Braun Audio LE01 Premium Hi-Fi Smart Speaker Review
- Stunning high quality design and build
- Immersive and superb quality audio
- Braun App doesn't offer a lot
- No HDMI or optical connectivity
What is the Braun Audio LE01 Premium Hi-Fi Smart Speaker?
When we were offered a Braun speaker to review it was a big surprise to us that they did anything other than shavers. But after delving into it more deeply, Braun had an audio division right up until the 90s when they decided to call it a day and now, to time with the 100th anniversary of the company, the audio division is back and with a bang.
Bringing back the LE range, first produced in 1959, Braun has released three models, the LE01, LE02 and LE03. The LE03 is a small bookshelf speaker available for around £370, the £750 LE02 is a larger traditional sized speaker and the Daddy of them all, their flagship model, the huge LE01 which will set you back £1,099.00.
The LE01 is the subject of our review today and features 2 x custom designed 5.25-inch woofers, 3 x 2.5-inch balanced drivers along with a 32-bit ARM digital signal processor, Google Assistant integration plus compatibility with Apple Airplay 2. It also features room placement EQ audio optimisation and dual band Wi-Fi along with many other complicated sounding specifications. At £1,099, we have high hopes for the LE01, read on to see how it fares in our tests…..
What About the Design and Controls?
Smart speakers come in all shapes and sizes, usually dull black boxes but as we saw with the Cleer Crescent speaker we reviewed recently, occasionally they do surprise. The LE01 whilst slightly leaning towards the black box side of things, departs significantly enough from this to give you a product that is a real thing of beauty.
Featuring a beautifully designed curved edge aluminium speaker enclosure which is available in both black and white (our review sample was the white version), laser cut black aluminium rear grille and an impressive sounding ultrasonic welded acoustic cloth speaker grille cover, it looks simply stunning. Especially when paired with the stainless-steel tabletop stand.
It’s a good job it looks as good as it does as the LE01 is a huge speaker which you’ll quickly come to realise when the massive box it comes in arrives. Measuring 700mm wide x 271mm high and 99mm deep (increasing to 323mm high and 159mm deep with the stand) it needs a good-sized piece of furniture to display it on. It’s also no lightweight coming in at 10.61kg.
The LE01 features Bluetooth 4.2, dual band Wi-Fi (WLAN 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4 and 5 GHz) and a 10/100 Ethernet and 3.5mm Aux-in ports. The controls are all to the top of the unit with the usual track skip, play/pause and volume controls along with the Bluetooth pairing, action button and a mechanical privacy button to disable the microphone. Lastly when changing the volume, a small row of between 1-4 white lights appears to the front of the speaker giving a quick visual indication of the volume level.
Specifications and Features
- Woofers: 2 x custom designed 5.25-inch aluminium cone high-excursion fast-transient woofers with NdFe motors
- Drivers: 3 x full-range 2.5-inch Balanced Mode Radiator drive units
- Radiators: 2 x race track/quadratic 8-inch x 4.5-inch customised passive radiators
- Amplification: 3 x monolithic HD class-D power amplifiers
- Processing: 32-bit ARM core digital signal processor for high accuracy and low noise
- Frequency Range: 62Hz-21500Hz (-6dB)
- Resolution: 24bit/96kHz
- Wireless Standard: 802.11 b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz & 5GHz)
- Bluetooth Version: 4.2 with AAC
- Audio Input: AUX (3.5mm), Optical
- Network Connection: LAN (RJ45 Ethernet)
- Multi-room Streaming: AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast
- Supported Audio Formats: HE-AAC, LC-AAC, MP3, Vorbis, WAV (LPCM), FLAC, Opus
- Smart Features: Google Assistant, Apple Airplay 2, Chromecast
In addition to the above, the LE01 features room placement audio EQ optimisation, auto source switching, can also act as a mono speaker when paired with another LE01 unit to create a matched stereo pair and offers multi-room functionality.
The 2.5-inch drive units, according to Braun have been ‘engineered with state-of-the-art flat profile BMR (balanced mode radiator) creating a non-directional, panoramic sound stage that saturates the room in beautiful, richly layered sound’.
It should also give excellent sound at all volumes as ‘all LE speakers are carefully engineerd to deliver immersive sound and wide dynamic range that retains crystal clarity, even at very low volumes.’ Read on as we test the above claims in the next section.
Set Up and Performance
The LE01 is very simple to set up but does have a slight quirk in that firstly you need to download the Braun Audio app, run through the set up to configure the speaker’s location and confirm if it is using the included stainless-steel stand/silicone feet, optional wall mount or floor mount bracket. Once this is done you then switch over to the Google Home app to add the speaker and then return to the Braun app to complete the setup. It sounds a bit of a faff and it would have been nicer to do it all in one app but, as it is still a very quick set up, it didn’t cause any real trouble.
Once complete, the Braun app lets you also tweak the treble and bass to your liking and will tell you what is playing but other than that it doesn’t offer any real functionality. No streaming services are available via the app or any other features. It is purely to set up the device and tweak the treble and bass, which is a shame considering they are asking you to pay £1,100 for this, it would have been nice for Braun to develop an app that does it all.
The Google Home App offers slightly more functionality with support for Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and YouTube Music, but that is still not brilliant. With YouTube Music, as we found with the Cleer Crescent, if you press the ‘Play music’ option in the app it will start playing a random song but doesn’t tell you what it is or offer any way of changing it. It isn’t even synced with the YouTube Music App or the Spotify App, which only work via Airplay and the volume control does nothing if you are playing music via Airplay. It’s not a deal breaker but we would have much preferred a single fully functioning app rather than having to use two to get the best out of a device. Whether this is an iPhone issue only we can’t test as we don’t own an Android device.
The best we have ever heard...
Moving onto the audio itself and the quality is up there with the best we have ever heard, purely from the smart speakers we have reviewed, it probably is the best we have ever heard. Testing with Tidal Master, YouTube Music and Spotify with a wide range of tracks from movie scores, pop, rock and classical, the LE01 performs right at the top level across the board, it doesn’t have any issues delivering an immersive sound of any style in anything less than perfection.
The sound stage is excellent and the audio is impressively detailed even at very low volumes and at maximum volume, the level of quality is not diminished in any way. The LE01 picks up fine details from classical tracks and movie scores along with clear strong vocals and superb bass. We ‘lost’ many hours testing this beast as it is so good you just have to keep listening to whatever comes out of it.
Braun Audio LE01 Premium Hi-Fi Smart Speaker Review
Nothing fazes the LE01, with superb level of detail and a soundstage and dynamic range that really hits the places that others can’t reach. The audio EQ optimisation works well and we had no real issues of note during our testing.
The only negatives we could find is the Braun App doesn’t really do much other than initial set up and the Google Home App really isn’t very intuitive for playing music. Hopefully, if this new LE range takes off, Braun may develop a fully functioning App of its own.
If you are looking for a smart speaker with a superb quality room filling sound, a design that creates a stunning centre piece and you just happen to have £1,100 burning a hole in your pocket, then the Braun LE01 should be at the top of your list.
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