Braun Audio: iconic design in the service of sound

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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. 

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The Braun LE 2020 range of connected speakers: in the foreground on the left is the Braun LE02 speaker, on its right is the Braun LE03 and in the background is the LE01.

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. 

The Braun SK 4 phonograph and radio set is on display at the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art).

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. 

Braun’s design department was officially created in 1961 and Dieter Rams remained its head designer until 1995!

“Good design”

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. 

Dieter Rams sitting at his desk. On the back wall is a Braun audio system on Vitsoe 606 elements that he designed for the furniture brand.

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.

The design of the Braun T3 portable radio was the inspiration for the iPod.
On many levels, the design of the Mac Pro is very much inspired by the Braun T-1000 radio which was designed by Dieter Rams.
Aluminium chassis with a perforated grill and round corners: the connection between the Braun T-1000 and the Apple Mac Pro seems obvious.
A successful design is timeless, just like the Braun LE1 speaker released in 1959 that was the inspiration for the Apple iMac and the Braun LE01 speaker.

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.

Braun LE03

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.

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The Braun LE03 speaker is the most compact model in the range of Braun LE connected speakers.

Braun LE02

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. 

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Two Braun Audio LE02 speakers can be used together to form a stereo pair. When used as such, the speakers should be turned vertically.
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Like the other loudspeakers in the Braun LE series, the Braun Audio LE02 follows the aesthetic codes of the late 1950s while incorporating the latest audio streaming technologies.

Braun LE01

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.

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The Braun LE01 speaker is the biggest speaker of the range. It can be directly placed on a shelf or mounted on its stainless steel support.
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Like the Braun LE02, the Braun LE01 speaker can be used by itself (turned horizontally for stereo sound) or paired with a second speaker to form a stereo pair (turned vertically, each speaker plays a single channel).

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.

It is thus possible to have a Braun LE02 speaker in the kitchen, a Braun LE01 in the living room and a Braun LE03 in the bedroom, for example.

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.


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