Review: Libratone ONE Click Portable Bluetooth Speaker

01
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Design & Connectivity

A Caribbean green Libratone ONE Click Bluetooth speaker resting on a shelf
Libratone has definitely scored another big win with the ONE Click, and this Bluetooth speaker should definitely be on everyone’s short list. Stanley Goodner/About

In case you’ve missed it, Libratone has released a revamped line of wireless indoor speakers that combine Danish design, fabulous features, and exceptional audio quality. While the Libratone Zipp and Zipp Mini play wonderfully alone or in paired groups, they lack a certain backpack portability and resistance to outdoor elements. But the company had already been one step ahead of us consumers, hence launching the ONE click and TOO Bluetooth wireless speakers. We were recently sent a unit of the former to see what it’s like to experience Libratone while on-the-go.

Photos do not do the Libratone ONE Click the proper justice deserved. About the size and density of a thick novel, this speaker is easy to carry and feels fantastic to hold, thanks to the smooth silicone bumper and fine fabric. Libratone loves to straddle functional and aesthetic, and the ONE Click speaker is no different than any of its siblings in that respect. While the overall presence may be simple, the unpretentious composition blends in to complement living spaces – Libratone speakers aren’t gaudy in announcing the obvious.

Despite its classy appearance, the Libratone ONE Click speaker is reasonably tough and quite capable of braving the outdoors. The removable click frame does a noble job of cushioning against edge hits and drops. Attachment ports on the sides of the frame act like feet to keep the speaker elevated above dirt or water, which is certainly an added benefit that works best on flat surfaces. Sure, tipping the ONE Click over lands it face-first on the tidy fabric. But at the worst, you’ll only have scuffs or smudges that won’t wipe away. Thanks to its IPX4-rated resistance to water, indirect splashes or spills of liquid have been easy to shake off.

One other neat aspect about the silicone frame involves the removable inserts and attachments for carrying. The Libratone ONE Click comes with color-matching U-lock and handle (shoulder-length one sold separately) that are good for hanging or toting the speaker in a few different configurations. While it may not be a huge feature, it offers fun and convenience that you won’t find with most other portable speakers (the closest might be the Ultimate Ears UE Roll 2). It is pretty satisfying to loop the ONE Click around the arm of a patio umbrella to play music without taking up any table space. And the attachments themselves feel durable and secure when locked in place.

The Libratone ONE Click sports a touch interface, complete with iconic nightingale logo underneath. Unlike the Libratone Zipp and Zipp Mini, operating the ONE Click is simplified. There are no track controls for skip/repeat (sadly); only a single-press is registered for playing/pausing music or answering/ending mobile calls (when applicable). A circular sweep across the dial still serves to adjust volume, with LEDs indicating the current level. A single press of the power button uses those same LEDs to flash the remaining battery life. A press-hold of the interface enters Bluetooth pairing mode. That’s all there is to it!

02
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Design & Connectivity (continued)

A Caribbean green Libratone ONE Click Bluetooth speaker alongside a hot tub
The Libratone ONE Click achieves volume levels ideal for floating background music outside on patios. Stanley Goodner/About

Those who felt a little impatient with the Zipp and Zipp Mini’s 30-second boot-up and shutdown sequences will be relieved to know that the ONE Click powers on/off almost instantaneously. As with its siblings, users are greeted with a fleeting, cheerful trill of notes when the ONE Click speaker comes to life.

Although the Libratone ONE Click features a built-in microphone to field hands-free calls, it’s better to pick up and use the smartphone instead. Even with both the speaker and mobile device volumes set to max, it’s difficult to make out the person on the other end through the ONE Click. You pretty much need to be in a hushed environment – nearby conversations easily interfere – with the speaker well within arm’s reach. The microphone’s pickup range is similar to that of a smartphone, although it does offer slightly better vocal clarity (both ways) than average. Yours will sound distant, so don’t be surprised when people continually request for you to talk louder and enunciate.

The wireless range is about what you can expect for a quality Bluetooth 4.1 audio device. From our real-world indoor tests, the ONE Click was almost able to maintain a connection up to the maximum 33 ft (10 m). The audio gets choppy at the extreme, cutting out whenever someone walks between the speaker and connected device. Closing the gap by two big steps lets the music play without skipping a beat.

Libratone lists the ONE Click as being able to last for up to 12 hours per full charge, which is likely under full-blast conditions. With the volume set to max on the speaker and 70 percent on the smartphone, we were able to consistently enjoy a (minimum) whopping 16 hours of play before having to plug it in to charge. And that’s at a volume level ideal for filling the average-sized bedroom or floating background music outside on the patio.

When checking remaining battery life through the 10-LED indicator, know that the first and last three LEDs disappear quickly, lasting for about an hour each. The rest disappear fairly evenly, each lasting for about two so hours (depending on overall volume). Versus the standard – and mostly inaccurate –  4-LED system found in so many speakers, the ONE Click ends up being far more truthful in displaying how much energy it has left in the tank. Those who prefer more accuracy can check remaining battery life (as a percentage) and playtime via Libratone’s mobile app.

03
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Audio Performance

A Caribbean green Libratone ONE Click Bluetooth speaker hanging from a patio umbrella
The Libratone ONE Click comes with color-matching U-lock and handle for hanging or toting in a few different configurations. Stanley Goodner/About

The Libratone ONE Click delivers a clean output of sound that is free from any underlying hissing or buzzing – often related to (cheap) wireless connections and/or power interference due to volume increases. The speaker itself has 10 volume steps (minimum mutes all sound), indicated by the dots on the touch interface. Combined with a connected device, it’s not too hard to manage the ONE Click and dial in the desired level.

Those who want all the decibels to blanket a back patio with audio can do so with meager consequence. The ONE Click maintains control and keeps nasty distortion at bay, even with both speaker and connected device volumes set at max. Cymbals may creep towards sounding tinny but fall short of reaching that harsh sizzle. Vocals do gain some sibilance and warm edges at max volume, but not to the point of brittle harshness or blur. Mids will muddle and thin some, especially when more elements are involved, but the former effect lessens as you move further away. The lows? They end up sounding bigger and better.

As with the Libratone Zipp and Zipp Mini, the ONE Click delivers omnidirectional audio. The 360-degree dispersion is (mostly) smooth, so you can walk a full circle around it and not hear any significant peaks or dips. The exception – mostly to those paying some serious attention – is a faint, subtle change to the output when facing either narrow end. Otherwise, music projects evenly, gaining gradual distance at each increment of volume. Setting the volume between medium-low and low-high puts the hardware in its comfort zone.

Just don’t lie the ONE Click down flat (or directly up against a wall), not unless you’re ok with adding a faint, underlying smushed-muffle sound to everything it plays – especially as volume and/or track complexity increases. Sometimes this can be difficult, given how the speaker teeters on uneven surfaces. Leaning it against something is more acceptable, but not completely ideal either. The ONE Click sounds best with minimal reflective blur and soft edges when it’s out in the open, at least half a meter away from any wall or large solid object. While the Libratone app offers choices of custom EQ presets for the ONE Click, there are no options to optimize the speaker based on location.

Because the ONE Click projects in all directions, you don’t experience a typical soundstage with left and right edges. The downside to having every spot in the room be the “sweet spot” is that the delivery can seem rather flat (i.e. you may be able to hear and understand that there are two drum kits playing, but not feel/sense it). Those who must have that pronounced depth and imaging can always pair an additional Libratone ONE Click in stereo via the mobile app. But considering that this speaker is meant for easy grab-and-go, one by itself keeps things perfectly portable.

04
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Audio Performance (continued)

A Caribbean green Libratone ONE Click Bluetooth speaker hanging from a wall-mounted moose head
The ONE Click is able to deliver smooth audio that is louder and fuller-sounding than many others. Stanley Goodner/About

Although the ONE Click’s projection belies its stature – it really is a pint-sized powerhouse – the performance is physically limited by the hardware. Just as the Libratone Zipp Mini sounds a little less full and robust when compared to the Libratone Zipp, the ONE Click is also a ​partial-step down from the Zipp Mini. While the overall atmosphere sounds slightly closed-in, the ONE Click admirably sustains above-average clarity and expression throughout the entire volume range. Gentler-playing elements are present within the space and never outpaced or overshadowed by the more aggressive parts. The ONE Click delivers an appreciable amount of detail, although it needs at least medium-low volume to bring it all out.

A common struggle shared by many small/portable speakers is poor reproduction of the upper registers. Highs often suffer and can come out sounding wiry, bleached, strained, piercing, and/or tinny, to name a few. But not so much with the Libratone ONE Click. It dazzles with hi-hats and cymbals that crash and “shush” smoothly while retaining a solid, metallic texture. Although the ONE Click’s highs may feel slightly light/thin at times, there’s no lack of alacrity or emotional intensity. Notes are crisp with a negligible amount of blur/hum along the edges. And while layers may overlap (the 360-degree spread of sound is more or less mono), instruments and vocals still maintain distinct tone and character.

The ONE Click’s mids can sometimes feel like they’ve taken half a step back on the stage, especially when up against active highs and lows. Vocals do a better job at maintaining presence towards the front, but midrange instruments often shoulder alongside (or fall behind) prominent drums and bass. If you know your music well, you won’t have to listen hard to notice the touch of subdued distance or thinning. But in spite of the seemingly u-shaped sonic balance, the ONE Click delivers vibrant and energetic mids – especially with tracks showcasing brass. Trumpets and saxophones blare the kind of captivating, burnished sound that turns heads and moves feet.

The ONE Click handles midrange complexity well for its size. Some portable speakers start to muddle and turn sound into noise as layers compound – especially as volume increases. Libratone seems to have designed the ONE Click so that music won’t overwhelm it so easily. Play favorites by Maynard Keenan (i.e. listen to some tracks from Tool, A Perfect Circle, or Puscifer) and you can hear how the ONE Click keeps elements composed without losing grip. The overall tone is good, and there is a bit of detectable coloration in the area where mids transitions to the lows. But considering the entire performance, either of these don’t add too much negative effect to the music.

The low-end performance is likely the most enjoyable surprise from the Libratone ONE Click speaker. It may not the biggest and baddest for the size (the Ultimate Ears UE Megaboom and Riva Turbo X are some top contenders in similar price arena), but the ONE Click certainly strikes a balance of speed, muscle, and extension to maintain great-sounding lows. Drum hits deliver a punchy pop with nimble attacks and decays to create concise envelopes of sound. You get the right amount of oomph that – for the most part – stays proportionate with respect to the highs and mids.

Not only do the lows exhibit fairly taut, clean edges, but there is a bit of power and rumble supporting everything you hear. Stand close enough and the sub-bass texture is evident – it’s not huge, but it’s certainly there. Bass guitars deliver characteristic “thrumm” and purr while playing, yet not to the point of obscuring other elements. Drum and synth hits reach appropriately deep to satisfy most songs, all without sounding loose, bloated, or boomy. The ONE Click expresses lows that sound rich and classy (for its size and hardware, naturally) instead of cheap and forced.

05
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The Verdict

A Caribbean green Libratone ONE Click Bluetooth speaker with accessories
The included u-lock and handle attachments are convenient and help to distinguish the ONE Click in a crowded Bluetooth speaker market. Stanley Goodner/About

Libratone has definitely scored another big win with the ONE Click, and this Bluetooth speaker should definitely be on everyone’s short list. Not only does it blend well with indoor living spaces, but it’s rugged and outdoorsy enough to tag along wherever you go. The volume and battery life are fantastic for the speaker’s size, and the micro USB connection means there’s no need to worry about carrying a bulky power brick for charging. The included u-lock and handle attachments are convenient and help to distinguish the ONE Click in a crowded Bluetooth speaker market. Plus, it sounds fantastic and complements most all genres of music for any occasion.

Versus competition in the same price bracket, the Libratone ONE Click weighs in bigger and heavier than most. While it’s about as portable as carrying a thick book, the benefit comes from the increased driver sizes. The ONE Click is able to deliver smooth audio that is louder and fuller-sounding than many others. What it may lack in bass output power (i.e. when compared to heavy-hitters like the UE Boom 2) is made up for with better balance and definition.

The ONE Click is also able to project at higher volumes without adding distortion, thinning sound, or sacrificing texture. Music comes across as appropriately rich and open for the speaker’s hardware. Although pleasing overall, some may notice that the ONE Click's level of sonic detail and clarity is noticeably below that of the Riva S or B&O Play Beoplay A2 speakers. However, the ONE Click isn’t limited by the semi-anemic volume levels and wall adapter charging of the former. And it doesn’t suffer from short battery life and double the price tag as with the latter.

Despite the bits of nitpicking here and there, the ONE Click strikes so many more of the right chords than not. This is the kind of everyday Bluetooth speaker that you’d want to have playing nearby wherever you go. Versus the Libratone Zipp Mini, which costs US$50 more, the ONE Click offers better bang-for-the-buck at its $199 price point. The portability, ruggedness, and micro USB charging more than make up for the differences in audio output, especially since the ONE Click can hang on handlebars as one bikes to supply music to the nearest party.

Product page: Libratone ONE Click Bluetooth wireless speaker

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