Acoustic bliss in an orgasmic sense. That’s the best way I can describe a speaker to you since you can’t hear it. Audio is totally subjective. My review is based on three basic points – how it looks, how it sounds, and how it compares. The Libratone Loop has already won almost every major design award in our industry so it stands to reason the accolades along with the $499 price tag means a really good speaker. Hit the jump for my review!
By far the Loop’s design is the most brazen. It looks handsome propped up with the included stand but was meant to be wall mounted. With a myriad of colors to choose from – seeing a wool covered circular object on a wall instantly changes any space into a modern setting. It’s not something you see everyday and visitors will probably mistake it for art or even an odd lamp before guessing it were a speaker. This is the epitome of Scandinavian design – minimalism with just a touch of warmth and any semblance of boldness usually comes from color.
The saucer shaped disk ingeniously hides components that generate sound belying its diminutive size. Libratone calls it Fullroom sound. In layman terms, that means sound spills out at nearly 360º. From one speaker, you can fill an entire room with hi-fi audio with a surprising amount of bass. OH GOD the bass! I love me some bass. Bass is one of the key markers of a good speaker. The Loop rumbles without rattling. The mids and highs are well balanced even with the volume cranked up. Once you get past the initial setup, you can stream via AirPlay, DNLA, or directly via USB.
It’s expensive but if you’re an audiophile – the price shouldn’t be a surprise. There are a few off-name brands that make pretty decent speakers at half the price, but for this level of engineering and quality, the only other company that competes is Bowers & Wilkins. I had a chance to play with the B&W A5 which also happens to be $499. It’s also Airplay enabled and sounds amazing. Setup on the A5 is a little more straight forward. You just download an app and push a couple of buttons and you’re done. The Libratone also has an app but requires you to mess with your wifi network. Fortunately once you set it up, you never have to touch the app again. B&W designed their speakers to optionally work as a group. You can buy multiple A5′s and control them all from one place. The Loop is meant to operate alone. Besides that one caveat, choosing between the two comes down to aesthetics. The Loop looks like modern art. The A5 looks like a very expensive piece of technology. Which would you choose?
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