Loewe Speaker 2go review
Unless you have a fair wodge of cash to spend, there's a chance that you've never looked at Loewe. Except, perhaps, in passing fascination, the same way that you gawp at a passing Ferrari.
Purveyors of high-end televisions, Loewe isn't short of innovation, design panache or premium touches when it comes to its TV sets, so it's perhaps something of a surprise to find that its Bluetooth speaker is deliciously affordable at £269, only £30 more than the Philips Fidelio P9.
But is it worth turning to Loewe in this highly competitive market? We've been taking our tunes on the move to find out.
The Loewe Speaker 2go takes a clean, minimalist approach to design. Perhaps the most surprising thing is just how compact it is. Measuring 240 x 105 x 51mm it's the sort of size you can easily throw into a bag, with feeling that you'll then struggle to take anything else with you.
It weighs 1.3kg, that weight reflected in the solid feel when you pick up the Speaker 2go. There are no creaks, the metal grilles that cover the front and back don't flex when pushed. It screams quality and at this price, from this company, that's exactly what you'd expect.
The Speaker 2go is available in two colours, either silver or black (on review here). Although we initially thought the silver was more attractive, we like the way the central Loewe logo punctuates the black face of the speaker. It's small and understated, but that helps emphasise its significance.
The sides are wrapped in anodised aluminium, which again feels just as solid as the speaker grilles. You might on initial inspection believe they are plastic, but that's not the case. Perhaps our only criticism is how easily it attracts fingerprints. For a portable speaker that's something you'll have to deal with on a regular basis. If your Speaker 2go is anywhere near hands that have seen sun cream, you'll find yourself polishing it back to perfection regularly.
Get yourself connected
The Loewe Speaker 2go is a Bluetooth speaker, so will universally connect to a wide range of devices. To make pairing easier, Loewe has thankfully turned to NFC (near field communications) so you can just present your compatible source device to the speaker to initiate pairing over Bluetooth. It couldn't be simpler.
We tapped the Speaker 2go with the HTC One and found the connection process seamless: this is an application of NFC that we're big fans of, because it just makes things so simple. Of course, if you're using a device that doesn't offer this technology, like the Apple iPhone, you'll have to use the conventional Bluetooth pairing method. The Speaker 2go will support connection for up to 5 devices.
On the rear of the Speaker 2go there's a 3.5mm input meaning you can use just about any device to feed music into this speaker and the cable is supplied in the box. There's also a USB port so you can plug in your smartphone and charge it from the speaker's internal battery.
There's an on/off switch which is an important feature, as the top buttons could easily be pressed when in a bag and you don't want your speaker turning on unnecessarily.
Those control buttons across the top offer volume controls, a calling button for answering incoming calls, Bluetooth, so you can manually connect, as well as a standby button. Each button is accompanied by neat LED status indicators recessed into the central groove that runs around the device.
The volume control is independent from the Bluetooth volume control of your source device, so offers varying levels of volume for the speaker's amplifiers, rather than cranking up the output from your phone.
The Loewe Speaker 2go offers 40W from two 10W full range speaker units and a 20W subwoofer, powered by three class D digital amplifiers. Hiding behind the grilles and under that plastic edging lies an aluminium chassis, which accounts for the solid build and weight of the device, but also ensures solid audio performance.
The Speaker 2go is a great performer, with rich delivery of bass, and sufficient volume to ensure that you'll be able to fill whichever room you place it in with your music. We were impressed to find that even on a bass heavy track, the Speaker 2go managed to deliver it at full volume without distortion: there's plenty of detail both at low and high volumes.
On the base of the Speaker 2go you'll find a rubber bar to isolate it from the surface it's placed on and reduce unwanted vibrations, but at the front there's a pop-up foot. This will change the angle of the speaker by 7.5 degrees, better suited to projecting the music into the room. It's a subtle detail, but one we like.
To ensure the fidelity of your music there's support for the apt-X codec, which is widely incorporated into many modern mobile devices, aiming to preserve the quality of your wireless music. We have to say, it sounds excellent, a really good performer given the small size.
The Speaker 2go can also be used as a speakerphone, with a built-in mic on the top. If there's one slight weakness, it's in its function as a speakerphone. Although you get the same good quality from the speakers, so the incoming caller has a nice rich tone to their voice, it's the mic that seems to present the problem.
In the test calls we made, some reported that we sounded a little too quiet. The microphone is mounted at the top and we found we either had to speak up or move the speaker close to the person talking to make everything perfectly clear. If you're using this in a larger group, you may have to all raise the volume of your voices to be heard. There is, however, a noise cancellation system in place, so once you've overcome that slight barrier, it works well enough with feedback.
Also, we found that we cranked the volume up during the call, only to revert to very loud music once the call stopped and the music resumed - something to watch out for.
Loewe was looking to make a splash with the Speaker 2go: designed to deliver, but priced to be affordable, the result is a Bluetooth speaker that's highly impressive. It's an entry point to a high-end brand and it delivers that quality by the bucket load. The battery will give you eight hours of playback and we've found that it will see us through a day's work with no problems.
It's a competitive market and there are a lot of good Bluetooth speakers available these days. We loved the performance and stylings of the Philips Fidelio P9, we liked the Jawbone Big Jambox. Then there's the competitor offering in the Bose SoundLink II, a range of premium Bluetooth speakers that all deliver at similar prices.
There's something charming about the Speaker 2go's diminutive size, but surprising about its performance. Given the solid design and the impressive quality of both the build and the performance, it comes highly recommended as a premium speaker for your music on the move.