Libratone | AirPlay Speaker | $ 499.95
When Apple released AirPlay, I knew it would only take a little time before manufacturers started implementing it. The Libratone speaker lineup all support AirPlay. The loop is their 500 dollar entry into the line that supports AirPlay as well as DNLA.
Frequency Response: 40 Hz – 20 kHz
Drivers: Passive 5” radiator, 4” Woofer, 2 2×1” Ribbon Tweeters
In the Box
Libratone has a very distinct design to their entire speaker line up, and that is the main feature of the speaker, the speaker covering. The speaker covers used on the Loop are made entirely out of wool that is replaceable. Initially, when you buy a Loop, you’ll have a selection of colors: magenta, navy blue, purple, black, white, yellow, red, and blue. Reviewing the black model, it does blend OK with the majority of decors. The wool, however, is a love-hate thing. I’ve had friends say they like the unique design, others absolutely hated it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder I guess.
The audio quality that the Libratone Loop offers is actually pretty good overall. The signature can be adjusted quickly and easily using the Libratone app available on the App Store. They offer your typical EQs, but also do have some adjustments that allow the speaker to alter its sound based on its location with walls, the room, etc. That’s actually quite a nice feature to have. That said, I’ve setup the Loop appropriately with the location its in (using the app) and kept it on neutral with Sound Field Expansion enabled.
The bass of the Loop is strong enough to rumble and pound quite strongly allowing a visceral effect on the low end. Impacts have good slam due to the slower speed of the bass. The sub-bass texturing that the Loop offers a hint of fluidity with very strong presence. The mid-bass punch isn’t fast and its tight enough without becoming too sloppy.
The midrange is quite balanced overall, I really can’t call it warm, smooth, or bright as it has properties of many of them. The mids have a semi-aggressive feel to them at times allowing detail retrieval to be a strong. That said, the detailing on these is actually quite good. The upper midrange is strong enough to be heard, but never really offending. Vocals can leave users wishing for more dynamics at times, but overall are clear and strong.
The upper treble does dip down a little, which makes the Loop quite easy to listen to for long periods of time. The lower treble has a well-defined snap that extends far. Additionally, it also does have an ample presence without overdoing anything. The upper treble definitely has a subtle sparkle to it with good detailing and separation. It doesn’t quite extend as high as I’d like though.
Libratone did a good job creating a nice, non-offending sound that does little wrong. I am impressed with the sound that the Loop provides and it does make a decent sound system.
Whether you are one that likes the design of the wool, or not, you can’t help to notice that the materials and craftsmanship done by Libratone is good. The wool is thick while the plastics used are strong and durable. The Loop isn’t really designed to be a portable thing, so it shouldn’t get abused in the long run. It seems built quite well and I can see it surviving a drop or two (no I didn’t test this personally).
The Libratone Loop functions on DLNA and AirPlay. If you don’t have a device that supports that, you may be out of luck when it comes to airplay streaming. There doesn’t seem to be any standard BT built in unfortunately. If you aren’t within range for a local WiFi network, the Loop does have a PlayDirect mode where the Loop itself becomes an wireless access point which is a very nice feature.
Now, if your device is part of the unlucky bunch that doesn’t support AirPlay or DLNA, then there is an auxiliary jack in the back for all your wired needs. It’s nice to have for external DACs or amps that you may want to use. There is also a USB port on the back that can charge your device. It’s also used to send WiFi information (SSID, security profiles, etc.) directly to the speaker without having to enter it yourself. It’s quite easy to setup. I do wish that Libratone would add BT to the Loop, for the wider device support and shorter signal delay.
The Libratone Loop comes in at around 500 dollars. It’s quite a pricy speaker. It utilizes a 4-driver setup, one passive. The sound quality offered is pretty good and it offers a ton of customization to make sure it you’ll enjoy it. AirPlay features are extremely easy to setup, one of the easiest, if not the easiest, AirPlay I’ve had to setup. The lack of BT may turn a few people away as music over WiFi does have a slightly longer delay.
I have to say that I was surprised with what the wool-covered Libratone Loop offered in terms of sound. The signature is quite respectable and quite a bit went into the design of the acoustics including quick tuning the sound based on its location in the room. The lack of BT was something that got to me though. The Loop is quite easy to setup and use, the fact that it does sound good makes it seem worth the 500 dollars.
I’d like to thank Libratone for the product sample.