Skip to main content

DreamWave Survivor review

DreamWave Survivor
DreamWave Survivor
MSRP $299.99
“The DreamWave Survivor is a decent speaker, and it could save your car battery.”
  • Rugged construction
  • Can jumpstart your car
  • Excellent battery life
  • IPX5 protection from water/dust/sand/snow
  • 30W amplifier packs plenty of power
  • Lacks the audio clarity of some similarly-priced speakers
  • Underwhelming LED performance
  • Nowhere to store jumper cables

A glance at the DreamWave Survivor’s chunky exterior immediately reminds us of the Panasonic Toughbook and Toughpad. These devices prioritized ruggedness above nearly every design element. They were hardly portable, and certainly ugly, but they filled a niche need and did it well. The Survivor isn’t necessarily such a device — but you can’t tell by looking.

With its rugged, outdoor-element-proof construction, built-in LED flashlight, USB charging, and 12V car battery jump-start feature, and of course the ability to stream music via Bluetooth, the DreamWave Survivor’s feature set is an interesting collection of capabilities. But, as is often the case with products offering a number of functions outside their primary purpose, they end up yielding mediocre performance across the board. When it comes to the Survivor, whether or not it’s worth the price of entry will come down to which of those aforementioned features is most important to you.

Out of the box

Function over form appears to be a hallmark of the Survivor, and that’s evident from the moment you get a look at the box. The army green container offers little in the way of frills or clever packaging, instead opting for a minimalistic vibe by way of a prominent logo and not much else.

DreamWave Survivor
Bradley Iger/Digital Trends
Bradley Iger/Digital Trends

Since the Survivor is sold internationally, inside you’ll find an AC adapter with four interchangeable plug types for different regions. There’s also another adapter to charge the unit with a car cigarette lighter, a 3.5mm audio cable for direct line-in audio, a brief instruction manual and – by far the most unlikely peripheral of the bunch – a pair of jumper cables.

Features and design

Those jumper cables are for use with the Survivor’s 400 amp 12-volt car battery jump starting function. Although the specification seems vague, DreamWave says that when the Survivor has 50 percent of its charge or more, it’s capable of jumpstarting a 7.0-liter V8 engine. But if your vehicle refuses to be jolted back to life – or you forget the jumper cables, which could happen since they’re not integrated into the device itself and there’s nowhere to store them – the Survivor also sports a built-in 110 lumen LED light which can project an SOS flash sequence for emergencies. That’s all fine and good, but it wouldn’t have been a stretch to design the Survivor to trickle-charge a car battery through the cigarette lighter. Hey, if smartphone batteries can do it …

It’s capable of jumpstarting a 7.0-liter V8 engine.

For those who spend a lot of time outdoors and want to take their tunes with them, the Survivor seems like a tailor-made device. Camping, desert parties, and even motorsports all seem like activities where it would be a welcome addition. The Survivor is also IPX5 compliant, which, by definition, means that along with being dust, dirt, and snow resistant, it can withstand a jet of water from a 6.3mm nozzle sprayed at any part of the device for up to three minutes.

The boombox-like design is well-suited to withstand harsh outdoor environments, with rubberized covers on either end of the device, one side offering the power, Bluetooth pairing, and volume controls, and the other side protecting the USB, 3.5mm line-in, AC adapter, and 12V DC ports from the elements. An NFC pairing chips sits atop the device.

With its rubberized handle on top and traditional boombox layout, portability is fairly convenient, though at 4.3 pounds it is a little heftier than something you might consider putting in your carry-on luggage while traveling.

Audio performance

In terms of sonic capability, the Survivor boasts a pair of full-range speakers that are supported by two tweeters, all of which are driven by a 30-watt amplifier which touts “anti-distortion circuitry.”

The Survivor offers 14 hours of continuous playback or seven hours at full volume.

Ambiguity aside, the Survivor doesn’t seem to lack for loudness in most situations. And to be fair, it admirably refuses to resort to overdriven noisiness at high volume.

Overall frequency response is reasonably flat with solid-yet-unobtrusive bass response, even when cranked up. However, higher frequency sounds like cymbals and some vocals can occasionally lack clarity in comparison to similarly priced offerings.

We’d wager the Survivor’s weather-proof construction plays some part in the rolled off treble, and considering the device was made with outdoor use in mind – where ambient sounds will undoubtedly affect the listening experience anyway – the compromise in nuance seems like a reasonable tradeoff. Ultimately, what the Survivor lacks in aural refinement, it makes up for with sheer auditory grunt.

Everything else

Much of the Survivor’s heft is due to the 12,000mAh lithium polymer battery housed inside. DreamWave says it offers 14 hours of continuous playback or seven hours at full volume, and after an afternoon’s worth of casual use in the backyard, we see no reason to doubt that claim. We’d even go as far as to call it conservative. After eight or nine hours of use at moderate volume, it still had more than half a charge left.

But the Survivor’s other features yielded less enthusiasm. Despite that massive battery, the USB charging port’s performance was lackluster at best. While streaming Pandora through Bluetooth and charging my iPhone 6 through the Survivor’s 5V, 1A USB port for about an hour, I noted that my phone’s battery level was actually down a few percent from where it had been before plugging it in.

Similarly, I expected the LED light on the Survivor to be the ultimate heavy-duty flashlight, but its performance fell short here as well. In a side-by-side comparison, the Survivor was noticeably outperformed by a small LED flashlight powered by four AAA batteries.

To test the jump starting capability of the Survivor, we disconnected the battery on our car, which is powered by a 5.7-liter V8, and hooked the leads directly to the Survivor’s jumper cable attachments. Sure enough, the fully charged Survivor allowed the engine to crank over on the first attempt. Although the manufacturer’s claim of the Survivor being able to jump a 7.0-liter V8 is somewhat arbitrary without more specifics, I can report that it will function as intended on a factory-stock 5.7-liter Dodge V8.

For occasional use – as the Survivor’s jumping starting capability was likely designed – it should be able to get you out of a jam. But what’s the likelihood your car battery dying in the middle of nowhere and you having the wherewithal to bring a fully-charged Survivor and its jumper cable adapter along for the ride? That one seems a bit remote to us.


While the DreamWave Survivor doesn’t end up being the solution to all the needs of an adventure-minded audiophile, it performs its core function – playing wireless audio outdoors – conveniently and with solid audio performance. The battery life of the Survivor also seems to handily outperform the manufacturer’s claims, and while the USB charging and LED light functions may have failed to impress, truthfully they’re just window dressing.

At a suggested price of $280, there are a number of other worthwhile wireless speaker options worth considering, but if you need rugged durability, resistance to harsh outdoor elements, and the ability to jump your car from your Bluetooth boombox, you could do a lot worse than the DreamWave Survivor. Just don’t forget those jumper cables.

Bradley Iger
Relocating to Los Angeles after competing his undergraduate degree in Rhetorical Studies at the University of California…
Kia EV3: release date, performance, range, and more
White Kia EV3

Kia is on a roll. Hot on the heels of the success of the Kia EV6 and EV9, the company is already announcing what could be its cheapest electric vehicle yet -- the Kia EV3.

The Kia EV line seems to follow the rule of lower numbers indicating a lower price — and if so, the EV3 will end up being the cheapest electric car Kia has released to date. That, however, thankfully doesn’t mean that the EV3 will be a low-end car — it just means that Kia may be pushing the boundaries on electric car pricing.

Read more
Kia EV3 vs Tesla Model Y: Can Kia’s new entry-level car take on Tesla?
White Kia EV3

The Kia EV3 is finally coming, and it could well end up being the best small-size electric SUV to buy when it finally rolls out. It's smaller than the Kia EV9, but it offers many of the same design elements and features. But there's another small-size electric car that's currently one of the most popular vehicles out there -- the Tesla Model Y.

How does the Kia EV3 compare with the Tesla Model Y? And is one vehicle actually better than the other? We put the Kia EV3 and the Tesla Model Y head-to-head to find out.
The design of the Kia EV3 is very different than that of the Model Y, though they're both reasonably good-looking vehicles.

Read more
Entry-level Cadillac Optiq EV promises 300 miles of range for $54,000
2025 Cadillac Optiq front three quarter view.

The 2025 Cadillac Optiq will be the General Motors luxury brand's entry-level EV when it starts production late this fall. But it won't have entry-level specs.

After unveiling the Optiq in November 2023, Cadillac is now filling in some of the blanks on this electric crossover SUV's spec sheet. We now know that the Optiq will feature a standard dual-motor all-wheel drive powertrain tuned for 300 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque, along with an 85-kilowatt-hour battery pack providing an estimated range of over 300 miles. Like other GM EVs, the Optiq will be capable of one-pedal driving, with regenerative braking adjustable via a steering wheel paddle.

Read more