Understanding that retro has a ‘forever’ taste to it, Saregama, a noted music label recently launched the Carvaan speakers. A conventional transistor-lookalike device pre-loaded with 5,000 soundtracks dipped in a modern avatar is what makes the Carvaan speakers what it is. But, is it just that or is there more to it? Is it worth spending Rs 5,990?
I am a 90s kid and just like every other kid from that era, I also find myself delusional when asked if I like a song by Kishore Kumar more than the recent record-breaking hit song Despacito by Luis Fonsi. And, I do not deny that it all comes down to mood, setting, taste, and occasion. The Carvaan speaker is where I find some respite and can enjoy the best of two different eras whenever I wish to. That said, lets first look at what the Caravaan speaker is made of and if it proves itself to be worthy enough.
Design and Features
Besides everything that the Saregama Carvaan has to offer, you will not be able to resist taking a good gaze at the way it has been designed. And, if you have ever had the opportunity of playing around with old-school radio when you used to visit your grandpa in the summer vacations, the Carvaan will give you a hit of nostalgia right out-of-the-box.
Essentially designed to play the 5000 pre-loaded songs, the portable speakers also lets you play your personal favorites over Bluetooth or through a USB drive. It also lets you tune into any local radio station in your city. Besides the Saragama button on the left-hand side, it has FM, Bluetooth and USB buttons to switch between sources. The USB port to connect your flash drive is on the back along with the micro USB port for charging, and a reset button. ALSO READ: Sony KD-65A1 OLED 4K Smart TV Review: Picture as it should be
It also has a rotating dial on the front which lets you scroll through the preloaded playlists, FM stations or folders on your flash drive. Beneath the dial, are two buttons for you to skip to the next or previous song. What frequency band is to a radio, the black band with LCD display on the extreme left is to the Saregama Carvaan. The LCD display shows the battery strength indicator and soundtrack details. On the right of the speaker, you will find the old-school styled volume rocker with a 3.5mm auxiliary port to connect external speakers, in case you want to amp up the music output.
The Real Deal – 5000 songs
The songs on Saregama Caravan are categorized in three tabs, ‘Artistes’, ‘Moods’ and ‘Geetmala’. The ‘Artistes’ tab offers songs from 23 legendary musical artists such as Kishore Kumar, RD Burman, Kaifi Azmi, Lata Mangeshkar, Sahir Ludhianvi, Anand Bakshi and many others. While the ‘Moods’ tab lets you choose from songs categorized under Happy, Sad, Romance and others.
The ‘Geetmala’ lets you tune into a collection of songs with relatable stories dating back from 1952 to 1979 in the voice of noted Indian radio announcer Ameen Sayani. Since I have fond memories of listening to the radio before smart portable music engulfed my ears, and the ‘Geetmala’ mode became my instant favorite out of the whole Saregama Carvaan package. However, the only loose gravel on the smooth road to nostalgia is that the 5000 songs on the Carvaan are just listed, and not organized. ALSO READ: Cayin N3 Digital Audio Player Review: Audiophiles, listen up
These soundtracks are so randomly placed that if you wish to go back to the song you just stumbled upon, you might have to wait for the next opportunity. Also, the song categorization in Moods tab is not up to the mark. So chances are that you might come across an upbeat song about love under the ‘Sad’ section. Maybe Saregama Carvaan understands the irony of love and sadness.
While the music label behind the Carvaan is known for their robust collection of Indian classical music, the ‘Hindustani Classic Music’ collection seems to offer a limited portfolio that just touches the surface. You can check out the complete list of songs that comes pre-loaded here.
The portable music player has two primary audio drivers on the front and delivers a sound output which is nothing like the conventional radios. The sound output on the Saregama Carvaan will leave you mesmerized and surprised both, no matter what source you are playing the music from, although the FM mode might be tricky depending on the reception of airwaves. While streaming music from Bluetooth, I noticed no lag or stutter while using the speaker and noticed the music playback output to be consistent across high and low levels. ALSO READ: Toreto BoomBox review: Bluetooth speakers gone Hipster
When connected to Bluetooth, the buttons are disabled on the speaker. So, you will not be able to skip to songs from the speaker itself, and will need to use your source device. Also, the LCD display doesn’t show any details of the track being played in Bluetooth mode.
Just as the John Lennon-like round glasses made its way back into fashion last year, there are other retro things debuting again in hipster times. And, Saregama Carvaan is like those glasses. It is designed to appeal to music lovers with a taste for the classics and yet meet the modern methods of streaming music. The speaker houses a battery which is rated to last for 4-5 hours on a full charge, that should take around an hour to charge. Considering that it is priced at Rs 5,990, the battery life might steal your thunder halfway if not charged completely.
During time with the Carvaan, it left me impressed and longing. It made me come across some of the old classics I had never heard and wanted more. Besides, the Saregama Carvaan makes for a perfect musical companion placed in a corner of your home just like the old day’s transistors. Consider that festive times are around the corner, the Saregama Carvaan could make for a great present for your parents or grandparents.