A swish AirPlay-toting soundbar clad in cashmere - and you'll need a lot of cash to buy one
The solidly built Lounge is without doubt one of the biggest soundbars ever made, and with its Italian cashmere jacket, certainly one of the most surprisingly clad. While designed to make an impact thanks to its maximalist proportions, it has a minimalist approach to connectivity, with a solitary input (for optical or analogue line-in) complemented by AirPlay, Android and Windows wireless streaming. There is just one function button, which gently pulses various colours according to its status.
The idea is to get the Lounge on to your wireless network, although it can create a direct Wi-Fi connection to AirPlay and DLNA compatible devices using PlayDirect in the absence of a network. Setting up and operating the Lounge using the free Libratone App, which gives you access to seven DSP modes, is a cinch.
The Lounge’s performance certainly doesn’t disappoint. It has energy in abundance and effortlessly filled my room with its well-imaged soundfield. The rehearsal scene in Super 8 on Blu-ray – before the train crash – is a fine example of its excellent work. The wind howls yet every subtle detail is clear, from the rustling of paper and the buzzing fly to the creaking floorboards and the dialogue between Alice and Joe. Then, there's the rumble of the approaching train and the eventual impact. Here, the clanging metal and multiple explosions are delivered with intensity – low frequencies are tightly controlled and seamlessly blended with the lower mid-range. It’s hard to believe there’s no sub squirrelled away behind the TV, such is the power on offer.
The Lounge breezes through everyday TV viewing, brilliantly improving dialogue. Michael Jackson’s This Is It Blu-ray, meanwhile, shows the 'bar's ability with music, allowing you to remember what an incredible voice Jacko had. Streaming music from an iPhone over AirPlay is equally impressive – some soundbars and speaker docks simply reveal the lack of detail in compressed music, which makes them tiring, but the Lounge finds warmth and clarity.
For sure, the Libratone Lounge is pricey (£500 more than Sonos' PlayBar) but it’s a delight to own and operate, and underneath its woolly coat is an electronic wolf with real bite. It sounds superb. No HDMI, though.
Price: £1,100 Approx
Highs: Powerful, detailed sound; top-notch design; simple operation
Lows: Expensive; sheer size may be awkward; no HDMI connectivity
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