In a world where Bluetooth speaker design is dominated by sharply styled plastic and metal boxes, the August SE50 is a welcome sight. Finished in a medium brown wood effect the design is almost retro and is a little reminiscent of 1970’s and 80’ hi-fi speakers. It still manages to look modern though and will sit nicely in many a contemporary decorated room.
The front of the speaker has a cloth speaker grille hiding two 15w speakers, and the middle of the speaker has the display and control panel. It’s this control panel and display that lets the design down though – it’s just too big for the minimal information it displays.
When using the built-in FM radio the display shows the current FM frequency, fair enough (although it’s a shame there’s no RDS to display the station name). But stream Bluetooth to it and you get a large and rather pointless ‘SE50’ on the display which doesn’t serve any purpose.
The display has a standard LED digital clock style but it has a nice white soft glow which is attractive.
Built in FM radio – but no DAB
The built-in FM Tuner means the SE50 serves as a nice little radio, and the very long aerial means that reception is excellent. It’s restricted to FM only though which means that radio fans will miss not having AM or Long Wave, and in this day and age it would be nice to have DAB built-in, or at least a model offering it.
Using the radio is easy enough. There are two buttons to move up and down through the frequency range – a single press fine tunes the signal, whilst a long press moves to the next station. Pressing the ‘Mem’ button saves the current station to the currently selected memory preset (you need to select the preset first), and the ‘preset’ button cycles through the 10 channel presets.
Easy Bluetooth connectivity
Connecting to the August SE50 through Bluetooth is easy enough – simply press the pair button on top of the device and you’re done. If you can’t connect with Bluetooth there is also an auxiliary (headphone) lead supplied so you can connect from the headphone socket on any device into the boombox.
As mentioned, the display shows a rather pointless ‘SE50’ when connected to Bluetooth or Aux which is a shame – something else (or even nothing) would be preferred.
Retro looks but modern sound quality
If the styling has a retro look, the sound quality most certainly isn’t. With 15W per channel it’s not a boombox that’s going to give room filling sound, but it’s pretty decent and will be enough for where and how it will actually be used.
Overall sound quality is good – again it’s not going to blow you away but it has a nice balanced feel and it doesn’t get flustered. Clarity is about where we expected – it’s fine for the money but could be better.
Although the prime reason you’ll buy the August SE50 is for the Bluetooth stereo, it’s the radio we liked best. It’s easy to use, and the slightly softer sound suited it well and made it very pleasant to listen to.
What to consider
The August SE50 does have a couple of shortcomings – the display panel is too big and doesn’t provide much in the way of meaningful information, and the device is lacking in overall features.
Why you should buy the August SE50
Despite shortcomings, we need to bear in mind that this is a device that sells for around £40 and if you’re looking for a smart looking Bluetooth speaker and decent FM radio, the SE50 is worth considering. Rating: /5