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5-min read

Saregama Carvaan Gold Review: You Pay More For The Harman Kardon Tuned Sound, But Its Worth it

On the occasion of the World Radio Day, the Saregama Carvaan Gold is a very modern take on the simpler times.

Updated:February 13, 2019, 12:03 PM IST
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Saregama Carvaan Gold Review: You Pay More For The Harman Kardon Tuned Sound, But Its Worth it
On the occasion of the World Radio Day, the Saregama Carvaan Gold is a very modern take on the simpler times.
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We had observed this in our review of the Saregama Carvaan Premium too, and it still remains hard to describe the Saregama Carvaan as a product in just one word. It does a lot of stuff, yet remains achingly simple at the same time. It is a radio. It is a Bluetooth speaker. It can connect with your smartphone and has a companion app. It also holds within itself more than 5,000 songs. And it also offers instant access to 50-years’ worth of Ameen Sayani’s Geetmala shows. The memories continue to come flooding back, quite effortlessly. The Carvaan has been around for a while now, and over time, has become available in multiple colours too—Electric Blue, Porcelain White, Oakwood Brown, Cherrywood Red, Charcoal Grey and Walnut Brown. Along the way, the range expanded too. The original Carvaan was followed up by the language based smaller iterations—the Carvaan Hindi, Carvaan Tamil, Carvaan Bengali, Carvaan Marathi and also the Carvaan Mini lineup that includes Carvaan Mini Hindi Legends, Carvaan Mini M.S. Subbulakshmi and most recently, the Carvaan Mini Bhakti. The biggest update to the original Carvaan was in fact the Carvaan Premium, last year, which added the ability to pair with a smartphone and use the companion smartphone app instead to search from its massive library of music. That was priced at Rs 7,390 which was a slight premium over the elder sibling, but totally worth the extra moolah. Now, the newest Carvaan evolution has rolled into town. It is called the Saregama Carvaan Gold, and as the name suggests, is available in Gold and Rose Gold colour options. But this isn’t just a paint job. In fact, the Carvaan Gold has speakers that are optimised by the Samsung owned audio brand Harman Kardon—and is priced at Rs 14,990.

As far as the design is concerned, the Carvaan Gold looks much the same as its elder sibling. In fact, the dimensions are the same too—this measures 28.9 cm x 22.6 cm x 8.4 cm. But the fact that the Carvaan Gold has something new is betrayed by the weight—this now tips the scales at 1.94kg, up from 1.3kg earlier. That is because of the serious upgrade to the audio hardware inside the Saregama Carvaan Gold, compared with the Saregama Carvaan Premium.

The control options and the layout remains largely the same. On the front is the display, three physical buttons for Artists, Specials and Geetmala. There is a large round dial for navigating between artists, albums, songs etc. The polycarbonate body is well built, and it has been put together with great thought. The testament to that fact are the well-marked physical keys, with east to read labelling on each of these controls. On one side spine are the source options, such as radio, Bluetooth, aux-input and the Saregama app. On the other side is the volume control and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The uniqueness of the Carvaan has always been that it holds a wealth of music within it, and you don’t need to connect another source such as a USB drive or connect to the internet to get your fix of retro music. At present, Saregama offers a vast catalogue of music from well-known artists including Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Amitabh Bachchan, Rekha, R.D. Burman, Anand Bakshi, Gulzar and Laxmikant Pyarelal. Then there is every single episode of the legendary Ameen Sayani’s Geetmala. For anyone who has listened to all that music while growing up, this is more than a blast from the past. There are now 130 dedicated music stations, compared with 80 earlier.

But what really is the difference of the new speaker system while listening to all the music from an era gone by? The answer in one word—significant. There are two speakers, rated at 5-watt each, and the tuning done by Harman Kardon makes all the difference. This can also go as loud as the Carvaan Premium, but the detailing is significantly better and there is definitely more depth audible with the same tracks. Not to say that the earlier Carvaan speakers were bad (in fact, they were perfect fits for the job at hand), but when you hear this and then revert to an older Carvaan, you immediately realize that the extra fine detailing is missing. Instruments and vocals definitely better, and the richer sound clearly makes a difference. So much so that any shortcomings in sound now stand out more than before—what we are referring to are the occasional disturbances that tend to creep into FM Radio broadcasts. When kept side by side, these are more noticeable in the Carvaan Gold than the Carvaan Premium, purely because the former features significantly more refined speakers that tend to show up these disturbances more.

The smartness journey started with the Carvaan Premium, and carries on with the Carvaan Gold. You need to download the Saregama Carvaan app (free for Android and iOS) on your smartphone, and when your Carvaan is paired and nearby, you simply stream music to it through the app. The Carvaan app on the phone becomes extremely useful considering the sheer volume of content that the Carvaan Gold packs in, and therefore makes it easier to search for your favorite tracks.

Battery life on the Carvaan Premium is robust too. This lasts around 7 hours of playtime on a single charge, with the volume set around 30% , which is good enough for personal listening.

The Saregama Carvaan continues to have no competition so to speak of. The Carvaan Gold is just the latest flex of muscles from Saregama, to show how it can improve what is essentially a one-of-its-kind device that just brings back a huge chunk of the music catalogue from the years gone by. In many ways, you do transport yourself into a simpler time, when the music was melodious and life was more relaxed. The Saregama Carvaan range, irrespective of which variant you pick, remains an ideal gift for your parents. And if sound quality isn’t to be compromised on, then the premium that you pay for the Harman Kardon tuned sound on the Carvaan Gold is totally worth it. That being said, the Carvaan Premium doesn’t sound inferior too, unless you have heard this.

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