Dhe electrical appliance manufacturer Braun can look back on a 100-year success story. Founded by Max Braun in Frankfurt-Bockenheim in 1921, Braun first developed radio receivers, later portable radios and, during World War II, two-way radios.
During the reconstruction in the 1950s, Braun’s sons took over the company and realigned it. With the establishment of the “Department of Design”, they laid the foundation for a new design strategy that pursued a style that was as simple as it was functional.
In the following years, well-known designers such as Herbert Hirche, Wilhelm Wagenfeld and, last but not least, Dieter Rams were in charge of the design. Today Braun’s product range includes razors, kitchen machines, pocket calculators, because on March 31, 1991 Braun stopped manufacturing its audio products.
“The consumer electronics market is characterized by ruinous cutthroat competition worldwide. The Japanese manufacturers in particular have shortened the project cycles for hi-fi components alarmingly. This increasingly risky development would mean having to soften certain principles of the Braun design philosophy. Braun will no longer support this development. Braun Hi-Fi will become history, ”was the statement.
But after a break of almost 28 years, there are audio devices from Braun again. With the LE series, the company is transporting the creative pioneering spirit of earlier designers into the present. “Computer picture“Tested the speakers.
Braun’s LE series is nothing new
Braun’s new LE series is actually not new at all. On the one hand, it is clearly inspired by a loudspeaker series of the same name from 1959, and on the other hand, the LE boxes have been around since the beginning of 2020. They appeared in the design store of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Due to the coronavirus, series production was a long time coming. Now the loudspeakers are making it onto the market to celebrate the brand’s 100th anniversary.
Exciting detail: It is not Braun who produces the boxes itself, but the English digital radio specialist Pure, to whom Braun gave the reins under license. This is a reason to be happy for music enthusiasts and aesthetes alike.
Braun LE series: Not that complicated at all
The loudspeakers in the LE series are available in three sizes: LE01, LE02, LE03 are as simple in their design as their names. White or, if desired, black aluminum surrounds the flat loudspeaker body, which, depending on the model size, accommodates up to two woofers and three tweeters.
On the top of the LE01 and LE02 there are eight buttons for volume and music control, for coupling via Bluetooth and for activating the integrated voice control. For reasons of space, the LE03 does not have the buttons for jumping tracks. A fine-meshed net made of black textile protects the loudspeaker membrane from damage, and in the upper right corner under the fabric there is a minimalist display made up of four LEDs.
With separately available stands, the larger LE boxes can be set up anywhere in the living room, and they are at least as effective on the supplied metal feet on a sideboard. Only the LE03 does not need a stand thanks to its compact dimensions.
The processed material feels pleasantly high quality, the keys have crisp pressure points. During the test, you caught yourself lost in thought running your fingers over the matte surface. Despite the proximity to products from the 50s and 60s, the LE by no means look old-fashioned – they rather exude a subtle retro flair, but at the same time look fresh and timeless.
So not wired at all
The already classic design of the LE loudspeakers encases modern technology. Braun supplies a full-fledged speaker system including WiFi and Bluetooth connections, Apple AirPlay, Spotify Connect, Google Assistant, Chromecast integration and multi-room connection.
You can connect two speakers of the same size wirelessly to stereo pairs and query information such as the weather or the news. Thanks to the “Braun Audio App” setting up the speakers is child’s play. Afterwards, users adjust the bass and treble and let the software adapt the sound to the placement in their own four walls.
Those who prefer it wired can connect a mini jack. There are no USB slots. Keyword cable: Without a cord to the socket, nothing works, the LE have no battery. What doesn’t matter to the big representatives would have been worth considering, at least with the handy LE03. After all, even the small loudspeaker does not need a plug-in power supply; all three Braun boxes have integrated power supplies.
Not at all wrong
While the equipment of the three speakers is largely identical, the size and number of the built-in speakers vary. The front runner is the voluminous LE01, which impressed in the test with its rich and warm sound, present voices and its clean and powerful bass. However, the stereo image remains rather compact with one copy.
This also applies to the LE02. It is characterized by a very balanced and unadulterated sound, the bass sounds a little punchy, but very clean. The comparison, for example, with the Sonos Play:5 the LE02 decides for itself.
The LE03 is a mono speaker; due to its compact dimensions, the bass is much slimmer, but remains clean. The little one plays voices unadulterated, highs are very pleasant and not scratchy.
Here, too, the comparison to Sonos is slightly in favor of Braun, the LE03 sounds clearer and more complex than a Sonos One. This is easily enough on the kitchen counter, while music lovers with a weakness for fine design have a large LE01 pair in the living room.
Conclusion: With the LE series, Braun is now returning to well-tried philosophies in the audio sector after a long break and is still implementing them excellently – fortunately: the technical know-how of the manufacturer Pure harmonises perfectly with Braun’s timeless aesthetics, which are never just but always looks modern.
The result is loudspeakers that make a statement for the eyes and ears. The clearly designed WLAN boxes fit the traditional Braun ethos: “Less, but better” – and thus fit into the list of pioneering products.
Strengthen: Great, balanced sound, comprehensive, wireless connection, beautiful design in the Braun tradition
Weaknesses: only one stereo input available