German audio firm Loewe has been around for a long time – 100 years, in fact. And to celebrate, it's just launched a new Bluetooth speaker and DAB+ radio combo that takes a little bit of inspiration from its very first radio, the local receiver OE333. It's called the Loewe radio.frequency in an homage to the firm's original name, Radio Frequenz Gmbh.
Loewe was founded by two brothers, Siegmund and David Ludwig Loewe, in Berlin in 1923. They made radios and the world's first fully electronic TV, which went into production in 1933, and the following year they turned a lorry into a portable TV to deliver the first live broadcast. The Ortsempfänger OE333 launched in 1926 with three tubes, two capacitors and four resistors – an early version of the integrated circuit.
A few things have changed since 1923: not just the firm's name and its location, which is no longer the faintly frightening factory below that looks like the floor manager may have been Pennywise. Radio Frequenz GmbH is now Loewe, radio has gone digital, and we can stream music from our phones to our speakers. The radio.frequency's exterior may be retro, but inside it's very much a 2023 device.
Loewe radio.frequency DAB+ radio: key specs and pricing
Let's start with the styling. It's an affectionate nod to the OE333 rather than a copy of it, which is just as well as the original is a wooden box with giant valves sticking out of it – fun, but maybe a bit much for your kitchen. The radio.frequency is a slimline radio with curved corners, and while the materials and colours – oak inserts and basalt-coloured acoustic fabric – hark to the past, you still get the key features such as an integrated display and easy access to presets that you expect from the best DAB radios.
As for the tech inside, you're getting DAB+, FM, Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C charging and up to 14 hours of battery life from a single charge. There are two full-range drivers and a bass radiator to deliver room-filling sound, and you can stick one in the bedroom to take advantage of the clock and wake-up alarm. There's even a Kensington anti-theft lock to stop retro-crazed thieves from trying to take it.
It's a good-looking thing, and while Loewe targets more premium buyers in general the price isn't particularly frightening: the RRP is £199 (approx. AU$380 – Loewe doesn't generally sell in the US), which isn't out of line with high-quality options among the best Bluetooth speakers at all, considering this is a digital radio as well.
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Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.