Li­bra­tone ONE Click

FOR In­tu­itive con­trols; clear, ex­an­sive sound; splash­proof AGAINST Needs bet­ter tim­ing; ri­vals have more de­tail

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

When we think of Li­bra­tone, we think woolly wire­less speak­ers. At least that was the case be­fore the Scan­di­na­vian com­pany adopted new fab­ric for its Zipp line. So does the new ONE Click – the flag­ship of the brand’s new por­ta­ble Blue­tooth GO se­ries – see the re­turn of the hug­gable speaker? Sadly not.

But in­ter­est­ingly it is, as Li­bra­tone puts it, ‘a cus­tomis­able Blue­tooth speaker’. That doesn’t mean you can have it in your favourite shade of blue with your name stitched on it, but the con­cept – less bling, more busi­nesslike – cen­tres on a mod­u­lar de­sign in­stead.

You've been framed

The ONE Click’s book-shaped me­tal mesh chas­sis – a de­par­ture from Li­bra­tone’s wa­ter-bot­tle form – fea­tures a re­mov­able rub­ber frame that caters for two in­ter­change­able han­dles: a hook for hang­ing on a tree, and a carry strap for, well, car­ry­ing. The frame is rel­a­tively easy to ‘click’ in and out, and fits snugly and tightly around the chas­sis.

Keep­ing it house­bound? Take a look at the ONE Style model in the range: it’s es­sen­tially the same speaker, but with a fixed fin­ger-loop han­dle frame in­stead.

The ONE Click is avail­able in dark grey, light grey or green. It feels sturdy enough to sur­vive a tum­ble, but Li­bra­tone’s ma­ter­nal in­stincts ap­pear to have kicked in any­way. The com­pany has given it rub­ber bumpers (think knee and el­bow pads) to pro­tect it from bumps and scrapes. It's splash­proof too, meet­ing the IPX4 stan­dard.

In­side and out

Hid­ing be­hind the same soft-mesh ma­te­rial that wraps the Zipp and Zipp Mini is an 8cm woofer, a 30mm tweeter and two pas­sive ra­di­a­tors. Dec­o­ra­tion is lim­ited to the in­tu­itive, bird-em­bla­zoned touch panel also found on the Zipp speak­ers. Ul­ti­mately, de­sign is very much the Scan­di­na­vian way (smart and min­i­mal­ist, not tall and blonde).

Typ­i­cally for a speaker of this size and price, porta­bil­ity heads the ONE Click’s list of high­lights. As for bat­tery life, you should get a max­i­mum of 12 hours’ play­back, de­pend­ing on lis­ten­ing vol­ume.

While the ONE Click isn’t multi-room in the strictest sense, Blue­tooth + 1 tech­nol­ogy and Li­bra­tone’s app mean two speak­ers can be linked to­gether, or one can be paired with a Zipp speaker to play in stereo.

The ONE Click doesn’t need to be cylin­dri­cal to fea­ture the brand’s sig­na­ture 360-de­gree sound. When it's up­right, driv­ers fire sound out from both sides to es­tab­lish a cen­tral spot in a room or on a pic­nic blan­ket. They pro­duce a soundželd that’s equal parts tall and wide, and cer­tainly more bal­anced and open than when the Click is laid flat.

True to form?

So pre­sen­ta­tion gets a tick. But does the ONE Click ac­cu­rately re­pro­duce Li­bra­tone’s typ­i­cally clear, smooth and rhyth­mic sound? Largely – though we have some doubts about the last of those.

The Click has the shrewd­ness to pick out de­tails and tex­tures, but punc­tu­al­ity is not its great­est as­set. The UE Boom 2 has a stead­ier pulse, strip­ping down the over­lap­ping rhyth­mic pat­terns in 65daysof­static’s Ra­dio Pro­tec­tor with more pre­cise tim­ing and a stronger sense of to­geth­er­ness. A slight hol­low­ness that taints the Li­bra­tone’s up­per bass fre­quen­cies is a bar­rier to out­right tonal bal­ance too.

Oth­er­wise, it’s busi­ness as usual. That fa­mil­iar smooth weight­i­ness hugs in­stru­ments, get­ting be­hind the song’s drums as much as its tre­bly xy­lo­phones. There’s sol­i­dar­ity and sub­stance here, and while it would be gen­er­ous to say its pre­sen­ta­tion ex­udes in­sight or tex­ture, it hardly lacks ei­ther.

With its pen­chant for re­fine­ment, the Li­bra­tone is at home with a man-and-his­gui­tar track like Iron & Wine’s Res­ur­rec­tion Fern, where it puts in a solid midrange per­for­mance and de­liv­ers en­gag­ing acous­tic pluck­ing and husky vo­cals.

Li­bra­tone has gone back to ba­sics with this more af­ford­able range. But it hasn’t reined in the charm, beauty or, more im­por­tantly, qual­ity that has made its more am­bi­tious wire­less speak­ers such a success. While there are bet­ter-sound­ing por­ta­ble speak­ers out there for this money, in­clud­ing the UE Boom 2 and Au­dio Pro Ad­don T3, there are plenty of poor­ersound­ing ones too. If you're with­out a Blue­tooth speaker, this one’s a good shout.

Fir­ing sound out from both sides, the ONE Click cre­ates a tall, wide sound­field

VER­DICT Li­bra­tone can add this to its cat­a­logue of well de­signed, ca­pable wire­less speak­ers

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