Libratone Beat review: Libratone Beat

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The Good Incredibly simple set-up; cool design.

The Bad Unimpressive 'stereo' effect; very expensive.

The Bottom Line If you value simplicity and design over audio quality, the wireless Libratone Beat speaker will be worth considering. But we're not convinced it offers £550 worth of audio oomph.

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6.5 Overall

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One's house is one's castle, and nothing feels quite so regal as reclining in a gigantic armchair in the middle of your living room, and listening to your favourite symphonies, or bangin' drum and bass. So you need a speaker set-up. But heaven knows they're ugly things -- great masses of shiny black plastic filling your precious living space like so many stuffed orcas. Libratone wants to eradicate ugly speakers forever with the Beat -- a snuggly wireless speaker designed for anyone who owns an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. But, at around £550, is the Beat worth throwing down your notes for?

Bemusing triangle

Stylistically, the Beat is a winner. Available in grey, black, beige and red, it stands out from the crowd because of its plush covering and the fact it's quite tall. It has a triangular shape, for reasons we'll get too later, and a big chrome handle along the spine, for carrying it around.

You'll need that handle too, because the Beat is quite hefty. Lugging it from room to room might prove useful in rare circumstances, for example if you have dinner guests over, or if you want to put it on the patio during a barbeque, but, for the most part, we see this speaker staying pretty stationary.

There's a single button on the top right corner of the Beat that's used for getting the tunes pumping. And getting tunes pumping is the Beat's single most impressive ability.

Transmission complete

The Beat comes with a box full of connectors that channel audio from your device of choice to the Beat, over a proprietary 2.4GHz wireless frequency. Connecting iDevices wirelessly is blissfully simple -- just stick the little 30-pin connector into your Apple kit, and all sound will be ported to the Beat.

Importantly, the Beat doesn't work only with the iPod app on your iCompanion -- it will play sound from other apps as well, so listening to Spotify is on the cards, for example. If you're a fan of mobile gaming, you could enjoy the Angry Birds music blasting out at full volume, and hear, with crystal-like clarity, the kamikaze screech of every bird that hits a pig's castle.

There's also a USB transceiver for pumping tunes through a PC or Mac. We tested the plug-and-play transceiver with a PC and found it simple to get up and running. We can't imagine the process being any more complex if you're using a Mac.

We're told that, if you own more than one Beat, they'll both start playing if they're both in range of the music source. Alternatively, you could position them tactically around your house so that music starts playing whenever you walk into a new room and come within range of a Beat. We only had a single review sample, however, so we couldn't test this feature.

The simple set-up is absolutely the Beat's strongest suit. If you simply can't stand having messy cables lying around, or plugging your device into a speaker system every time you fancy blasting out a few tunes, the Beat will prove a seriously appealing proposition. 

Stereo no-no

Libratone reckons the Beat is capable of generating stereo sound from just a single speaker, the secret lying in the Beat's angled back. Stick the Beat up against a wall, and its triangular shape means sound from the mid-range drivers and ribbon tweeters is fired backwards, bouncing off the wall and out into the room from two very different directions.

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