It would be fair to say that for a large number of us our primary music playback device is a smartphone and likely with earphones. Gone are the days of dedicated music systems, or even having our PC as a primary music device. Of course there are times when it is good to have some more public playback and given the capabilities of our smartphones, and home networks, having wireless playback is very much an option available to us. Today we take a look at an interesting product in the wireless speaker marketplace in our Libratone Loop Review.
Libratone Loop Review – Packaging and Bundle
A key to the target market for the Loop is given away by the package, it certainly takes inspiration from Apple in its minimalist design. We get a nice clear image of the product on the front and some key feature info around the sides. Inside the box we find the speaker wrapped in a fabric bag and suspended in polystyrine with the bundled items in a seperate area on top. Interestingly that top section has a quick start guide stuck in so it is visible as soon as we open the packaging. Then also included we get a stand, wall mount, documentation and a mains cable.
Libratone Loop Review – The Speaker
The Loop is shown above and to give some feel for the size it measures 33.3cm across and it is 8.3cm at its deepest (the centre) weighing 2.7kg. On the front we have a control area (Mute/wake/sleep/volume) and surrounding it a fabric cover. We can remove that with alternate covers available from Libratone. Flipping over the speaker we find a couple of extra buttons, mainly used for sync tasks, a 3.5mm audio port for connecting an audio source. USB for connecting Apple devices and a power input. The small round hole above the power input is used for adding our desktop stand and the grey port at the top is used for the wall mount.
After removing the cover we see a little more of the design of the Loop. In terms of the specs we have a 4inch woofer, passive radiator and 2×1″ ribbon based tweeter. The frequency response is 40-20000Hz with max outpput of 99dB SPL/1m with our amp supporting 120w total.
Libratone Loop Review – User Experience
In terms of support for music playback we have AirPlay for Apple devices (as well as PlayDirect) and DLNA for the rest of the world. All recent iPad and Phones work without issue (as long as they are on 4.3.3 or above) and on the iOS front we need OSX Mountain Lion and a iTunes 10.2.2. DNLA is of course much more widespread so Windows Phone, Android, Windows, pretty much all just work. Of course we dont need to worry about all sorts of Wireless setup we can use 3.5mm audio from any source.
For those who do want to use AirPlay (as an example) we hold down the two back buttons to enter setup mode with the idevice connected via USB. Then we watch for “Share Wi-Fi Settings” to appear on screen. Press Allow, and the Loop reboots. The its select our music on the device and then press Airplay, choose the Loop and its time to listen. Very simple. There are other alternate ways on Apple… but why would you?
Taking the PC as an example of how to connect, that too is reasonably simple. We hit the Setup keys on the Loop, then browse Wi-Fi networks from our PC, connect to the speaker which will now be listed as if it was a router and then go to our browser and enter the IP address 192.168.1.1. That brings up the Setup page where we tell the Loop our home network details so it can sign in and then show as an available media device in applications such as iTunes. Again all very simple.
Any other setup required? We can download hte Libratone app (iOS and Android) to update the firmware and tweak the sound profile but that is an optional step. Or if we want to factory reset hold the back and front buttons together but thats about it.
In terms of audio quality the Libratone Loop was pretty impressive and it feels very solid in terms of build quality. The Loop offers plenty of volume for a unit of this size, easily enough to fill a large room in most houses, and the bass is strong with high quality mid tones. At higher volumes the trebble can feel a bit sharp but few will go to that level under normal circumstances and backing off a touch solves this minor issue.
Summary: Good quality sound, flexible arrangement for stand or wall mount and easy set-up win the Libratone Loop our recommended award.