Libratone has launched “Diva”, a powerful TV soundbar with a colorful design. Like many other soundbars you can also use your smartphone or tablet to stream music to it via Bluetooth, Airplay, Spotify Connect or DLNA.
Libratone is a Danish brand of design speakers, and still a relatively newcomer to the market. Libratone is only making wireless speakers, but not only small speakers for some light music playback; also powerful speakers such as the previous Lounge. Here is the latest from Libratone. The new Diva soundbar has a starting price of $1,099 / £649.
Under the woollen cover you find a 5” base unit, two 3” mid tone drivers and two 1” tweeters. Everything is driven by a 22 watt amplifier, giving it enough power to run the five units. If you have a TV you probably want to know that the Diva is 99 cm wide, 16 cm high and 10 cm deep. The Diva has some curves and is not a particularly small soundbar to fit on the wall. The 99 cm makes it more or less as wide as a 42-inch TV, including bezels.
You can connect the Diva via either optical and a mini jack. You should prefer the optical port as it can deliver lossless stereo, as opposed to the mini jack, which will throw away some dynamic range, details and resolution. There is no HDMI input, which means that you cannot adjust the volume on for example a Blu-ray player separately, and the speaker will not automatically turn on or off.
If you wish to use the Diva for music streaming, it has USD to make sure the iPad or iPhone does not run out of battery, but it also has wireless AirPlay, DLNA and Bluetooth. If you have Spotify Premium you can use Spotify Connect, and HTC fans are able to use HTC Connect.
I noticed a small design error as I placed my soundbar on the table, where it was resting, just a little bit, on the optical cable. This is not critical, but I believe it will wear out the cable faster than normally.
The plastic on the back also looked as if it had been curled and the back was missing one screw so hopefully buyers will not experience the same inconsistencies as I did. It is unclear whether it was production error, a transportation error or the result of an earlier reviewer, but if you experience anything you should obviously use the warranty to get it fixed.
On the back there are also some holes for the table stand or wall mount and both types of brackets are included in the box. The table stand is designed in aluminium with grey rubber feet at the bottom. It looks very nice. The rubber feet also makes sure that Diva does not slide out when placed on the table or the floor. The wall mount is designed in steel and painted white, making it durable and invisible when the Diva is mounted.
Design is always subjective, but the soundbar is, no matter your preference, built from quality material. The edges are completely straight and the wool sewing flows perfectly around the curves. Personally, I like the design and I believe it will fit naturally into most modern homes.
The rounded edges make it different-looking than all the others square soundbars on the market. However, I still think that the design is slightly conservative and elegant; more so that challenging and provocative, which is not entirely in line with the name “Diva” .
When having said that the fabric on the front can be changed, so if your prefer a different color you can have it. It is entirely up to the buyer so if you want a conservative white or black you can, but you can also get a more challenging green, yellow or orange cover. And in pink, light blue or turquoise the name "Diva" makes more sense. I have not found the Diva in any other color than black, but in Libratone’s own webshop it is possible to choose between 10 different colors.
Even though I did not have any additional wool covers I tried to check how easy it was to replace it, and I can say that it should not be a problem for anyone. The cover is removed by zipping the zip like on a sweater and the fabric seems to be made of good quality, as it is both thick and nice to the touch. So unless you are violent, I do not think the wool will fissure any time soon.
Libratone has thought about all these little details, except for the packaging, which is just a ordinary, boring white box. Not that it matters much, but as we know; never to underestimate the power of first impression.
I had a single day to compare the Libratone Diva to the Sonos Playbar - likely the biggest competitor - and to explore the differences. For music storage I used my QNap NAS and a Spotify Premium subscription.
For movies I used the same NAS and a Xbox One as the Blu-Ray player. Eveything was connected to a Sony HX855 TV.
Functionality and app
Libratone Diva has a smart app, which can be used to set up and control more units at the same time. However you cannot link more Libratone speakers as you would be able to with the Sonos system.
Diva is an independent lady, which can take care of your TV sound and music streaming from a range of platforms. But she is first a foremost a soundbar, so if you are listening to music and you turn on the TV - connected via optical - she will automatically switch to TV sound.
To adjust the sound volume, you can you your standard TV remote control as the soundbar has an incorporated IR diode and IR learning capabilities that are compatible with pretty much any TV brand. You do not have to use the app for changing volume. The IR learning function is very straight-forward and you will even find a quick guide in the box that explains setup step-by-step. Very easy.
If you wish to use the Diva as music player and wish to shift between more smartphones and tablets, you should prefer using Spotify Connect or Airplay. If you want to switch between different Bluetooth devices you need to physically push the Bluetooth button on the Diva. This is not possible form the app, which also means that the Diva has some disadvantages when it comes to controlling it. However, this is not unique to the Diva as it is true for many wireless speakers. As long as you avoid using Bluetooth on several devices there should be no problem.
I rarely used the app, which is actually a shame because it is extremely well-designed and elegant.. But for my use the app was mostly during setup up of the system and for general reading about the Libratone universe. When setting up the system, you can adjust a lot of settings, for instance the soundbar's distance to the wall and floor, as well as EQ presets (from jazz to pop and so on).
I prefer the neutral setting in most cases, but you can experience as you please.
I was not able to do a power consumption reading during the Diva, but since the units need to have Wi-Fi or Bluetooth turned on, it will likely stay somewhere below 5 W in idle use. It has a class D amplifier, so the highest power consumption in use is probably lower than 25 W.
Libratone Diva has two different roles; a soundbar designed for the TV; and a speaker for music. Since FlatpanelsHD focuses mostly on TVs, let me start off with the Diva's capabilities as a soundbar. Most TVs today come with lifeless speakers so soundbars are more important than ever.
The Diva is capable of reproducing clear voices and sound effects. Due to the two midtone drivers and two tweeters the Diva controls the high notes with great control. However, it only has a 5" bass unit driver, which is barely enough to be called a real bass unit. This is evident with for example the intro music of Star Wars 3 ”Revenge of the Sith”, as the Diva has some difficulties with the deepest bass sequences. Still, in most other instances it sounds good.
For some people, the very balanced and neutral sound will probably sound boring, but I think it is a little liberating. Most competitors will try to pump up bass even though their speaker is not capable of doing so. I think it is a wise choice, even though some music fans will probably that their favorite jazz or electronics music lacks a little bass.
In the end it is a matter of taste. Do you want the wrong bass reproduction or only the correct part that is missing some of the lowest notes? If you vote for the latter the Diva will fit your taste.
The Scandinavian fingerprint and idea of ”less is more” is not only evident in the physical design, but also the sound reproduction. When the Diva is pushed and volume is turned up it continues to play well. You will need to really push to hear annoying distortion, since its control of the the mid and high notes is so nicely balanced.
The biggest let-down is still the bass, and it is a shame that it is not possible to connect a wireless subwoofer to the Diva. If the Diva stands alone in a big living room it will have some trouble, so Diva is probably best suited for smaller living rooms at around 300-400 square feet. Still, as an alternative to integrated speakers in most TVs, Libratone Diva will win every single battle no matter the size of the living room.
Libratone is not a multiroom speaker, as the Airplay system still lack multi-room capabilities. This means that it cannot create its own WiFi network like Sonos or Samsung WAM can. It is a shame, since Libratone has a very modern design and a colorful, customizable deisng as opposed to its competitors that usually rely on black or white colors in cheap plastic cabinets.
I think Libratone would win over many hearts if it was possible to add Libratone's Loop, Zipp or Live speakers to the mix, and create a real 5.1 surround setup or multi-room setup. Unfortunately, that is not possible - at least not yet.
A little side note. Because the speaker supports Airplay, you can also connect it wirelessly to the Apple TV box, allowing you to send audio wirelessly to the speaker when watching Netflix or iTunes movies (and everything else on Apple TV). The Diva obviously still needs a power cable, but you can avoid the cable between the TV and soundbar. You can set it up in the menus of Apple TV, where "Libratone Diva" can be selected as an Airplay speaker when it is turned on. Alternatively, you can - while watching a movie on Netflix or iTunes - long-press the round button in the center of the Apple TV remote, click right and select the speaker from this menu. It works great, as long as your Wifi is stable.
Libratone Diva is a beautiful soundbar that will fit into most modern living rooms. You can change the wool covers to almost every color and create the look you want. The Diva is not only pretty, but also a great TV or music speaker that gets the most out of its relatively small drivers. And worth noting; we finally have a soundbar with neutral sound and very little distortion even when it gets loud.
Finally a soundbar with neutral sound
As TV gets thinner and thinner, sound does too. Soundbar have never been more relevant than today, and Libratone's Diva is welcome addition to the category. It is a big improvement to the sound experience when watching the latest and greatest movies, series and series. However, some competitors allow you to connect more products in multi-room or surround setups. Libratone does not, which also means that you cannot connect a wireless subwoofer. The Diva must carry all the weight herself, and if you have a large living room you might get disappointed as it could you a more powerful bass in some instances.
As a music player, Libratone's Diva does an excellent job. You can connect all kinds of devices via an optical cable or mini-jack, but you can also use wireless audio systems such as Bluetooth, Airplay, Spotify Connect, HTC Connect, and DLNA. The thing missing from that list is HDMI, which is a shame.
In its price class, the Diva is a very interested product and even though you do not get multi-room features, you will get a great speaker with beautiful design and quality materials.