• Review: Libratone Live AirPlay speaker

    The Libratone Live is one of the new breed of speakers on the market utilising Apple’s AirPlay technology, and tossing cables aside in favour of Wi-Fi connectivity.

    The stylish speaker – which stands 47cm tall, 19.5cm wide and 15cm deep and weighs a sizeable 6.5kg – is a sleek combination of wood, Italian cashmere wool and satin chrome.

    Available in Blood Orange, Lime Green, Vanilla Beige, Slate Grey and Blueberry Black, the speaker takes a triangular prism form with a sturdy chrome handle.

    Forsaking buttons to play/pause and skip music and adjust volume – using only one button at the top of the system to connect devices – the Libratone’s slick design takes priority over practicality at times, with a complete reliance on the connected device to control the speaker’s music and volume output.

    The unit isn’t designed to be portable – despite the chrome handle – requiring a constant connection to a power point; however moving the speaker from room-to-room is very easy.

    The Live speaker’s AirPlay technology, enables access for all devices connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the speaker. While it takes a little time to set up, the result is fantastic – no matter the number of devices connected at any one time.

    Any device connected to the wireless network will have access to the Libratone Live speaker, allowing multiple users to play their music at the touch of a button.

    For those willing to fork out a bit more for multiple Libratone systems, the multi-room feature allows up-to six speakers to connect to one device.

    The speaker boasts 360 degrees of sound output using Libratones patented FullRoom technology. The design allows the audio to travel in all directions, rather than just linear – as is the case with most speakers.

    The Live’s sound is bold and clear, and handles low- and mid-range frequencies competently, with the help of a 50W, 5in bass driver; two 25W, 3in midrange drivers and two 25W, 1in ribbon based tweeters.

    The powerful bass thumps its way through a variety of music genres to the benefit of those listening, with beautifully clear high-end audio rising above the rich mid-range tones.

    However, turning up the Live’s volume gives a more restricted sound. Libratone’s use of digital signal processing flattens the audio range at a high volume to reduce distortion. A result that is emphasised at closer distances, but less noticeable the further you are from the speaker.

    The free Libratone application for iOS is a necessary companion for the Live speaker to reach its optimal capabilities. Users can alter the speaker’s name and setup the device on a Wi-Fi network from within the easy-to-use app.

    The most useful feature is the ability to enter data on the speaker’s position in a room. By imputing the distance between the speaker and the adjacent walls, the unit alters its output to fill the entire space of a room.

    The difference is immediately apparent. While this would have to be re-adjusted if the speaker is moved, it is well worth the time.

    If you do not have a wireless network available – or your network experiences droputs, you can connect your mobile device via a 3.5mm port at the rear of the speaker, although this neglects to utilise the Live’s greatest feature.

    In a nutshell...

    At $799.95 the Libratone Live is one of the most expensive speakers in its class, and despite its beautiful design and powerful audio, this will disenchant many potential buyers. However ,with its quality full room sound, AirPlay connectivity and dynamic audio range, this speaker is definitely worth a look, and listen.

    Libratone Live

    PRO: Beautiful design; full room sound; AirPlay; powerful audio
    CON: Expensive
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