Bluetooth speakers pretty much all look the same with similar "tube" designs. It's a form factor that works well for being portable and for dispersing sound, but they're really nothing to look at.
Libratone doesn't want their speakers to look and feel like everything else out there, so they made the Libratone ONE Click. If its design doesn't immediately jump out at you, its bright coral pink color will. It's a speaker you'll want to proudly present for your guests to see. Clearly, this is the Bluetooth speaker for the Bang & Olufsen crowd.
On paper, the ONE Click sounds impressive with its large 3" woofer, 12 hour battery life and splash proof design. But Libratone is entering a mature market where just about everyone makes a mid-range Bluetooth speaker.
So does the ONE Click stand out from the crowd? Unfortunately, no. Not really.
The Libratone ONE Click is the most beautiful Bluetooth speaker I've ever seen. Bright coral (officially called Cerise Pink) isn't usually my color but it's undeniably attractive on the ONE Click. I was immediately enamored with the ONE Click's design as soon as I unboxed it, pouring over it's quirky form factor, plush cloth cover and unique backlit touchpad.
Tapping the touchpad controls music playback while sliding your finger around its perimeter controls volume. It's a little opaque when you first try it out but quickly becomes second nature after you've used it for a few minutes.
That said, although it's relatively intuitive, I found the much easier to adjust volume via my phone than using the finicky trackpad – it always took a couple of tries to activate the volume control and I constantly overshot the volume level I wanted.
On the back of the speaker is a single power button and a flap hiding its microUSB charging port and 3.5mm aux port. I find it odd that the power button is located on the opposite side, though Libratone may have wanted it this way for the speaker's minimalist aesthetic.
The most interesting design element about The Libratone ONE Click is how you attach the included rubber strap and loop. I spent fifteen minutes trying to figure out how to attach the handle to the speaker, and reading through the manual yielded no instructions on how to do so.
Eventually, I figured out that you can pop the rubberized bumper frame off of the speaker entirely to remove the rubber grommets needed to attach the rubber strap. It's something you could figure out after a few minutes of fiddling around, but Libratone should really add this fun fact to its literature.
Since the Libratone ONE Click features a flat shape, it slips easily into a backpack for transport. However, it also makes it a bit awkward to use. Since sound comes from both sides, the ONE Click is really meant to be placed standing up or hung up on something like a fence or tree. Unfortunately, that's not always possible, like at the beach.
You can lay the speaker down but it seems silly to cover up half of its speakers. Plus, the speakers sound suffers when placed flat, as it can't disperse as wide of a sound stage as it can when vertical. Thankfully the speaker gets loud enough to make up for muffling one side of speakers but the speakers will distort at its highest volume.
Performance and features
The Libratone ONE Click is definitely pretty, but it needs to sound good since it is, after all, a speaker. Unfortunately, I found myself being conflicted about its sound. Some vocal and acoustics tracks sounded really good, while more bassy heavy music fell flat.
Let's start with the good. The Libratone ONE Click has crisp highs and warm mids that make human vocals sound very good. Norah Jones and Andrew Bird sound great, with good resolution and treble extension.
But once music starts requiring the ONE Click to dig deep, the speaker falls flat on its face. I kept wanting more bass impact and extension. For EDM, I always felt like I was being trolled by the ONE Click's lack of bass response. The crisp treble leading up to the bass drop sound great but once the bass drop hits, it's as if the speaker turned itself down 20 decibels.
Libratone has an Android and iOS app where you can control and tweak its speakers, including the ONE Click. I went into the settings try out the app's EQ presets (you can't make your own) but none of them sounded particularly good.
The Libratone app also lets you link up the company's speakers for a multi-room setup or just for more volume. Many competing speakers like the JBL Charge 3 and Beats Pill+ have the same feature, letting you pair two speakers to play simultaneously.
Speaking of the competition, I found myself returning to the JBL Charge 3 over and over again after listening to the Libratone ONE Click. The Charge 3 may lack the ONE Click's crisp highs, but its bass impact, tonal balance and wide soundstage made music more engaging. And for $50 less (£10 more in the UK) than the ONE Click, you get waterproofing, an additional 8 hours of battery life and the ability to charge your phone.
It's tough choosing between the Beats Pill+ and the ONE Click Click, as each speaker performs better and worse with different parts of the frequency spectrum. The Pill+ has much better bass impact, though it can sound a bit muddy. The ONE Click has much better clarity for high frequencies.
The Libratone ONE Click is undeniably well designed. I found myself drawn to its design, even though it had some quirks like being easily knocked over standing up. Sound is great for vocal and acoustic music, podcasts and taking calls. Battery life is also good, though not great, with 12 hours of playback.
The biggest downfall of the Libratone ONE Click is its lack of bass. Certain genres sounded flat and lacked the warmth of other speakers in the sub-$200 (£150/AU$300) price range. While the ONE Click is splash proof, a fully waterproof build would have been nice. For the price, however, it's tough to recommend against speakers that offer more features and better sound.
The Libratone ONE Click is a breath of fresh air when it comes to Bluetooth speaker design. While other speakers continue to use its cylindrical form factor, Libratone was brave enough to try something different. The ONE Click is a conversation starter that I'd be proud show off as a room's center piece.
I think ONE Click's form factor, even with its quirks, is something Libratone should stick with. The accessory system with its removable bumper is innovative and I hope there will be more strap options available in the future.
Sound is good for certain genres but its lack of bass response is quite disappointing. Even with two 3-inch woofers, the ONE Click failed to dig deep and lacked the warmth of other Bluetooth speakers. For $200 (£139, about AU$240) the ONE Click isn't cheap and is up against tough competition from heavy hitters like the UE Boom 2, JBL Charge 3 and Bose SoundLink Mini II.
I'd like to see Libratone revisit the One Click's sound quality to give it some of the low-end body it's currently missing. If it can make the Libratone ONE Click sound as good as it looks, it'll have a winner on their hands.