Who says a wireless speaker can’t be art? If so they have not met the new Libratone Loop – a circular disc shaped and slim profile wool clad speaker that can be wall mounted or stand upright, and on top of that deliver great sound.
This Danish audio design company has so far in its relatively young history brought us some iconic looking wireless speakers, including the heralded Libratone Live and Libratone Zipp. With the Loop they have brought a new dimension to the design, going disc shaped, offering up the possibility of wall mounting the speaker as well as to have it stand on its own on a shelve or similar. You still get the wool clad finish, replaceable in different colors for personalization.
Like its siblings, the Libratone Loop features the same FullRoom sound technology that uses the walls to bounce sound off for a more room filing experience. This experience can also be further optimized using the Libratone App. Whilst AirPlay makes it a great partner for Apple devices, it also supports DLNA, offering up streaming options from a wider range of devices, including Android devices. Included is also Libratone’s PlayDirect technology, where the Loop generates its own wireless network for you to stream over. Great for those situations where you find yourself outside your own home network.
Libratone has been able to pack in an impressive 120W RMS power output into the Loop, that includes an audio set up featuring full 2.1 stereo through a 4-inch woofer, a passive radiator, and 1-inch ribbon tweeters. As you will see from my review below, this is more than just a great design.
For those wondering about the color options for the Libratone Loop, the replaceable italian wool covers come in Passion Pink, Petrol Blue, Icy Blue, Pineapple Yellow, Raspberry Red, Pepper Black, and Slate Grey.
In some ways, the Libratone Loop reminds me of a wool clad smaller version of another great Danish designed AirPlay speaker; the B&O BeoPlay A9.
Libratone’s danish designer speakers are not to everyone’s liking, but I can’t help but love the look and feel of the Loop. From the shape to the wool clad finish, they just stand out from a market crowded by very traditional black box style speakers, making the Loop more than just a wireless speaker, but also a design piece, or even art (the wool clad front could be your canvas). It does not feel like Libratone have skimped on quality when creating the Loop, making the relative high price tag of £399 more easy to swallow.
After spending a few minutes impressed with the look and feel of the Loop, it was time to get it set up. Simple and clear instructions were included in the box, so I decided to test out the recommended method of sharing WiFi profile with an iOS device. After a few attempts pressing the only two buttons at the back of the unit, nothing popped up on the iPad, so it was time to test with the Libratone app instead. I ended up in the troubleshoot section of the Libratone website before i finally got the Loop set up on my home network. It was not the easiest of AirPlay set ups I have been through, but at least the website had information to help with most issues you could experience. Since the initial connection issues I can happily report that the connection has been stable, and so far I have not experienced some of the streaming interruptions commonly associated with many AirPlay speakers. The Loops also supports PlayDirect, allowing you to bypass any home wireless network and connect your device directly to the Loop. Switching between WiFi connection and PlayDirect is done using two buttons at the back of the unit.
The quality in design and build is also followed up in the audio department. A lot of attention seems to have gone into the overall creation of the audio for the Loop, given its relatively thin profile. Whether you choose to hang it on the wall with the included wall mount, or have it standing on the floor or on a shelf, you can use the Libratone app to help the Loop adjust its sound according to placement, distance from walls etc. Libratone has also cleverly used ribbon tweeters, traditionally found in more expensive systems, instead of dome tweeters, producing some very clear highs. While producing an impressive level of bass performance for its size and shape, the Loop is not for the bass lovers out there, as the sound is more geared towards the treble side, giving good emphasis to amongst others vocals and strings. Again, you can use the Libratone App and its DSP control to select an audio profile that boosts the mids and lows should you find the sound too top-heavy.
Despite being a single speaker system, the Libratone FullRoom technology delivers a wide soundstage that works great in a small to mid-size room. My advise is to take advantage of the DSP controls in the app, as configuring it for the right set up does make a difference to the audio experience.
- Stand out design with its replaceable wool covers
- Overall great sound, with strong performance by its ribbon tweeters
- FullRoom technology delivers a wide soundstage that works great in small to mid-size rooms
- Surprisingly powerful with no distortion at peak (at least not that i experienced)
- Works with DLNA compatible devices (tested with amongst other Nexus 5)
- No ability to pair two Loop’s together for true left/right stereo
- No bluetooth option (although i did not miss it)
- Some might find mids- and lows a bit light
Despite its minor issues and limitations, I can’t help but love the Libratone Loop. For me it delivers in heaps where it matters the most; design and audio performance. The Loop looks great and sounds great, making up for the relatively high price tag compared to some of the more mainstream wireless speakers out there.