Saregama Carvaan Gold solely banks on the nostalgia that the old-generation has so many memories attached to, and that’s priceless
Irrespective of how modern music has become today, there has always been a sacred place for the classics. Saregama, one of the premier music labels in India, capitalised on what struck a chord with the generation that is fond of retro music, besides the then popular weekly countdown Geetmala, in the form of Carvaan jukebox. This time, it’s fancier and pricier. Saregama Carvaan Gold is a spruced-up version with audio powered by Harman Kardon, as well as the ability to manage the playlist with remote control.
Saregama Carvaan Gold now has a larger footprint than the previous model. It has improved speakers, as well as brings multiple ways to control the music playback. At a price of Rs 14,990, the jukebox brings nostalgia right into your bedroom with choices that make it double as a Bluetooth speaker. The company has always insisted Carvaan is the best option to gift to your parents, grandparents, or even to someone who relishes listening to classics and, of course, Geetmala. Is it worth your money? Let’s find out.
Saregama Carvaan Gold Design and Hardware
As compared to the first-generation model, the Carvaan Gold looks premium now. The radio-like design is its selling point. It has a big, round, button right at the front with five additional buttons that have been programmed to tune the music as per the listener’s preference. But we have seen this setup before on the previous model.
There are four modes with dedicated buttons on the left panel – Saregama radio, FM radio, AUX cable input, and Bluetooth. The volume dial button is on the right panel along with the 3.5mm audio-out headphone jack. The back of the Carvaan Gold has the charging connector, USB port, an FM antenna port/ AUX input, and the Reset button. In fact, the design of the Carvaan Gold is so similar, it could be passed as the old model.
The Saregama Carvaan Gold has a metallic body that has been emblazoned with a gold finish. It feels sturdy and solid. There is a handle for portability, which complements the design. We liked how the jukebox goes with the decor of any room, be it your bedroom or drawing room.
Saregama Carvaan Gold Sound
The Saregama Carvaan Gold features five speakers powered by Harman Kardon, which is one of the good names when it comes to audio products. Since the jukebox is loaded with about 5,000 old Bollywood songs, the bar for sound quality needs to be changed, for good, before we come to modern music.
Classics featuring Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Manna Dey, and more have the old instruments playing throughout the music that lacks the bass and treble as modern music has. This is actually taken care of by the speakers very well. The sound is clear – little thumps, minor sound cues, and vocals are distinctive. However, the speakers fail at belting out sub-bass properly. There is even a lack of good treble downplays the instruments such as flute, which largely contributed to the retro music.
While the lack of bass and treble pretty much make the classics a treat for the ears, the same cannot be said for the music mostly produced today. The Carvaan Gold offers Bluetooth and AUX connectivity so that external music can be played. We threw some EDM tracks, pop music, and some Bollywood songs from recent years at the speakers. Not only the tracks lack sub-bass, but there is also a subpar output of lows and lower mids, which will bother a true audiophile. The bass is decent if you don’t blast the volume to the maximum, which is when it tends to become a little suppressed while dropping the thump, whatsoever.
The vocals in a song are, surprisingly, quite clear – which also made us try the speakers to watch a movie on a Bluetooth-connected laptop and the result was as expected. The flow of sound from speaker to speaker is impressive while watching a movie. However, it needs to be pointed out that the speaker does not support Bluetooth algorithms aptX and aptX HD by Qualcomm. While this is not really an issue per se, we would have liked to listen to premium, hi-res soundtrack.
Saregama Carvaan Gold Performance
Using the Saregama Carvaan Gold is quite intuitive, which perhaps is one of the reasons, the company believes, it is suitable for the listeners who belong to the old generation. The buttons are more than conspicuous – you can even operate it without needing to carefully see them. Listeners of our grandparents’ age will find no hassles switching the Carvaan Gold on and effortlessly controlling the playback.
But this is not the only way to control Saregama Carvaan Gold – there is an IR remote control provided with the unit that has exactly the same buttons as you will see on the device. However, you will need to be in the proximity of the device for the remote to send out signals without interruptions.
Turning on the Saregama Carvaan Gold for the first time will take you to the Artist mode by default. It plays songs from the top Bollywood artists in volumes. For example, all songs by Kishore Kumar will play before the next artist is selected. You can change the mode within the Saregama stream – one is Artist, which we just mentioned, next is Specials, and the third is Geetmala. The Specials mode plays a curated playlist of Bollywood songs that have been quite popular and highly acclaimed. The third mode is just a refresher for those who have grown up dedicating most of their time on radio listening to Binaca Geetmala hosted by Ameen Sayani.
You can also listen to the local FM radio stations by switching to the eponymous button. The antennas bundled with the package will help you tune the radio stations better, especially indoors, which is where you will most likely keep the unit. While the sound quality is quite to similar to how the device handles preloaded and Bluetooth-streamed music, there is some distortion sometimes while it is being charged.
The AUX port and the USB port can be used for wired transmission of music onto the device, although the latter can double up as a charging port for another device such as a phone.
The battery life on the Carvaan Gold is rated for up to five hours, which is pretty much what we got in a single charge. The battery takes about 1 hour to fully charge.
The Saregama Carvaan Gold can also be controlled using an app, which essentially only lets you select music or artist as per your preference. The companion app, available on both Android and iOS platforms, lets you connect to the device over Bluetooth and does not require an Internet connection. We used the app quite a bit and then finally gave up – the reason being its poor implementation. Firstly, you need to create a Saregama account to access the library. If that goes well, the app needs at least three turns to properly let you log in.
Moreover, the whole idea of listening to a radio (or a jukebox) is to forget preferences or curation, only to be surprised by the song that’s randomly played. The app takes away that power from the radio and hands it over to you. For us, the remote control and the buttons were most serviceable to operate the Carvaan Gold.
Saregama Carvaan Gold Verdict
For your parents, grandparents, and other close ones who love to relish old classics and just cannot get enough even in the era of affordable music streaming, Saregama Carvaan Gold seems to be a good choice. That said, the song collection and Geetmala make for the entire USP of the model, which you will also find on the previous-generation models, as well as the Carvaan Premium that is half as much its price.
Retailing at Rs 14,990, the Saregama Carvaan Gold, surely, comes with a hefty price tag. Yes, the sound quality is better than the previous model, but not very different from the Carvaan Premium. But it solely banks on the nostalgia that the old-generation has so many memories attached to, and that’s priceless.