Dieter Rams

Braun Audio Returns with the LE1 Reimagined by Precipice Design

Anyone that knows me, knows I am a huge fan of the industrial design work that Deiter rams did for Braun. His influence and the work he did for Braun can still be felt today on so many product lines by other companies like Apple. 

Braun has been absent from the audio world for more than two decades, but original stereo systems from the 50s, 60s, and 70s are still in demand. Not because they offer a superior audio experience, but because of the design and visual aesthetic they present.

The hottest Braun stereo collectible is probably the SK5 “Snow White’s Coffin” record player and radio. It is sublimely minimal in its execution with white powder-coated steel sandwiched between wooden side panels under a plexiglass case. The design was a radical departure for stereo gear when this was introduced in the 1950s. 

Snow White’s Coffin

One of my personal favorites from the Braun stereo family has always been the Braun Audio 1 from 1962. To me, it feels timeless. You can feel where it came from (the SK5) and understand the visual direction Rams was taking Braun over the next decade. 

1965 Braun Audio 1

In addition to the Audio 1, Braun introduced a set of minimalist speakers in 1959, the LE1. The LE1 is so simple in its design form. White rectangular slabs suspended on chrome tubular legs with a perforated black metal grill. The form is almost sculptural in quality and an even more radical departure from stereo systems of the day. You have to remember, in 1959 most stereo systems looked like a large wooden piece of furniture that would blend in with what was in your living room. The LE1 stands out. It’s meant to be seen as well as heard. 

The LE1 from 1959

The LE1 was the first electrostatic speaker available on the German market, the LE 1 provided a new housing for internal electronics produced by English engineering company Quad, then trading as Acoustical Manufacturing Co. Ltd. The LE 1’s electronics were based on the Quad ESL-57, producing a distinctively detailed sound that still stands up well against the standards of contemporary hi-fi systems today. At the time of its introduction, the speaker was technically and aesthetically ground-breaking. Within the Braun audio program of the late ‘50s, the LE 1 was intended to accompany the first Braun component Hi-Fi system, the Braun Studio 2. 

The 2019 LE01 Series

For the first time in 28 years, Braun is back in the audio business. Well sort of. Braun Audio is returning with a reinvention of the aforementioned LE speakers from 1959. A perfect reintroduction to the heritage of Braun Audio, the new LE Series focuses on the purity of design, purity of performance and the purity of sound Braun was known for in the past.

These beautifully minimalist speakers have been re-imagined by Precipice Design. The London-based design company developed all consumer and trade touchpoints including brand and product narratives, packaging, photography, iconography, digital assets (website, and mobile app), video content, and point of sale concepts, print catalogs, and advertising, helping to re-establish Braun in the premium audio sector.

When you look at the complete set of design materials that Precipice created for Braun you are immediately aware of the heritage of vintage Braun while positioning them squarely in the modern market place. The imagery that is used across all touchpoints echoes the minimalist aesthetic that Braun became known for, not simply in the products they produced but in the owner’s manuals, advertising, and packaging that was produced during their heyday.

As I looked at the new website that Precipice produced I was struck by how it so closely mirrored many of the Braun printed items I’ve seen from the 1960s an70s. The minimal color pallet, sparse layout, concise messaging. The same look and feel are carried over to the mobile app, and on to the packaging. With the packaging focusing on the purity of sound while focusing on the brand’s heritage. Only key information about the product shown on the packaging. The uncomplicated packaging is typical of Braun and reflects the aesthetics of the classic speaker through dark tones and a graphic of the speaker itself.

The speakers themselves are an homage to the original LE1 updated to reflect today’s taste and improved technologies. Where the original 1959 speaker would probably prove to be too large in today’s home environment, Precipice’s vision shows how the LE1 can be reimagined to fit more discreetly into one’s home.

The new speaker brings the same vision Ram’s had in 1959. A minimalist slab in white with a black grill floating above a chrome stand. The speaker is angled slightly backward, and the controls are almost invisible. Precipice also introduces a solid black version of the speaker and two additional sizes, all of which use the same visual language. 

Floor stands have been designed as well, but I have to say I don’t think they work as well. They seem rather chunky except where they have been extended and used with the smallest of the speakers.

There is no word on availability yet. I’m betting these will be available this fall for the Christmas shopping season. The product was introduced around the first of September this year so you would think they would be ready for sale by mid-November at the latest. Pricing will range from $1200.00 for the largest of the 3 down to $380.00 for the smallest.

I don’t need these, but I wouldn’t mind having them. Full information and specs are available on the Braun Audio website.

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The Animated Movement of Time.

I’ll admit it, I’m a watch guy. I like the art, craft, design, and engineering that goes into a nice looking time piece. I’ll also say that I am not a watch snob. I’m the guy that appreciates the quality of a Patek Philippe Calatrava, but also appreciates the understated design of Braun watches designed by Dieter Rams. I think the second half of that statement is the heart of it for me. The watches I own, are all fairly simple in the way they look. Nothing to flashy, nothing that shows off to much. All of this leads me to California-based designer Matt Johnston (no relation to me) who also loves watches,, clean design, and author of the website Wrist.

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Wrist began as a sideline project to help Johnston improve his illustration skills, and eventually morphed into it’s own world of animated watch graphics collaborating with other designers. Wrist is a website / project featuring animated watch illustrations modeled after some of Johnston’s favorite watches. For Johnston watches are the perfect medium for design since they combine typography, color and movement to create a functional work of art. Wrist posts a new animation bi-weekly and if you are a designer interested in collaborating with Matt, he is looking for talented help with his project.

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Found… “Braun SK 2 / PC3 – SV”

For some time now I have been lusting after Braun stereo components designed by the legendary Dieter Rams. While there are quite a few available on eBay, and through private collectors, it’s pretty rare to find one that has never been used, is still in the original box, and has all the paper work with it. Over the weekend I found a Braun PC 3-SV turntable in that very condition. Yesterday I pulled the trigger and purchased it from VintageEuroDesign on Etsy.

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I made this purchase not because this 1959 turntable is going to produce amazing audio, but because of the condition, and the fact that this is an iconic piece designed by Rams.

Braun SK 2 / PC3 – SV introduced the principle of modular components that dominated the early period of Braun audio design lead by Deiter Rams, Between 1955 – 1970. This fifteen year period can be broken into three distinct phases, with the PC 3-SV phonograph falling in the second. For a really good lesson on the history of the thinking behind the Braun systems, check out Das Programm.

WTHR, Inspired by Dieter Rams and Braun.

WTHR, you can get it here.

If you are an iPhone user that is crazy about clean design, beautiful simple user interfaces, and clean graphics this app is for you. If you are into design, love Dieter Rams designed pieces for Braun, this app is for you. If you are looking for a simpler wether application for your iPhone, this app is for you. It won’t show you storm track Doppler radar, but it will give you current conditions in a quick easy read.

Designed by David Elgena, this app just got purchased and moved to my iPhone’s home screen.

Light Up Friday Afternoon with “Rima”.

For the last 4 days I have been working on a heavy animation piece that at times makes my eyes spin. It’s partly due to the red and white patterns I am animating, and partly due to the low light that I work in. This might explain my obsession of late with lighting fixtures and lamps, although I doubt it.

This afternoon while rendering a section of footage I took some time to cruise through a number of design/manufacturing sites, and I came across this wonderful desk lamp from Dreipuls. Rima absolutely knocked me over when I saw the images and video on the Dreipuls website. The lamp is elegant, clean, and feels like something Dieter Rams would have designed for Braun back in the day.

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Rima is a unique lamp that allows the user to adjust lighting by moving light, not the lamp to the desired location. This is made possible by several series-connected LEDs which are controlled by moving rings on a processor which controls the light. The position of each ring controls the amount of power given to each LED bank within the lamp, the angle of each LED, the color of the light, and light intensity. This allows whoever is using the lamp to vary each LED group in a multitude of ways.

Braun Re-issues Deiter Rams Designed Watches.

In the mid 1970’s Braun issued a series of watches designed by the legendary Dieter Rams. That same series of watches has recently been re-issued with some minor modifications approved by Dietrich Lubs. The Braun watches were designed by Rams to provide a stylish minimalist solution to telling time, and that design aesthetic still holds up today. The watches feature three muted color systems, clean minimal lines, and solid material choices. That clean and minimal aesthetic is a Rams signature and, plays a major role in the Braun timepiece’s development. For further information on Braun watches and a complete look at the line go here, Braun-clocks.com.

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The Revo Heritage. It Looks So Good, But…

When I first saw this table top radio I got all excited. The retro styling looks like it could have been designed by Dieter Rams for Braun. A clean some what minimalist look in wood and brushed steel. I was so impressed with the images I saw I thought I’d dig up some more information, especially since this goes for $399.00. I was really hoping I’d find a review that said this was worth the money, especially since it has so many ports on the back of it. Unfortunately that isn’t the case. At the end of the day, almost every review I read had two conclusions. The sound quality is horrid with no bass, and distortion when the volume is turned up. And if you want to get good sound out of it you have to plug in a set of external speakers which kind of defeats the purpose of having a table top radio. What a shame because this thing looks so good. One of the things Revo should have thought about when designing the “Hertitage” FM and DAB radio/iPod dock is, for this kind of money it better sound as good as it looks.

Almost every review compliments Revo on the easy to use controls, and useful features, but ding it on sound quality and the fact that you have to use the online web interface on your computer to bookmark a radio station. And the dependence on the web interface partially defeats the point of having a dedicated internet radio.

I was so hoping that the reviews on this would say it sounds as good as it looks.