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Braun harks back to 1959 with reimagined LE Speakers

The new LE Speakers come equipped with Google Assistant and a dedicated privacy button

Braun might be more synonymous in 2019 with electric shavers than audio equipment, but the German manufacturer is returning to its roots with a revamped take on its iconic mid-century LE speakers.

At IFA 2019, Braun showed off three new versions of its minimalist, monochrome audio system. The box-like design nods to the past, particularly the functionalist approach of classic Braun designer Dieter Rams, but the speakers’ innards are definitely modern.

The new speakers make use of Digital Signal Processing (DSP) along with ARM computing cores to optimise their sound. The company says it has used Balanced Mode Radiators (BMRs) to deliver a near 180-degree soundstage, which should make it easier to position the speakers without worrying about about the specific directions they’re facing. Subwoofers and passive radiators are also in place to give punchier bass than the speakers’ slimness might otherwise suggest.

Something that certainly wasn’t present in 1959 was the ability to wirelessly pair speakers, but the Braun LE01 and LE02 will work as integrated stereo speakers when placed landscape-wise, and can also be configured into a left-right stereo pair if two are placed portrait-wise.

With built-in Google Assistant, the speakers also work as a hub for controlling the various smart devices you might have dotted around your home. There’s also a special feature, dubbed TalkTo, which cancels out noise from the speaker so its in-built microphones can properly pick up a user’s voice. No need to bellow over your playlist for a weather update.

Intriguingly, the speaker also has a “dedicated privacy button” that physically disconnects the microphones – a bit like an ejector seat from Google. It serves a similar function to the privacy shield recently seen on the Amazon Echo Show 5.

Prices range from £1099 for the largest LE01, £749 for the mid-sized LE02, to £349 for the smallest LE03.

It has been 28 years since Braun had a foothold on audio manufacturing, and it’ll be interesting to see whether the new, digital assistant equipped, LE Speakers make a splash in the increasingly crowded pool of living room sound systems. For more news from IFA 2019, be sure to check out our dedicated page on the tech expo.

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