(Credit: Timothy Fernandez/CNET Asia)
Libratone is a small company from Denmark that specializes in making wireless speakers. The first speaker launched by the company, the Beat, utilized a proprietary wireless transmission standard and required the use of a 30-pin dongle for Apple devices or a USB transmitter to stream music from a computer.
The company’s latest speakers, the Live (read the hands-on here) and Lounge, use Apple’s AirPlay streaming standard, which is compatible only with iOS devices and requires a Wi-Fi network. Like most AirPlay speakers, Libratone’s offerings have minimalist designs and few buttons. These speakers are also covered in a soft layer of Italian cashmere, which means they look less like speakers and more like a piece of fancy furniture.
The Lounge model is a lot larger than the Live, and is likely designed to sit on a mantle or an A/V rack. The benefit of this larger model is quite obviously, more power. You’ll get a larger 8-inch woofer on the Lounge for better bass extension, as well as two extra 4-inch midrange drivers. The sound bar-type design also means you’ll get better stereo separation than the monolithic Live model. You do pay a lot more for the added quality though–the Lounge will retail at S$ 1,999 in Singapore.
We were quite impressed by how consistent Libratone has managed to keep the sound across its two speaker models. You get a very similar tone, with some added bass, slightly clearer vocals and more power to fill a larger room (hence the name, Lounge). Listening to music being streamed to a Live and Lounge speaker at the same time, we could not really tell that there were two speakers playing–the sound was smooth and consistent. This should make it easier to expand the music coverage in larger homes. The bar-type design also means that the Lounge could be a good way of improving your TV audio via a 3.5mm optical digital input (that’s also present on the smaller Live model).
We found a lot to like in these new AirPlay speakers, but their premium price tags put them in the same league as fellow Scandinavian company Bang & Olufsen. The B&O BeoPlay A8, for instance, retails at a comparable S$ 2,000 in Singapore.
If you’re looking for a well-designed AirPlay speaker with some Scandinavian design flair and are unfazed by the price tag, the black Libratone Lounge is available in Singapore now. Other colors may be made available in the coming months.
About the author
Timothy Fernandez is the subeditor at CNET Asia, as well as resident movie and music buff. With a background in mass communication and photography, he decided on a career in tech writing. He’s also–secretly–an aspiring pop vocalist.