I’m a huge fan of new technology. Phones, tablets, computers, cameras, you name it. But as much as I love innovation and the benefits innovation brings, there’a a byproduct of technology that I absolutely hate: cords.
I simply can’t stand them.
And yet every time I buy a new piece of technology, I’m once again forced to add to my cord collection. It’s as if companies think about every element of their new product’s design and feature set, and yet never consider how to eliminate the one thing everybody wishes wasn’t there.
And then I met Libratone.
Libratone is a Copenhagen-based company whose self-described purpose is “to liberate sound.” How do they do it? By combining kick-ass sound quality in a gorgeously designed package. Best of all, however, is that they deliver sound wirelessly. So if you have a piece of Apple hardware (computer, iPhone, iPad, etc.), any music or media you listen to on your device can be streamed wirelessly to your Libratone speakers, no cables required, with superb sound quality. It’s as simple as that.
I met Libratone when I picked up their Libratone Lounge – a large, five-speaker soundbar that I use for my television as well as my iTunes library. I loved the Lounge so much I picked up the Libratone Live, which is a smaller, more portable speaker set, still with awesome sound in a smaller package. I’m going to share my thoughts on each, detail how they work and tell you why you need one.
Read on and find out how to enjoy unadulterated wireless audio bliss.
The Libratone Lounge ($1,299)
My first forray into the world of Libratone was the Libratone Lounge, the largest of Libratone’s offerings. I purchased it for the simple fact that I hate the look of conventional surround sound setups, but I wanted more than the standard audio my television could produce. The Libratone Lounge was the perfect medium, a beautifully designed speaker that offered superb audio quality without the distraction of a full surround setup.
At one meter long the Lounge is substantial, but it’s designed in a way that makes it an accent to your home’s style, as opposed to a distraction. With key design elements including a fine Italian cashmere wool cover and a piano finish, the Lounge looks more like a piece of furniture than a speaker. You can mount it on a wall (with the included wall mount), set it on a bookshelf, media center, etc., and because it’s available in five color options (which are user changeable), you can make it blend in or stand out from your home’s style as much as you want.
Audio wise, the Libratone Lounge is brilliant. Inside, five dedicated amps power one 5-inch 50W bass, two ribbon-based 1-inch 25W tweeters and two 3-inch 25W mid range speakers, combining to offer 150W total. From there, Libratone takes audio quality a step further thanks to their patented FullRoom technology. Unlike conventional speakers that beam sound in one direction, creating a so-called “sweet-spot” in each room, Libratone’s FullRoom technology sends the sound waves multiple directions, bouncing them off walls and creating superb audio throughout the entire room. Libratone calls it 360-degree listening, and it’s fantastic at enveloping the room with sound, even in different positions. For more fine tuning, there’s even a Libratone app that lets you adjust the sound from your various mobile devices. Simply input a few basic pieces of information about the Libratone’s positioning as well as the type of music you’re listening to, and sound quality is enhanced even more.
And then there’s the wireless functionality – the single greatest feature that makes the Lounge (and other Libratone speakers) so awesome. Thanks to Apple’s AirPlay, any device that uses AirPlay can stream sound through the Libratone Lounge. Setup takes a minute or two at the most, and once completed, you can select to play sound through the Lounge on any device that supports AirPlay (which is a feature built into iTunes). For me, this includes my iPhone, iPod, iPad, and both Mac and PC computers, and all have worked flawlessly.
Best of all, it’s not just iTunes that utilizes AirPlay – there’s a wealth of apps that incorporate AirPlay, so you can send music from apps like VEVO, YouTube, and iHeartRadio straight to the speakers. On my Apple devices, browsing mp3’s online works through the Libratone wirelessly. And on my newer Mac computers, I can even opt to set audio to output to the Lounge, so all sound from the computer is sent to the speakers wirelessly.
In short, if you have an Apple device and want to listen to music wirelessly, it’s not going to get better than the Libratone. Every source that I use to music through my Apple device works with the Libratone speakers; they’re just significantly more awesome now that there’s no wires necessary to use them with my speakers.
Of course, should you wish to listen to music with wires, you can do that too. Both the Lounge and Live include a minijack, meaning you can also choose a wired analog or digital connection.
The Libratone Live ($699)
I love my Libratone Lounge, but the one thing it doesn’t offer is portability. At a meter long, it’s not exactly easy to transport around the house. That’s where the Libratone Live comes into play.
Take all the great features of the Libratone Lounge, put them in a smaller, more portable package, and you’ve got the Libratone Live.
Whereas the Libratone Lounge notes a long, rectangular design, the Live boasts an upright design, making it substantially easier to fit into a variety of spaces (its exact dimensions are H 18.5 in. x W 7.7 in. x D 6 in.). And like the Lounge, the Live boasts a gorgeous Italian cashmere cover in five color options, meaning it fits perfectly into both modern and classic home settings. I use mine in the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and office, and it fits everywhere easily (and looks great at the same time).
Inside, the Live boasts specs similar to that of the Lounge. Five dedicated amps provide power for a 5-inch bass unit, a pair of 1-inch ribbon-based tweeters and a pair of 3-inch midrange drivers, offering up a total of 150W. In terms of sound quality, the Live again offers exceptional sound from a single unit. Bass and clarity are both fantastic, as is the ability to listen anywhere in the room with little deterioration in quality. This again is thanks to Libratone’s patented FullRoom technology, which like an acoustic instrument, bounces soundwaves off walls and throughout the room, as opposed to in a linear path like other speakers.
And like the Lounge, you can also fine tune the sound of the Live with Libratone’s free app. Enter the details of your Live’s positioning in the room as well as the type of music you’re listening to, and sound is delivered based on your unique configuration.
Lastly, there’s the wireless. The glorious, glorious wireless. The defining feature of the Lounge is wireless, and the same holds true for the Live. Any AirPlay capable device works brilliantly with the Live, whether it’s your Mac/PC, iPhone, iPod, iPad, Apple TV, etc. Your entire music library from iTunes can be listend to wirelessly; apps like YouTube, VEVO and iHeartRadio can be listened to wirelessly; and any websites offering up mp3’s online can be listened to wirelessly. Chances are, if you’re listening to it on your Mac or other Apple device, you can send it wirelessly to your Libratone Lounge.
Want music throughout your house? You can even combine multiple Libratones speakers (both the Live and the Lounge) on the same network, and control each individually through iTunes.
Libratone Lounge and Live Conclusion
Ultimately, if you’re looking for superb audio quality in a gorgeously designed and crafted package, the Libratones need to be at the top of your list. They look exceptional in any setting, bass and clarity are excellent, and the wireless functionality means you can listen to music from an incredible amount of sources wirelessly. There simply isn’t an easier or better looking way to bring superb quality into your home wirelessly than the offerings from Libratone.
You can check out both the Libratone Lounge and Live in the gallery blow, or head over to the official Libratone website to check out the full lineup of Libratone products.