Cavalier Audio Maverick Smart Speaker: Fresh Air for Alexa

The Maverick from Cavalier Audio is a WiFi/Bluetooth speaker featuring Amazon’s Alexa voice control that seamlessly transitions from the home to portable with an elegant charging base. Alexa, pack your bags. We’re heading outside.

Cavalier Audio is a new company that strives to bring “classic craftsmanship to modern technology.” The Maverick ($300) is their first and only product at the moment, and it is a thing of beauty. Of course, first and foremost, audio products need to sound good, but if you’re going to have this sitting in your living room, it doesn’t hurt that it has a quality look and feel.

The Maverick is made from metal, leather and quality woven fabrics. It is available in black with black leather or indigo with a light brown leather trim. It has a charging base finished in leather, and comes with a fabric-wrapped USB-C charging cable. I know I shouldn’t get distracted by the little details, but I love that it has a fabric snap to keep the cable tidy. A canvas carrying bag completes the package.

The Maverick features stereo playback with a 20-watt amplifier powering two side-firing speakers with two passive bass radiators. The built-in battery provides up to 9 hours of playback on a single charge, dependent on playback volumes. It has multi-room support or you can simply pair up two Mavericks for wider left-right stereo playback. Another feature I love: the Maverick uses an assortment of electric guitar licks as indicator tones for things like power on and off.

The top of the unit has an analog volume control ring to quickly adjust the volume if you don’t want to use voice commands. The top also has a programmable capacitive touch button that can be set to perform a variety of commands. It comes preset so that one tap is play/pause, two taps skips to the next track, three taps skips back. It also is used to wake Alexa or answer Bluetooth phone calls. On the side are power, WiFi, Bluetooth, and a microphone mute/privacy button keeps Alexa from listening in.

Given that it only has a 20-watt amplifier, the Maverick has an interesting dilemma. It isn’t the most powerful system for use at home. When taken off the base and outdoors, it is quite competent as a portable player. The stereo imaging isn’t very wide, but it does have a sense of space. Indoors, the lack of deep bass was apparent, and the system doesn’t play especially loud. It can develop a harsh sound in the upper midrange at louder listening levels. Kept at moderate levels, the sound is natural and balanced. For many users, having the ability to take an Alexa speaker outside or easily around the house makes up for the lack of power and bass.

The Cavalier app makes it relatively simple to set up and link to Amazon and other apps. Note that your password needs to be 8 characters. When I tried creating my account, it just kept locking me out without telling me what was the problem. The Maverick works with iHeart Radio, Pandora, Amazon Prime Music, TuneIn, SiriusXM, Audible, and Spotify Premium with Spotify Connect. I used this audition as an opportunity to upgrade my Spotify account. The difference in quality is worth it to upgrade to Spotify Premium, and I’m sold on that, beyond getting ad-free music and unlimited skips. When out of WiFi range, the Maverick works with Bluetooth.

It’s great to see a variety of smart speakers hitting the market. So few are portable, and even fewer look nice enough to leave prominently out on a bookshelf or desk. The Cavalier Audio Maverick, portable and attractive, is a solid new product from a company striving to make quality speakers.