Built-in music, a budget soundbar with average sound output
The Saregama Caravan speakers have created an excellent niche for themselves, offering users some of the best Indian classics, including quite decent speakers. I personally have Saregama Caravan 2.0 Gold which comes with Herman Cardon speakers and I am very happy with that. The beauty of Carvaan speakers is that they are affordable and usually sound quite good as Bluetooth speakers. Along with the Saregama Caravan Musicbar, the company has tried to offer users a soundbar that allows them to play some of their favorite classical music by sitting at the bottom of their TV and pressing a button. Priced at Rs 6,990, the device is aimed at them looking for an affordable soundbar with Classic Tune. Does the soundbar give you the best of both worlds or do you want more?
Saregama Carvan Musicbar: Key Specifications at a Glance
Subwoofer: Yes (6.5-inch)
Audio input: HDMI ARC, Coaxial in, USB, Bluetooth 5.0, FM and AUX-In.
Soundbar dimensions: 900mm x 80mm x 80mm
Dimensions of the subwoofer: 250 mm x 316 mm x 300 mm
HDMI input: 0
HDMI output (audio return channel): 1
Driver: 4 x 2.5-inch driver
500 preloaded songs
Sound output: 120W
Price: Rs 8,499
Saregama Carvan Musicbar: What’s in the Box
In the box, you’ll find the Soundbar, Subwoofer and HDMI Cable, along with the Power Cable and Power Brick. You’ll also find a wall mount with tabletop feet that you can install separately. The power brick is external.
Saregama Caravan Musicbar: Construction and design
The Saregama Caravan musicbar has a very simple design and it comes in the form of soundbars; A functional design is always desirable. It has a simple rectangular form factor with curved edges. The top is plastic with a slightly textured finish so it doesn’t look cheap. The front drivers are covered by a removable grille. The soundbar isn’t too big and will fit comfortably under a 50 or 55-inch TV.
The soundbar comes with a subwoofer with a duct at the back and a side-firing 6.5-inch driver. The driver is to the right of the subwoofer. The subwoofer connects to the soundbar via a cable and that’s what we expected at this price point. The subwoofer wire is decent in length and lets you move the subwoofer around if you need to.
The FM antenna is securely attached to the soundbar, and if you do not plan to use FM, you can leave the antenna behind.
While the soundbar design is nice and the build is acceptable, there are two things that are a bit of a hindrance. One is that the power brick is external, which means you need to make room for it in your entertainment setup. The second is that the tabletop grip of the soundbar comes separately and is not attached to the bar. You will get two feet that you can screw on the bar and place the rubber feet separately on a table that holds the bar. The quality of the two plastic feet and screws seemed cheap and it was a job to screw the legs.
Saregama Caravan Musicbar: Ports and connections
For its price, the Soundbar has many connectivity options. For wireless, you get FM and Bluetooth 5.0. You’ll also find a 3.2mm AUX input, USB port, coaxial and HDMI ARC. For the duration of this review, we used bars connected to the TV using ARC. You get an HDMI cable in the box with the soundbar which is nice.
Saregama Caravan Musicbar: Setup
Soundbar is very easy to set up. Place the soundbar under the TV or wall-mount it (your choice). Connect the subwoofer to the bar via cable. Connect the soundbar to the TV via HDMI cable and make sure your TV’s audio is set to HDMI ARC. Turn on the soundbar and you’re good to go!
Saregama Caravan Musicbar: Performance
Before we get into the details of the performance, know that the biggest USP of Saregama Caravan Musicbar is that it has been preloaded with 500 evergreens hits including Mere Dil Ke Chain, Do Laafjan Ki Hai Dil Ki Kahani, Tum Aa Gaye Ho. Nur Aa Gaya, A Stranger Hasina Se, Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai and many more that I was transported to when I first heard these songs with my parents. So, 500 preloaded songs is a boon, but there are some downsides here too. There is no display in the soundbar to indicate which song is playing and to navigate you need to refer to the booklet provided in the song list. This is a real inconvenience because one of the most convenient features of the Carvaan speaker is the display which lets you see which song is playing.
When it comes to speaker sound quality for built-in songs, this is on average the best. Some songs sound small at high volume and the presets don’t do much to help. Playing the same classical music via Bluetooth led to somewhat better quality which led me to believe that the compression used to fit 500 songs this time was due to poor experience with preloaded songs.
When it comes to sound presets, you have four choices – music, movies, vocals and 3D. The 3D type enhances the alloy and makes everything louder. It adds artificial alloy to some songs. You can control the bus and treble with the soundbar remote control.
Coming to music, word signatures are felt all over the place. A song like Hot Chip’s Over and Over has a thumpy base and the real bass was only felt when we switched to 3D audio presets, during music presets, there was a slight lack of bass. Again, the lack of a display means I don’t know exactly how much bass and treble I’ve controlled via the remote control.
Saregama said in their experiments they found that their target audience preferred a bass-heavy sound output. If you are considering this bar, I recommend going to a store and experimenting with the bar before you decide to purchase.
A song like The Weekend’s Take My Breath plays amazingly well on music presets and if you miss some bass, switching to 3D presets makes sure it works well. But then again, it sounds good near the 40% volume mark. Going over the top makes the audio quite short and blurry.
Going to the movies and TV shows, the voices are clear but there is no distinct word separation or channel change. Although the audio is acceptable, the only downside is that the soundbar can be small and the sound output at high volume is damaged. But with a 30 to 40% volume mark, you can get decent sound output from it.
We even played some Ghost of Tsushima at the bar and again, with up to 40% volume and 3D presets involved, you can get an enjoyable experience. Increase the volume and you are filled with some shrills.
Overall, it’s hard to blame the soundbar for its performance errors when you consider the price. Keeping the volume low, the soundbar makes average noise with external content. But the biggest disappointment is poor performance with preloaded songs, especially when we are able to get some decent performance from the bar while playing music through an external source, i.e. a smartphone connected via Bluetooth.
Saregama Caravan Musicbar: Remote control
The Saregama Caravan comes with a simple remote control in the musicbar box. This is a plastic remote control with a common form factor. The top of the remote has a rubber finish that adds a good grip and the buttons are quite clicky. You can switch sources, change tracks, control sound presets, and have dedicated controls for bus and treble. Users can hold the front and back buttons to skip 10 songs and go back.
Saregama Caravan Musicbar: The last row
If sound quality is of paramount importance to you and you are looking for a soundbar to compliment your TV below Rs 10,000, then you have many options to choose from. This price range includes options for Bot, Creative and JBL, but since we haven’t reviewed them, it’s hard to recommend one. What the Saregama Caravan Musicbar has to offer is an adequate connectivity option, a simple design and 500 preloaded classic songs. If you keep the volume below 50%, the soundbar works perfectly. At high volume, the soundbar can be quite small. Considering the large catalog of preloaded songs, I wish the soundbar had a display so that the built-in songs could be navigated more easily. If you want to enjoy the preloaded classic music catalog, I suggest you visit Saregama Caravan 2.0. Not only does it come with 5000 (yes, it’s five thousand) preloaded songs, but it also comes with a display and battery backup to take with you on the go.