The Loop makes one hell of a statement straight out of the box. Compact, solid, and genuinely very good looking.
If you’re an Apple person, the Loop’s luxurious, changeable Italian wool covers and soft grey/white colour scheme will make you feel right at home. That being said, the clever thing about the speaker’s design is that it doesn’t look very much like a speaker at all. It’s more like a plush, eye-catching satellite designed by some kind of mad Scandinavian genius, both plush and stark all at once. If you’re using an audio jack or connecting via USB cable to iPhones, iPads and iPods, it’s as simple as plugging and playing, and the airplay/DLNA setup looks very straightforward – which is important, because no-one wants to spend ages trying to figure out how to set up the sexy new speaker they just bought.
You can hook it up straight out of the box with the provided duo-stand or wallmount – and from there you’re a cable and a couple of button pushes away from the promised land.
I want to preface this by saying the only way I got away with pushing the Loop to full volume output was by virtue of working in an empty office building at stupid’o’clock. When I did, everything fell off of my desk, there was a small earthquake outside, and a few more mysterious holes opened up in Russia. What’s amazing is that there is no sound distortion at all providing you’re playing decent quality audio. It pumps out enough noise to fill a small office building with crystal sharp sound, the clever bass technology ensuring a rich and deep response that doesn’t muddy the treble or the mid sound at all – it’s like standing front and center at a concert, a completely immersive audio experience in a tiny, sexy package.
In fact, when I started throwing tracks from my phone at it, a warning popped up on screen saying “WARNING – the volume might be too loud for surrounding environments”. Understatement of the year. I’m not sure who it is that lives somewhere they can get away with having this amount of volume and not be universally hated by anyone within a ten mile radius, but I envy them.
My music taste is fairly diverse – classical, rap, dubstep, black metal, electro-swing, hard rock, trip-hop, EDM – and everything just sounded better through the Loop. I use a pair of fairly expensive M-AUDIO studio monitors usually – decent enough, but subdued bass because they’re strictly flat stereo speakers for media creation – and the Loop just blew them out of the water at every turn. Which, quite frankly, you should expect if you’re dropping £400 on a speaker.
Playing Destiny and a score of other games with the Loop made me feel like I was right in the middle of the warzone. The 360 sound direction comes across flawlessly. My first port of call when it comes to putting new speakers or screens to the test is Devin Townsend’s Retinal Circus on blu-ray, a ridiculously well-mastered show, and sure enough, it absolutely shone – a completely immersive audio experience. In our time together, the Libratone Loop never once fell short or even slightly disappointed me. It’s still impressing me now. I’m still throwing new stuff at it to see if it messes up somewhere. It hasn’t. The heaviest metal, the most awe-inspiring classical sweeps, the most complex electronica. It takes it all in stride without an equaliser in sight.
One of the Loop’s biggest boasting points is the Airplay/DLNA/Spotify wireless connectivity. Through a relatively simple process you’re able to add the speaker to your wireless network and play music straight from iTunes without any physical connection to your computer.
When this works, it’s awesome. You can even set iTunes to play through multiple speakers – so I had my studio monitors and the Loop both running at the same time. It’s cool, but unless you have some quality speakers, they might just muddy up the Loop – which is more than capable of putting out all the volume you need by itself.
The wireless connection can prove slightly tricky at times but this proved to be teething troubles at best. I managed to hook it up through iTunes with relatively little hassle, but it seems to struggle when you’re frequently swapping between different audio sources. I ran a jack-to-jack from the Loop to my PS4 controller so I could dive into the Destiny beta with this amazingly potent speaker, and when I attempted to return to Airplay later, the speaker showed up in the wireless options but didn’t put any sound out even after restarting and switching it back to Airplay mode. I had to basically go through the set-up process again – finding the Loop on my network, entering its IP address etc – to get it back to working as it should. This could have just been a total fluke, or I just wasn’t understanding the instructions properly, but it seems like a convoluted way of switching between sources. It’s a minor gripe – the Airplay setup takes all of about a minute – and doesn’t impact on the Loop’s outstanding audio performance, but something worth mentioning. It worked completely as intended from that point onwards – it was just fiddly.
It also seemed to struggle with receiving audio from ‘Throw’ sources via Android phones, working fine one moment and outright refusing to play the next, especially struggling when more than one phone tries to throw music. When it works, it’s fantastic, fluid and effortless. When it trips up, it’s just frustrating – which is why for the most part the Loop temporarily sat on my desk is connected with a regular headphone jack for ease of use. I occasionally move it to Airplay for the novelty of controlling music from my laptop in a different room – a marvellous luxury you don’t even realise how much you wanted until you have it. Much like expensive toilet paper.
The real question with anything in this sort of price range is whether it’s worth the price tag, which in this case, is a seemingly hefty £400.
The answer is unequivocally yes. Even if you just view the wireless connectivity as an unpredictable but useful bonus – yes. It’s perfect for quiet nights by yourself with an acoustic album turned down low or providing a poundingly loud soundtrack to a game night. It’s just as much at home sat on a shelf filling a bedroom with quiet ambience as it is on a table filling a small building with the highest quality audio and veritably seismic bass.
The changeable wool covers are something of a luxury – but hey, what did you expect? It’s a great touch, and the more affluent among you will probably jump at the opportunity to dress your speaker up depending on where it is and what mood you’re in. The Loop I got to review came with a cherry red cover and it looks gorgeous – though a little out of place on my desk which is dominated by glossy black. They’re easy to change and ensure the Loop looks good pretty much anywhere.
The small gripes with the wifi connectivity are ultimately irrelevant compared to the outstanding quality of the product. For the most part, it worked beautifully (and there’s a lot of fun to be had by playing something full blast from another room when an unsuspecting friend walks in).
When it comes to sound and connectivity options, this is really the cream of the crop. It doesn’t get much better than this – the Loop outdoes the capacity of some of its costlier competitors by miles. It put a £500 home theater system to shame by itself. The volume button just doesn’t seem to have a rational ending point.
It goes without saying we got this to review on a generous loan, and though at the time of writing, I’ve yet to find out when it’s being collected, it’s safe to say when I hand it back over to the UPS man (who will surely arrive scored by the Imperial March) I’ll feel as though I just had a small child snatched out of my hands, or my wife of ten years has just handed me divorce papers. Okay, so maybe it’s not that extreme – but it’s a gorgeous piece of tech that excels in every area.
The Libratone Loop sets out to “free” your music, and it succeeds in every sense. Bar a few teething troubles with the wireless connectivity, it’s a simple, straightforward, and ridiculously powerful piece of kit. If you’re looking for a home sound solution, look no further. This is the alpha and omega of home audio – it has to be heard to be believed.
Wireless active speaker with built-in Digital Signal Processing and Digital Amplification. Implements Libratone patent pending FullRoom™ acoustic technology for exceptional sound performance.
- AirPlay lets you stream audio wirelessly from your iPad (3rd generation), iPad 2, iPad, iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPod Touch (5th, 4th and 3rd generations) with iOS 4.3.3 and iTunes 10.2.2 (Mac and PC) or later.
- DLNA lets you stream audio from most Android devices running 4.0 or later.
- AirPlay, PlayDirect, DLNA, USB audio (iPod, iPhone and iPad) and 3.5 mm audio minijack for analog sound.
- 1×4” woofer, 1 passive radiator and 2×1” ribbon based tweeter.
- 120W total. 2.1 Stereo system with FullRoom™
- DSP optimization and Full Digital Amplification.
- ACOUSTIC PERFORMANCE
- Frequency range: 40-20.000 Hz.
- Max. output: 99 dB SPL/ 1m.
- 100-240 Volt AC, 50/60Hz. Power consumption 40W internal power supply.
- Ø: 33.3 cm. / 13.1 inch
- Depth: 8.3 cm / 3.27 inch.
- Weight : 2,7 kg. / 5,7 poun
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.