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