Libratone Live Airplay Speakers - AVS Forum
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Old 08-23-2012, 11:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi fellow forum members. I was the fortunate person to win the Libratone Live on this forum. I'd like to thank Libratone for a beautiful piece of technology. They were generous enough to allow me to choose a color of my choice. The color I chose is "Blood Orange." This option is suppose to tack on an extra $100 to the cost of the speaker because this upgrades the standard wool covering to a cashmere wool.




First Impression

The packaging was very nice. Some people don't really care about the packaging but it gives a good first impression. Inside the box, the Live came inside of a carrying/protective fabric pouch.
The build quality is great. The polished aluminum handle gives it a solid feel as wells as provide a nice contrast to the soft cashmere wool covering.




The only connector that you would see on the device is the AC power cable connector and an optical/analogue 3.5mm jack. It's dual purpose jack that can switch between analogue and digital optical. For those with a Mac, your Mac is also equipped with this jack. There is a plug in the jack in the picture below to keep the dust out.



If you're going to connect this to your any other optical device, you'll either need a mini-Toslink cable or a mini-Toslink to a Toslink cable. The image below illustrates the difference between the two.



The only button you'll find on the device is the main button that is used to reset the speaker.



The provided AC power cable is covering in braided fabric. The design is definitely a work of art; simple yet functional. Due to its vertical design, it takes up very little footprint on my kitchen countertop. The Danish design essence really comes through.



Setup

Libratone really took the effort to idiot-proof the setup of Airplay. They made an instruction set that is really easy to follow. I personally think their effort is overkill. I personally wouldn't have minded if they gave me a single booklet of instructions.

Connecting to home Wi-Fi
To setup, all you have to do is to connect to the Live's Wi-Fi connection. Once you're connected, you connect to the built-in web server and configure it to be on your home network. Once connected, you're ready to rock!

iOS App
Libratone also offers an iOS app which allows you to configure the speaker further. There are two things you can configure the speaker for.



1. Room setting
a. You can specify whether the speaker will be on the floor or off the floor.
b. The distance of the back and side walls.
2. Vocalization - These are pre-configured equalizations.




Actual use
Between my wife and I, we have 2 iPhone 4's, 2 Mac Book Pros, 1 iPad, and 1 Apple TV 3. I recently upgraded the MacBook Pros to Mountain Lion OS to leverage the Airplay functionality. (In Mountain Lion of OS X, Airplay is no longer confined to iTunes.)




I bought the Apple TV 3 to use it with my home theater system so that my wife to listen to music whenever she wanted to. I connected the Apple TV to my AVR since it would provide the best sound. The downside is that now she had to learn how to use an AVR. Although I could have taught her couple steps to turn on the device and change the input, this became more challenging to teach if the remote somehow went into a different mode. You have no idea how many times I've gotten a call from her regarding my AVR. She doesn't even bother turning on the TV in the living room anymore.
With the Libratone Live, the system is always on standby and ready to receive an Airplay audio stream.

I showed my wife how to send the music to the speaker on her iPhone and her Mac.

On the iPhone and iPad, all you have to do is to select the Airplay icon and choose the speaker.


On Mac OS X Mountain Lion, there are two methods to choose Airstream.
One is through the sound setting.

The other is by holding the "alt" and clicking on the speaker.


I asked her "did you get that?" And she responded, "Do you think I'm an idiot?"

Controlling the volume is a snap. The speaker's volume is controlled by the source device volume control. This means that I don't ever have to fiddle around with the device once it is set up. It doesn't get any easier than this.



Sound Quality

For audio, I tested the sound quality using the audio sources from Pandora, and iPod app on the iPhone. There is no static or cut-offs. Since the source device is sending over digital signal and the device is decoding the digital to audio, the sound quality is as good as the quality of the source content. If you have a crappy audio source (such as from Youtube", don't expect the Live to work miracles. Garbage in, garbage out.

I'm not audiophile but I can tell a difference between what sounds good and what doesn't. I have a vintage Altec Lansing portable speaker that I was using in my kitchen/dining area that is now replaced by the Live.

The sound quality difference is a night and day. I shouldn't be comparing the two but this is what I have as a reference. My old speakers sounded hollow while the Live sounds full. The mids and highs are the speaker's strength. The sound is clean and crisp. The lows were full but did not thump much. But I figured this would be the case since the low end of the frequency response is 45 Hz.

Max volume on the Live wasn't ear piercing loud. My wife and I listen primarily to Jazz, Lounge, Classical, and some pop. I was comfortable to listen to the speaker at 60% max volume.


Summary

The Libratone Live is a great dedicated audio device that delivers what it promises. It not only looks great but also sounds great. Everything is delivered in a simple package that is easy to use. There is no wires to hassle with since it is an Airplay device. All you have to do is to connect the power cable. If you have an external device that doesn't use Airplay, you can still hook it up to the 3.5mm analogue/optical input. But if you have iPhones, an iPad, and Macbook Pros like me, you will never be using the 3.5mm jack.

Once again, I'd like to thank Libratone and the staff at AVSforums.
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