Since 1921, Braun has made a name for itself across the globe with the iconic design of its user-centered creations. This humanistic approach is closely linked to the “less, but better” concept, which is a nod to and an echo of the idea of “less is more” expressed by the architect Mies van der Rohe, which has been a guideline for designers around the world for almost a century. Braun recently came back under the spotlight with the Braun LE01, Braun LE02 and Braun LE03 connected speakers, whose design unmistakably brings to mind an iconic speaker from the late 60s.
Home appliances and radio
The history of Braun started with the production of home appliances under the direction of the company’s founder Max Braun, a trained mechanic and engineer. The company first started in the radio industry in 1929. The German manufacturer first developed detectors for radio receivers, then quickly moved on to making complete radio sets. In 1932, Braun was one of the first European manufacturers to combine a radio set and a turntable in a single device (1).
During World War II, Braun was forced to stop the production of almost all of its products, with the exception of its mechanical flashlight, the Manulux. With 3 million units produced, it was the first mass-produced Braun device. In 1944, almost all German factories had been destroyed and the company started a swift rebuilding process right after the war. Max Braun quickly realized the potential of emerging markets such as kitchens and home appliances and launched the Multi-mix kitchen mixer (3) in 1950. Around the same time period, the brand started the mass-production of the first electric razor, the S50, thus creating the basis for the company’s key departments.
A popular brand and an iconic designer
Braun’s history is tied to that of designer Dieter Rams, who was recruited by Braun in 1955 as an architect initially tasked with remodeling the offices, showrooms and bedrooms for VIP guests. As he spent time with the company’s employees, he started developing an interest in product design and began working with the technicians before quickly making a name for himself within the company. He set the first milestone of his career in Braun’s audio department in 1956 by introducing the idea of using a plexiglas dust cover, a revolutionary material at the time, for the Braun SK 4 turntable which he designed with Gugelot, another designer working for the brand.
This event was the starting point of a culture of interdisciplinary work within the company, soon followed by the creation of a permanent design team headed by Dieter Rams.
Centered around human beings, the iconic design of Braun products is carried by the desire to simplify, clarify and enhance objects used in our day to day life.
This will is embodied by the designer Dieter Rams who gave extensive consideration to what good design should be.
His answer consisted of ten principles. Good design:
- is innovative.
- makes a product useful.
- is esthetically pleasing.
- makes a product comprehensible.
- is discreet.
- is honest.
- is durable.
- is meticulous down to the smallest details.
- is eco-friendly.
- is minimal.
From 1956 onwards and under the direction of Dieter Rams, Braun was the originator of many novelties in the world of audio.
The design of Braun devices even inspired many recent devices, notably Apple products.
Braun TP1 (1959) – The first portable audio player
The Braun TP1 was the precursor to modern DAPs. This modular audio system offered flexibility and uncompromising audio quality for vinyl playback.
With its tasteful and efficient design featuring aluminum supports to hold the different parts together, its leather carrying handle, and its detachable loudspeaker, the Braun TP1 was ahead of its time. It allowed music lovers to enjoy the very first mobile audio experience and featured a design which inspired some Apple products.
Braun T1000 (1963) – First multi-band radio receiver
The Braun T1000 was the first radio capable of receiving all types of transmission waves. It was also the last portable radio ever made by Braun. State of the art technologies, beauty and precision, aluminum casing: technological complexity took the backseat to favor perfect integration in a living room and ease of use, which was in contrast the trend for radio sets up until then.
L 450/2, TS 45 & TG 60 (1964) – First wall-mounted audio system
This system released by Braun in the mid-60s provided the users with great flexibility for their audio system setup. Because of their standard size, many Braun audio devices could be wall-mounted using the Vitsœ 606 shelf system designed by Dieter Rams. The system’s modular conception and the smart cable guide system are still very relevant to this day.
The LE speaker reinvented for streaming
Braun LE1 (1959) – First electrostatic speaker available in Germany
The Braun LE1 speaker featured state of the art technology at the time. Designed to accompany the Braun Studio 2 Hi-Fi system, the Braun LE1 speaker combined revolutionary audio technology with a cabinet boasting an unprecedented design. The speaker offered a detailed sound and great clarity thanks to the use of innovative super light membranes instead of the usual speaker cones.
Braun Audio LE (2019) – Iconic design, acoustic technology and streaming functions
The Braun Audio LE range is composed of three hi-fi speakers which are the embodiment of the philosophy of timeless and essential design theorized by Dieter Rams in the 50s with the formula “less, but better”.
The Braun LE01, Braun LE02 and Braun LE03 are WiFi, Bluetooth, AirPlay 2 and Chromecast compatible. They are ideal for streaming music from a smartphone, a tablet or a computer. The integration of the Google assistant enables vocal commands for music playback and for the various connected devices in the house.
The Braun LE03 connected loudspeaker is the most compact model in the Braun LE range. This monophonic speaker features two drivers powered by a class D amplification stage. Two Braun LE03 speakers may be paired together for stereo sound.
The Braun LE02 connected speaker is the mid-tier model of the Braun LE speaker range. This stereo speaker features 3 drivers, one of which is solely dedicated to the lows, driven by two class D amplifiers and assisted by two passive radiators for enhanced bass response.
The Braun LE01 sits at the top of the Braun LE connected speaker range. It features 5 speaker drivers including two woofers, supported by 2 large passive radiators for deeper bass. The drivers are powered by three class D amplifiers and a 32-bit ARM DSP.
Braun Audio LE (2019) – Multi-room AirPlay 2 & Google Home
The speakers from the Braun LE range can use their network connectivity functions as well as their AirPlay 2 and Chromecast (Google) compatibility to easily set up a multi-room audio system.
Once each speaker has been set up in the Home (iOS) or Google Home app and assigned to a room in the house, it is very simple to stream music on one of the speakers or all of them at once.