I grew up listening to my parent’s grand collection of vinyl. I still remember the magic it was to turn on the record player (ours this amazing Telefunken one, wooden panelled and all). Between my Mom’s “Exercise With Gloria” LP and my own “Sesame Street” ones played our faves – Indian film music. From my Dad’s obsession with the classics from Pankaj Mullick and KL Saigal to my Mom’s affinity for her youth years including the romantic numbers by Lata Mangeshkar and Rafi to my own love for the peppy Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle numbers, despite living halfway around the world in the suburbs of America, I was right in the middle of Bollywood. I learned to speak Hindi by singing along to these tracks.
So when technology moved from LP’s to cassettes to CD’s to downloads to now streaming, it seemed every few years, that experience of enjoying those songs, that evergreen era was seemingly becoming more and more difficult. Additionally, expenditure wise, keeping up with the same collection became a chore. So it was a bold move when Saregama introduced their Carvaan line. Risky by most accounts, the music label’s entry into manufacturing hardware was actually genius. With older audiences getting tired of changing technology trends, having a one-stop electronic device without constant updates was perfect. Fixed price for a fixed number of songs in a user-friendly design was a perfect option.
But like every first version, there were key components missing. So it’s an absolute delight to now have Carvaan 2.0 (Rs. 7990) and Carvaan Gold (Rs. 12990). Still pre-loaded with over 5000 classics, the new version has Wi-Fi connectivity allowing users to access a plethora of audio podcasts, all curated in house by Saregama. With one of the largest libraries of songs ranging from Hindi cinema to classical to devotional songs and even regional – it’s a welcome addition to have a range of music assorted in this way, permitting the label to actually add new content on a daily basis. The company plans to increase the number of stations into the thousands in the coming months. In essence, what started as a one-stop-shop for a select number of classics has now become its own unlimited streaming service.
While the USP will remain that over 5000 songs are accessible without internet or any connection, the 2.0 adds a level of sophistication that changes the new-age boombox from just being an older person’s go-to speaker but a family affair. I easily was able to connect my iPhone to the speaker via Bluetooth and I could use the speaker to play my Spotify playlists. By allowing this, I don’t have to worry about creating new playlists of songs Saregama has already curated for me but I can use just use one speaker for all my musical needs.
The rechargeable battery lasted surprisingly long (more than 6 hours on one charge) and between the aforementioned Bluetooth, they’ve also included USB, Aux-In and even AM/FM radio! While for some the feel of the device may feel a bit meh, I kind of like the retro boombox feel, especially now that it allows me to use modern technology alongside it.
By downloading the Saregama app, they’ve even simplified connecting their library of music to the stereo.
While I’m still not the greatest fan of the sound quality despite the presence of Harman Kardon, for a majority of the tracks, the speaker does do justice. In fact, for many classics, you almost feel like you are listening to the radio or that old LP. That familiar, comforting feeling definitely is the special ingredient of nostalgia that has worked wonders for Saregama.
Capitalizing on that, they’ve also recently launched the portable version – the Saregama Carvaan Go which makes it easy to travel with wherever you go. Weighing only 88 grams, it’s loaded with 3000 songs and also has a built-in speaker plus you can connect earphones via Bluetooth. Contrary to the tech world’s assumption about the world, there are places still that don’t have good connectivity and being able to have an archive of music to travel with at any point in time is actually quite wonderful.
For homes where not everyone is always the most technologically advanced, Carvaan is a smart choice at an affordable price that offers an incredible list of options for every tier of user. They’ve done such a good job with the update I can’t believe I’m actually looking forward already to see and hear what the 3.0 version will offer!