Perhaps you're looking for a single speaker system for your entire house, something that can really fill a very large room, but also operate well at subtle volumes. Perhaps you're prepared to spend $1,299.95 (direct) on such a purchase, provided it looks handsome, plays music wirelessly via AirPlay, and can also physically connect with a computer or TV via analog and digital connections. Perfect, then the only question remaining is: Do you have room for the Libratone Lounge( at Amazon)? If you have a flat screen TV, it's likely as long, if not longer. Now look at the image above, adjust your preconceptions, and read on if you have a place to put this beast, because it sounds great.

DesignDid I mention this speaker system is large? I live in New York, where apartments are small if you're not rich and famous. I'm not sure I know too many people who could find a spot for the Lounge in their humble abodes, at least where it would remain useful and wouldn't look ridiculous. At 8.7 by 40 by 4.7-inches (HWD) and 27 pounds, this is the kind of speaker you plan a room around, not the kind you will plop down in the middle of an established space. Unless that space is a wide-open loft. (The Lounge is also wall-mountable, however.) The Lounge is even larger than most home theater soundbar speaker systems, thanks to its almost nine inches of height.

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Like most Libratone speakers, the Lounge's front panel has a wool grille that covers the drivers and wraps around the side panels. It's removable, and if you wish to swap out colors for the Lounge's wool cover, that's possible on the company's website. Ours came in an austere, regal grey, and you can pick your color on the Libratone website. Extra covers in various hues cost an added $169.

Beneath the wool, one 8-inch 50-watt woofer, two 4-inch 25-watt midrange drivers, and two 1-inch 25-watt tweeters provide the audio. Technically, the woofer is not really a subwoofer, since it doesn't go quite as far down into the sub-bass range as a typical sub would, but this is a 2.1 system, nonetheless. Its frequency range begins around 38Hz—subwoofers typically also cover 10Hz-30Hz, so there's plenty of sub-bass being more or less ignored here.

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The lone button in plain sight, with the logo on it, has several functions. It's used to switch between audio sources, to mute, or to put the system in standby mode. The logo, a bird, lights up in different colors depending on what mode you're in.

Libratone Lounge Review

The back panel is wool-free, and has a small recessed area housing the connection for the included power cable (which has a nice cloth-lined cord), as well as Aux inputs—a 3.5mm and Optical connection. This is also where the annoyingly-placed Power switch resides. It's awkward because your direct path to the switch is blocked by the power cable itself.

Unlike some other speaker options from Libratone, this behemoth is not rechargeable—its battery life would be something comical. So if you're looking for portability, try an option like the Libratone Zipp( at Amazon) that can actually be toted around with ease.

There's no remote control, which seems silly in this price range, but it's easy enough to just control everything from your streaming device or computer.

Setting up AirPlay streaming on the Lounge is a simple process, but, there's also PlayDirect, which doesn't even require use of your Wi-Fi router, as well as DLNA streaming options for compatible computers and Android devices. The PlayDirect set-up is the easiest option—on iOS devices, refresh your Wi-Fi networks list in the Settings menu, and Libratone will appear as an option. Now select it as an AirPlay speaker on the playback page, and you're set.Regular AirPlay set-up, using your home Wi-Fi network, is similarly easy, with only a few added steps involving the free Libratone app. And DLNA set-up is a bit less intuitive, but none of the options are brain-benders.

PerformanceThe size of the Libratone Lounge sets it apart from typical streaming AirPlay systems, obviously, but this isn't just because it looks big. It sounds huge, and the stereo separation between left and right channels is something many people who own smaller docks no longer really experience. Stand 10 feet away from a smaller dock, and you are listening, more or less, in mono (though reflections off the walls around you keep this from truly being the case). Stand 10 feet away from the Lounge, and you're standing just outside of the sweet spot. You hear separation at a nice distance with the Lounge, and man, is it a loud, powerful system.

It would be shocking if the Lounge distorted, even on deep bass tracks, given its price. So the good news here is that it does not. Even on tracks with seriously challenging sub-bass frequencies, like the Knife's "Silent Shout," the Lounge can go up to its maximum volume without distorting on the deep bass drum loop. However, as the volume rises, it's clear that some digital signal processing (DSP) is being used to tone down the deep bass.

At lower levels, you actually get a more resonant bass response. At top levels, the deep low-end thump sounds much less intense—the tap of the kick drum's attack is not followed by the thunderous rumble that should be there. This is because, most likely, it would blow the woofer, thus Libratone uses DSP to minimize the chances of this. It is a direct alteration of the sound of the mix, and also the speaker's sound signature itself. Audiophiles will not love this, most likely, though at moderate volumes there's far less DSP to deal with.

This phenomenon is quite noticeable on the Jay-Z and Kanye West track, "No Church in the Wild." At mid-level volume, which is still quite loud, the sub-bass synth hits that sit underneath the kick drum loop have a nice bit of resonance and rumble to them. Raise the volume, and they thin out, and the focus is again on the treble edge of the attack on the drum loops, while the bass elements shift to the background. Vocals are always crisp and clear, but if you're looking for a huge subwoofer experience, the Lounge doesn't offer it.

As mentioned earlier, the sub's frequency range begins around 38Hz, leaving much of the sub-bass range uncovered. At moderate volumes, when the woofers make the bass range above 38Hz sound rich and fantastic, you won't care. But it's worth noting that deep bass fiends will probably find the Lounge lacking.

Enough about sub-bass and DSP. For most genres, and at normal listening levels, the Lounge sounds amazing. On Bill Callahan's "Drover," his unique baritone vocals are delivered with rich low-mids and a perfect treble edge. The drumming in the background typically has more thunder to it on a system with a subwoofer; here the drum hits sound less intense but still strong, and they create a perfect backdrop for his vocals.

Classical tracks, like John Adams' "The Chairman Dances," sound natural and well balanced at all volumes, but again, even with instrumental music, at top levels, you will notice the bass response being dialed back a bit, which definitely has a toning-down effect on the lower register strings and the large drum hits at the end. These hits can, on some systems, sound massive, but here they sound a bit more restrained. This is actually a positive thing—the Lounge doesn't deliver booming, unbalanced bass, it delivers a complete, balanced response, with bright highs and subtle bass within its powerful output.

If you're prepared to spend big money, but aren't sold on the Lounge, the B&O BeoPlay A9( at Amazon) may be of interest to you—it's twice as expensive, but packs more low-end, and is a general marvel of design and performance. True soundbar systems like the Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 2( at Amazon) and Harman Kardon SB 30( at Amazon) deliver powerful audio that's more tuned for home theater dialog and surround effects, and less so for music, but they're worth looking into if that's your focus.

At lower price ranges, the Libratone Zipp and Libratone Live( at Amazon) offer less powerful examples of the Lounge's sound signature. And Bowers & Wilkins' Zeppelin Air( at Amazon) is a victory of both design and audio performance. However, if you're looking for something big, and you care far less about big bass than you do balance, the Lounge is a versatile wireless option worthy of its sizable investment.

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Libratone Lounge

4.0See Itat AmazonMSRP $1,299.95ProsConsThe Bottom Line

If you have room in your budget and home for this behemoth, the Libratone Lounge is unlikely to disappoint, unless you're really only craving booming bass.

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