalization!
Note in passing that the Festival is capable of producing a very powerful sound, in phase with what we can expect from a speaker of this size. It is certainly necessary to avoid raising the volume beyond 80% of its maximum value, otherwise an aggressive and unpleasant dynamic limitation begins to appear; but the corresponding sound level is already very generous, and is more than enough to fill a large living room.
Pulse response time in Bluetooth.
When using Bluetooth, the latency is almost half a second: a value much too high to ensure the viewing of a video without embarrassment related to the shift sound / image. For this purpose, if possible, prefer a wired connection.