Very few manage to pull off the perfect combination of retro and modern like the Saregama Carvaan. Since the launch of the first Carvaan, the product has become a part of every gifting list, and appeals to both the modern and the older generations. While the company has so far focused on getting the looks and content part right, its latest product takes things to the next level from the audio technology perspective.
In a partnership with Harman Kardon, Saregama launched the premium Carvaan Gold, which retails in India at Rs 14,990. While the alternatives to the initial products were budget Bluetooth speakers, the Carvaan Gold enters a segment with more serious players. So can Saregama’s retro-modern speaker continue to hold its own? Here’s my review.
Retro design, premium feel
If you have seen or used the Carvaan before, then the Carvaan Gold will feel familiar. My mother who has used all the Carvaan products till now couldn’t make out any difference between the Gold and the standard variants. Having said that, there is a difference in the overall build quality.
The plastics and the metal parts all feel a touch more premium. It may still look like a radio from the era gone by, but the Rose Gold color will now appeal to the more younger generation. If the color is not to your tastes though, you can also opt for the Champagne Gold option.
Much improved sound
The highlight of the Carvaan Gold however is its audio quality. A partnership with Harman Kardon means that the music emanating from the speakers are clearer than before. When listening to soul stirring songs from legends like Kishore Kumar or Lata Mangeshkar, every word and musical note is clearly heard. Like before, you can listen to a vast content library boasting 5,000 songs categorized by artists, eras, and moods.
Despite the partnership, the songs themselves don’t sound a whole lot better since the overall quality remains the same (hardly surprising when you consider the era). That is however not a huge let down, since the target audience won’t create much fuss about the lack of HD quality music. In fact, the only difference my mother noticed was that the audio was louder, and it helped her listen to songs from the other room.
The Carvaan now also comes with app support, which can be downloaded on your Android or iOS devices. This app lets you view the entire list of 5,000 songs, search and play a particular song, and even create playlists. Though it is a nice touch, it does take away the unpredictability of playing songs on the jukebox.
For a bit of change, you can also switch to FM/AM radio, which sound pretty much on par with what you expect. The speaker though really comes into its own when listening to newer songs on your smartphone. You can connect your smartphone via Bluetooth, and listen to songs stored locally or via streaming services like Apple Music or Amazon Prime Music. Alternatively, you can also choose to connect using other connectivity options like USB and AUX.
Should you buy it?
The Carvaan Gold is clearly the best product created by Saregama so far. While it retains its essence – Bollywood nostalgia – it also takes things to a next level when it comes to audio quality courtesy of its partnership with Harman Kardon. The target audience may not be able to clearly define the differences, but there is a clear upgrade in terms of audio quality.
My only grouse is the Rs 14,990 price tag. At this price, it is no longer the ideal gifting option for any occasion. At this price, you will find better sounding Bluetooth speakers that can be connected to your smartphones to listen to music. That said, the Carvaan Gold differentiates itself from Bluetooth speakers with its built-in content library. So if audio quality is as important to you as the built-in Bollywood content, then there is nothing better.