When the discussion of great-sounding, aesthetically gorgeous audio products comes up, Libratone isn't a name that resonates with many consumers.
While it may lack the heritage and mass appeal of such luxury brands as Bang & Olufsen and Bose, the Danish company continues to make noise with its lineup of beautifully designed headphones and speakers. The Track+ elevates the brand's social status with a dynamic soundstage and intuitive active noise-cancelling technology worthy of its price.
Light, thin and well-built, the Track+ is a stunner, boasting an attractive wireless design that pays respect to the brand's minimalist ethos. The headphones mold perfectly into the ear and don't poke out as much as the Bose QuietControl 30, to maintain a sleeker, streamlined look.
Luxury is the theme of the Track+, a theme clearly exhibited from the handsome white-matte finish to the svelte neckband. The earbuds are sculpted from a composite material that feels sturdy and looks striking when resting on your ears. And the Track+ meets IPX4 standards, making it splash- and sweat-proof.
Other eye-catching components of the Track+ are the two metal control modules, which feel weightless and flaunt a polished exterior that adds to the headphones' high-end appearance. I'm a huge fan of the raised buttons that stealthily blend into the right module and become invisible to the naked eye. The gold branding and directional inscriptions are a nice touch as well.
Luxury is the theme of the Track+, a theme clearly exhibited in the headphones' detailing, from the handsome white-matte finish to the svelte neckband.
Libratone bundles the Track+ with four different pairs of ear tips and a micro-USB charging cable. The latter choice seems like a missed opportunity to make these headphones future-proof, as the current state of charging is leaning toward USB-C. I also found the absence of a carrying case disappointing, because these are elegant headphones that you'll want to carry around and keep protected while on the go.
Comfort and Fit
These headphones are designed for comfort. I sported them daily for several weeks, for several hours each day, and never felt fatigued. I credit this to the supersoft ear tips, which provided great cushioning and a secure seal. I never needed to swap them out.
Unlike most other models in its class, the Track+ doesn't require exact angling to fit into your ears. The pill-shaped housing is a suitable form factor that rests nicely on the inside without pinching your ear's concha. Many people will find the soft, rubberized neckband soothing against the skin.
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While the Track+ shares some attributes with sports headphones, it's not entirely constructed as one. Running with the Track+ was awkward, because the modules constantly slapped my cheeks. Suffice it to say, this became annoying after a mile in. When I performed other cardio-centric exercises, like burpees and crunches, the headphones routinely slipped out of my ears. The extra wing tips didn't solve this problem.
Controls and Setup
All functionality on the Track+ is assigned to the two modules on the neckband. There is a slight learning curve with the controls, but once you get accustomed to their multifunctional duties, toggling is simple.
The right module contains the micro-USB port and three buttons: two to raise and lower the volume and a centered, oval button for call management, media playback (pause/play) and track navigation. Thanks to the raised-button layout, each button delivers great responsiveness and tactility, with most commands needing only a short press. Click the middle button twice to skip a song or three times to hear the previous track. The left module has only one button, which powers the device on/off, initiates pairing mode and switches on active noise cancellation.
Pairing the Track+ is a basic process. Turn the headphones on by holding down the button on the right module. To enter pairing mode, keep pressing for a few seconds after turning the headphones on; you'll hear beeps that signal you to connect the Track+ to a device. Enter your laptop or smartphone's Bluetooth menu, find the Pair New Device' setting, and select Libratone Track+.
Active Noise Cancellation
Libratone refers to its active noise-cancellation technology as CityMix. It hosts four different ANC levels: Pass Through (+6 decibels), Low NC (0 dB), Medium NC (-12 dB) and Maximum NC (-20 dB). Each variation is designed to drown out a certain amount of ambient noise; however, I found the results for each level to be nearly identical.
As an urbanite who can't escape the daily roar of the Big Apple, I was served best by Maximum NC, which completely silenced all outside interference. This was great, but I couldn't differentiate between this mode and the other three, because they all performed similarly, especially at max volume. I barely heard the construction outside of my building on Pass Through mode, until I lowered the volume. After that, I could hear the cacophony of horns synonymous with New York City traffic. Low NC was the one that I could hear the biggest difference in performance and that's only because Libratone recommends this mode for windy conditions. It worked during those stormy walks to the gym, as the strong gusts of air did little to interrupt my listening sessions.
Libratone has won me over in the past with its dynamic-sounding speakers. The Track+ follows suit with a rich sound profile that highlights some amazing mids and highs.
Compared to elite ANC in-ears like the QuietControl 30, the Track+ puts up a good fight blocking out everything from subway banter to traffic noise. It isn't powerful enough to take on the droning sounds of an airplane engine, as Bose's earphones can do, though the flexible ANC settings are satisfying and serviceable. Also, because it lets you accurately adjust the amount of noise cancellation vial dial control on the Bose Connect app, the QuietControl 30 has an edge over most the competition.
In addition to CityMix, the Track+ has an ambient monitoring mode, which lets you hear what's going on around you without taking off the headphones. It's a niche feature for those who enjoy eavesdropping on other people's conversations, but it's nothing you can't find on other ANC models.
Libratone has won me over in the past with its dynamic-sounding speakers. The Track+ follows suit with a rich sound profile that highlights some amazing mids and highs. Zoning out to rich-sounding scores like Bill Conti's "Gonna Fly Now (Theme from Rocky)," I was able to hear more than the commanding trumpets and saw synthesizer, picking up on lesser-known instruments in the record, like the congas and tambourine. That was impressive, especially because the QuietControl 30 achieved similar results.
Sticking to a lively playlist, I enjoyed the clear mids and vocal clarity on Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." For kicks, I compared a Spotify version to the musical snippet featured in the trailer for the group's upcoming biopic and noticed that the Track+ did a solid job of replicating the group's intricate and infectious harmonies. The soundstage accentuated the distinctive vocals of Freddie Mercury better than I expected.
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The Track+ lends itself to every music category, but not every song. I thought the sound profile could benefit from better lows, because the bass response here is lighter than on the BeatsX or QuietControl 30. Bumping a record like "Streets at Night" by PRhyme — which is signature DJ Premier with an emphatic bass line and hard-hitting drums — the Track+ failed to deliver the same oomph as most other headphones. The restricted max volume on the headphones didn't help boost bass levels either.
The QuietControl 30 performed better with bass-heavy records. Putting The Carters' "Everything Is Love" album in rotation, I rocked out to the punchy production and deep lows on bangers like "Apesh*t" and "Black Effect." I tried doing the same with the Track+ but encountered muddy bass that affected the clarity of Beyoncé's trap-rapping vocals.
Most companion apps are bloatware with little-to-no use (e.g. Plantronics BackBeat Fit). Libratone's free app is not one of them. It comes loaded with features and is easily downloadable via a scannable QR code in the instruction booklet.
Upon connecting the device, the headphones are listed as a Soundspace, which is basically a personalized sound profile. Here, you'll toy with the ANC settings. You also have the option to toggle ambient monitoring or use a special mode that auto-adjusts the ANC levels by examining your environment.
The app also provides access to Spotify, Tidal, internet radio and your device's media library. Dig deeper into the app, and you'll find some other cool features, like the abilities to add another Libratone product to the same soundscape or customize the timer on power-save mode. In addition, users struggling with the controls can pull up a digital copy of the product manual that's way more helpful than the instruction booklet in the box.
It's worth noting that Libratone asks you to log in to the app using a personal email or social media account and requests permission to access your device's location. My guess is that's so the Libratone can pick up local radio stations. Nonetheless, you can deny this permission and jump right into the app.
Call Quality and Connectivity
To my surprise, the Track+ works great as a calling headset. I made several test calls to my girlfriend, and she couldn't believe I was using headphones. The built-in mic picked up my voice without any interference. When I was trapped in rowdy settings, the headphones kept noise to a minimum.
I made several test calls to my girlfriend, and she couldn't believe I was using headphones.
Bluetooth held up well, allowing me to chat from different rooms in the apartment. Most of the current wireless headphones carry a range of up to 30 feet, but the Track+ extends coverage to 35 feet.
The standard for most ANC headphones is 8 hours of battery life. Libratone promises the same with noise cancellation on. However, the results I saw don't fit with what's advertised.
For starters, the Track+ came 50 percent charged straight out of the box, which was a considerable amount that I assumed would give me 2 to 3 hours of use. Nope. The headphones died near the end of my 1.5-hour workout.
On a full charge, they lasted around 6 hours max. Cranking up the volume and enabling CityMix drained the battery faster. The QuietComfort 30, which is rated at 10 hours, proved to be the better performer, giving me up to 8 hours with constant playback and noise cancelling turned on.
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The headphones do activate a bypass mode to save the battery when not in use. Also, they feature some type of quick-charging technology to fully charge the battery in an hour, so that counts for something. But you'll still want to keep a charger or portable battery on hand.
At $199, the Libratone Track+ is a great buy for anyone who values comfort and a robust soundstage. The design is on point, with sleek aesthetics and a durable construction that reinforces the headset's premium quality. I also think the fit and feel of the ear tips make listening to music and podcasts a pleasure in both public and private spaces.
I appreciated how well-balanced the mids and highs were. Instruments and vocals sound clean, with all music genres well-represented. Every level of CityMix does a fine job of shutting out noise at its specific decibel level. I wouldn't put these headphones in the same ANC ballpark as the QuietControl 30, but they're effective in muting ambient noise.
It's a shame that the restricted battery life shortens listening sessions. But any other gripes about the Track+ are far from deal-breakers, especially when taking overall performance into account. Libratone's wireless ANC headphones impressively hold their own in an increasingly crowded field.
Credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide