Wireless Headphones: Libratone Q Adapt On-Ear Review
If you’ve been reading this website over the past six months, you would have seen the audio brand Libratone mentioned a few times. For those who still aren’t aware of the brand, they’re growing niche player in the music audio space. Not too long ago, they introduced two pairs of headphones onto the market, their first entries beyond the portable speaker sector. These products were called the Q Adapt in-ear and Q Adapt on-ear headphones. Fast forward to today, and we’ve got our hands on the latter, their on-ear headphones. So how does this product stack up? Let’s take a closer look in this Libratone Q Adapt on-ear review.
• Creative, modern design
• Solid construction, flexible, yet sturdy
• Feature reach with impressive sound
• Very comfortable fit
• Great battery life ≥ 20 hours
• Bass may not be strong enough for some folks
• Only two color patterns available
• $249 price tag may be too expensive for some
Q Adapt Design and Features
Upon first glance, you may have said to yourself that the Q Adapt on-ear headphones have a simple, basic design. What you don’t realize, and I say this from an engineering design perspective, is that often the simplest and most basic looking designs are the most complicated to pull off. Achieving the right look and feel are no easy feat, yet Libratone did just that with their Q Adapt on-ear headphones.
Because this is a review website, we’ve had the pleasure of trying dozens of headphones. We know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to each of them. With the Q Adapt on-ear, the fit and comfort level are spot on.
Until recently, I used to wear over-ear headphones when working at the home office, mostly to shut off the outside world and focus on the task at hand. When I tell you these ear cups feel like butter, I mean they feel like butter. They’re so soft with just the right amount of padding that you can wear them for hours straight. It’s what I do.
The first time I tried the Q Adapt headphones was at CES2017. I recall having said to the Libratone representative that they’re so soft that they felt “like butter.” I was, of course, referring to the Mike Myers SNL skit ‘Coffee Talk with Linda Richman.’ For you young folks out there, Google it.
The ear cup design looks like one-half of a miniaturized whoopie pie. With that said, don’t be the one fool in the country to bite into it. Right and left sides are nearly indistinguishable, and that’s okay. Even though they’re lightly marked, I often wear the headphones backward with zero negative impact.
As you see in the images above and below, one side has the power button, while the other has the CityMix™ button, microphone, audio and charging cable inputs, and the volume adjustment which you actually can’t see. Adjusting the volume is a matter of circling a finger around the outer right cup. It’s that easy. You don’t need to press anything. The right cup also contains Play and Pause features as well as the Libratone logo which can be lit or not from their app.
The outer material of the headband is the same woven fabric material found on the One Click speaker. As I stated months ago, it’s not only eye-catching, but it’s also durable. Adjusting the headband is simple. If you’ve tried B&O headphones, then you already know how easy it is. Adjustment is silent, and everything holds in place via friction.
One final feature to mention is the ability to play the same music across two Q Adapt on-ear headphones. This can be achieved through the app using the Plus 1 feature via these instructions. I tried to play two different Libratone products (One Click and Adapt on-ear) simultaneously with Plus 1, but could not achieve the desired result. No matter, there’s a way to get around this and link two products via the SoundSpace settings.
In the SoundSpace settings, it’s very easy to link and unlink two products. Furthermore, you can listen to your music in one of three modes: Dual, Stereo-1, and Stereo-2, and in one of nine music fields. (These are listed further down in the App portion of this review.) Dual mode plays music simultaneously across both products while Stereo-1 and -2 can send left and right channels to either of the two products. Suffice to say; the music sounds odd when you hear only one channel of audio in the headphones. When volume control is adjusted on one product, it affects the other. Pretty neat.
And I didn’t even mention the hush mode, wear detection, or the ability to access Siri or internet radio.
The speaker is available in two colors: Stormy Black and Cloudy White. I believe a third color, let’s say brown, would be a welcome addition.
Fully charging the battery takes approximately 3 hours and is handled via a supplied cable.
The headphones have a height of 7.5″, an ear cup diameter of 2.4″ and weighs in at 7 ounces.
What’s In The Box?
- Q Adapt On-Ear Headphones
- Protective Transport Pouch
- 3.5mm Audio Cable
- USB 2.0 Charging Cable
- Quick Guide
Adjustable Noise Cancellation / CityMix™
What the heck is CityMix™?
CityMix™ is the trademarked name for Libratone’s adjustable noise cancellation system. Per the table below, you can see what levels or outside noise pass to your ears. Does it work as well as they advertise? The answer is “Oh heck yeah.”
As I stated earlier, I’ll wear these headphones at the home office just for their noise-cancelling properties, with or without music. At Beantown, we’ve got a quite a few ANC headphones to choose from such as the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2, but the ANC headphone of choice here is the Q Adapt on-ear.
• CityMix™ Level 1
• CityMix™ Level 2
• CityMix™ Level 3
• CityMix™ Level 4
• Pass through sound, 80% outside noise
• Passive ANC, 60% outside noise
• Medium ANC, 30% outside noise
• Complete ANC, <10% outside noise
Audio Performance & Playlist
• Lana Del Rey – Born To Die, Paradise
• Lorde – Pure Heroine
• The Prodigy – Invaders Must Die
• Shinedown – Amaryllis
• 30 Second To Mars – This is War
• My Chemical Romance – The Black Parade
• Mumford and Sons – Babel
• Imagine Dragons – Night Visions
I say this time and time again when reviewing speakers and headphones; the most important performance factor is the quality of sound. Using the playlist above, the Q Adapt on-ear headphones were tested across a broad range of music. Songs within each album were sampled against comparable $200 headphones selected from the samples collection, and results were noted.
The Q Adapt produced excellent vocals, which were vivid and clear. The vocal reproduction of the 3 L’s (Lana Del Rey, Lady Gaga, and Lorde) was impressive.
The headphones took a balanced approach to sound quality with reasonably good bass reproduction. One notable exception was with Imagine Dragons album Night Visions. Finding a pair of $200-250 headphones that can accurately reproduce the marching band bass drum in the song Radioactive has been impossible to date.
I tested the Libratone Q Adapt on-ear against more than ten albums. Playback of rock and alt-rock albums from 30 Seconds to Mars, Mumford and Sons, and My Chemical Romance was terrific. Listening to Lady Gaga’s Born This Way was a delight. The engineering that goes into her albums yielded huge sound without any distortions.
The negative takeaway I had with the Libratone One Click speaker, that was with the missing finger snapping sounds on Emeli Sandé’s song Wonder, has been rectified with the Q Adapt on-ear. They’re there.
We’re not going to cover the app in detail here as it’s been covered in depth in an earlier Libratone review, notably the One Click speaker. You’re encouraged to check out that review and the discussion on the app by clicking on the first inline post in this review. BTW, that speaker is most excellent.
• Easy Listening
• Soft & Comfortable
• Rock the House
• Movie Mode
• Live Concert
First, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention something about the packaging on Libratone’s product. The packaging is a designer’s dream; it’s top notch, something you would see from brands who charge multiples more for their products.
When it comes to the protective transport pouch, my advice would be to keep the padding exactly where it is. Don’t toss it out. While the pouch would prevent the headphones from getting scratched or torn when you carry it around in let’s say a shoulder bag, it’s the padding that would protect the Q Adapt from getting inadvertently crushed.
Definitively speaking, these headphones are a contender in the $200-250 ANC on-ear/over-ear headphone category. They produce great sound while being super comfortable.
Usually, these headphones are priced at $249.99. Now that they’re a bit less at $219.99, they’re worth an even longer look. The Libratone Q Adapt on-ear headphones are available for purchase on Amazon or the Libratone website.
What do you think of this Libratone Q Adapt on-ear review? Do you agree or disagree with our verdict? Let us know in the comment section below or via social media. We’re eager to hear your thoughts.
Don’t hesitate to head over to the Libratone home page to see their newest products. To learn more about warranties, click this link for Libratone US Warranty information. They also have a free 30-day return policy.
FTC Disclosure: Libratone provided Beantown LLC with one (1) Libratone Q Adapt on-ear headphones sample for review purposes. This writer’s opinion is 100% his own and not a paid product ambassador.
All photographs are the copyrighted property of Beantown LLC © 2017.