Carvaan Musicbar CBWY121 Review: A budget soundbar with built-in songs, average sound output

by newsup

The Saregama Carvaan speakers have carved out a nice niche for themselves, offering users some of the best Indian classics along with pretty decent speakers. I personally have the Saregama Carvaan 2.0 Gold which comes with Harman Kardon speakers and I am very happy with it. The beauty of the Carvaan speakers is that they are affordable and generally sound pretty good as Bluetooth speakers as well. With the Saregama Carvaan Musicbar, the company has tried to offer users a soundbar that can sit below their TV and play some of their favourite classic music with the push of a button. Priced at Rs 6,990, the device is targeting those looking for an affordable soundbar with classic tunes bundled in. Does the soundbar deliver you the best of both worlds or are you left wanting more?

Saregama Carvaan Musicbar​: Key specifications at a glance

Subwoofer: Yes (6.5-inch)
Audio Inputs:  HDMI ARC, Coaxial in, USB, Bluetooth 5.0, FM and AUX-In.
Soundbar Dimension: 900mm x 80mm x 80mm
Subwoofer dimensions: 250mm x 316mm x 300mm
HDMI Input: 0
HDMI Output (Audio Return Channel): 1
Drivers: 4 x 2.5-inch drivers
500 preloaded songs
sound output: 120W 
Price: Rs8,499

Saregama Carvaan Musicbar​: ​What’s in the box

In the box, you get the soundbar, subwoofer, along with the power cable and power brick, and HDMI cable. You also get a wall mount along with tabletop feet that you can install separately. The power brick is external.

Saregama Carvaan Musicbar​: ​Build and design

The Saregama Carvaan Musicbar has a very simple design and when it comes to soundbars; a functional design is always preferable. It has a simple rectangle form factor with curved edges. The top is plastic with a slightly textured finish so it does not look cheap. The front drivers are covered by a non-removable grill. The soundbar isn’t very large and will fit comfortably under a 50 or 55-inch TV. 

Saregama Carvaan Musicbar has a simple design.

The soundbar is accompanied by a subwoofer which has a duct at the back and a side-firing 6.5-inch driver. The driver is on the right of the subwoofer. The subwoofer connects to the soundbar via a wire 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 stuck to the soundbar and unless you plan to use FM, you can leave the antenna stuck at the back. 

The soundbar comes with an external power brick.

While the design of the soundbar is nice and the build acceptable, there are two things that are a slight hindrance. One is the fact that the power brick is external, which means you will have to make space 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 get two feet that you can screw onto the bar and separately stick the rubber feet that hold the bar in place on a table. The quality of the two plastic feet and the screws felt cheap and it was a task screwing the feet in. 

The subwoofer has a simple design with a rear facing duct.

Saregama Carvaan Musicbar​: Ports and connectivity

For its price, the soundbar has a handsome number of connectivity options. For wireless, you get FM and Bluetooth 5.0. You also get a 3.2mm AUX input, USB port, coaxial and HDMI ARC. For the duration of this review, we used the bar connected to the TV using ARC. You get an HDMI cable in the box with the soundbar which is nice.  

The Saregama Carfvaan musicbar comes with ample connectivity options.

Saregama Carvaan Musicbar​: Setup

Setting up the soundbar is extremely easy. Place the soundbar under the TV or wall-mount it (your choice). Connect the subwoofer to the bar via the cable. Connect the soundbar to the TV via the HDMI cable and ensure your TVs audio out is set to HDMI ARC. Switch on the soundbar and you are good to go!

Saregama Carvaan Musicbar​: Performance 

Before we delve into the performance, know that the biggest USP of the Saregama Carvaan Musicbar is the fact that it comes preloaded with 500 evergreen hits including the likes of O Mere Dil Ke Chain, Do Lafzon Ki Hai Dil Ki Kahani, Tum Aa Gaye Ho Noor Aa Gaya, Ek Ajnabee Haseena Se, Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai and so many more that I was transported to the era when I heard these songs for the first time with my parents. So, the 500 preload songs are a boon, but there is a bit of a downside here as well. There is no display on the soundbar to let you know what song is on and you have to refer to the provided booklet of a list of songs to navigate. This is a real bummer as one of the most convenient features of the Carvaan speakers is the display that lets you see which song is playing. 

Speaking of the sound quality of the speaker for the built-in songs, it is average at best. Some of the songs sound tinny at high volumes and the presets don’t do much to help. Playing the same classical song via Bluetooth led to a slightly better quality which has led me to believe that the compression used to fit 500 songs on this bar is the reason for the lacklustre experience with the preloaded songs. 

The soundbar has 4 drivers and 2 passive radiators.

Speaking of sound presets there are four you can choose from – music, movie, vocal and 3D. 3D kind of enhances the bass and makes everything louder. It also adds artificial bass to some songs. You can also control the bass and treble via the soundbar remote control. 

Coming to music, the sound signature feels all over the place. A song like Over and Over by Hot Chip has a thumpy bass to it and the true bass was only felt when we switched to the 3D audio preset, while on the music preset, the bass felt slightly lacking. Once again, the lack of a display meant I didn’t clearly know how much of the bass and treble I controlled via the remote control. 

Saregama says that in their testing they found that their target audience preferred a bass-heavy sound output. If you are considering this bar I highly recommended visiting a store and experiencing the bar before making your purchase decision. 

The soundbar has physical controls up top.

A song like Take my Breath by The Weekend surprisingly sounded just right on the music preset and if you missed some of the bass, switching to the 3D preset ensured this worked fine. But then again, it sounded good around the 40% volume mark. Going above this made the audio quite tinny and muddled. 

Moving over to movies and TV shows, the vocals are clear but there is no distinct sound separation or channel shift. While the audio is acceptable, the only downside is that the soundbar can get tinny and the sound output suffers at high volumes. But kept at the 30 to 40% volume mark, you can get decent sound output from it. 

The soundbar and subwoofer connect via a cable.

We even played some Ghost of Tsushima on the bar and once again, up to 40% volume and engaging the 3D preset, you can get an enjoyable experience. Increase the volume and you are met with some shrills. 

Overall, it’s hard to fault the soundbar for some of its performance flaws when you consider the price. Kept at low volumes, the soundbar sounds average with external content. But the biggest disappointment is the lacklustre performance with the preloaded songs, especially when we managed to get some decent performance from the bar while playing songs via an external source i.e., a smartphone connected via Bluetooth. 

The subwoofer has a 6.5-inch driver.

Saregama Carvaan Musicbar​: Remote control

The Saregama Carvaan Musicbar comes with a simple remote control in the box. It is a plastic remote control with a simple form factor. The top of the remote has a rubber finish to it adding to a good grip and the buttons are quite clicky. You can switch the source, change tracks, control the sound presets and there are also dedicated controls for the bass and treble. Users can also hold the next and back button to skip and go back 10 songs.  

The Saregama Carvaan Musicbar comes with a compact remote control.

Saregama Carvaan Musicbar​: Bottom line

If sound quality is of prime importance to you and you are looking for a soundbar to compliment your TV under Rs 10,000, then you have a lot of options to choose from. There are options from Boat, Creative and JBL in this price range, but since we haven’t reviewed them, it’s hard to recommend one. What the Saregama Carvaan Musicbar has going for it is ample connectivity options, a simple design and 500 preloaded classic songs. The soundbar works acceptably if you keep the volume below 50%. At loud volumes, the soundbar can get quite tinny. Considering the large catalogue of preloaded songs, I wish the soundbar had a display to more easily navigate the built-in songs. If you are looking to enjoy the catalogue of preloaded classic songs, I recommend you check out the Saregama Carvaan 2.0. Not only does it come with 5000 (yes, that’s five thousand) preloaded songs, but also has a display and comes with battery backup for you to take with you on the go.


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