The La Boite Concept LD120 is a Bluetooth-powered desk with 120 watts of speaker packed inside. Made of real leather, piano wood and old-school tactile knobs, it's probably the most beautiful speaker you've ever laid eyes on, but at one-thousand-bleeding-quid, it's also damn expensive.
A desk. No, wait, a speaker. Or both. Who knows? La Boite describes it as "the first high end dock dedicated to the laptop", so goodness knows what that actually means.
Really, though, it's an unobtrusive, standalone speaker to go alongside your Philippe Starck chairs and Bang & Olufsen TV.
People with more money than sense.
It looks like a very small school desk. The top is about the size of an A3 piece of paper, made of leather, and slopes downwards very slightly. Behind that leather top, there's a narrow panel that houses the dials and switches, line in, and Bluetooth module. The legs, however, are made from piano wood, complete with that black hall-of-mirrors warped glossiness.
In terms of speakers, the LD120 is packing more than you'd expect from a humble desk. The main set of drivers is along the front edge, just inches away from your doubtlessly toned stomach when you're sitting down. To complement them, another set of mid-range drivers are positioned at an angle at the back of the desk, so that when placed against the wall, sound will bounce up and over you, cocooning you in a warm ball of Daft Punk (or that's the idea, anyway). Finishing it off is a subwoofer, which hides on the underside of the desk, gently vibrating your kneecaps.
All in all, it's a pretty stylish and unobtrusive package. Although you'd probably never really want to sit down and work at the desk -- it's just a little bit on the small side -- it certainly wouldn't look out of place in your super-hip studio apartment.
There's both standard 3.5mm line-in and Bluetooth connectivity, plus a whole extra USB soundcard for laptops. Using the line-in or the USB is pretty simple; the Bluetooth module is actually a £60 add-on extra, and lacks any buttons of any kind, so getting it to pair is a bit of a mission. Once you've got it connected, adjusting volume and bass/treble balance is a breeze, thanks to those old-school knobs stuck along the top edge.
Of course, the most important thing with any set of speakers is the sound quality. Here, you see where at least some of the £1,200 pricetag's gone. The sound is crisp, accurate, and loud enough to fill a good-sized room. The bass in particular is vertebrae-shattering -- the combination of the LD120; Spotify's filthiest dubstep and a bass dial that went all the way to Spinal Tap was enough to get us excommunicated from the office.
Although the La Boite website boasts "The Exclusive Wide Stereo Sound", the two channels are about as different and separated as Ant and Dec. Even sitting down, head next to speaker in the 'hunting-for-your-pen position', it's difficult to tell left from right. If you're not standing directly in the line of fire, you'd have literally zero chance.
- The Bluetooth adapter feels quite hacked-on. It plugs into a power socket on the control panel, which was originally intended for your laptop charger. As a result, the Bluetooth range is quite limited, and you can't use that socket for your laptop if you've got the Bluetooth module plugged in. It's also a horrifically inelegant solution for something that costs over a grand.
- The glossy piano wood might look nice, but like all glossy piano wood, it becomes a fingerprinted mess if you lovingly stroke it even once.
- It's worth pointing out that thanks to a source selection knob, you can have three things connected at once (USB, Bluetooth and Line-In) and just switch between them without having to disconnect.
This is normally where we compare the product to the competition, but this particular product is so batshit-crazy it exists in a product category all by itself. If you're looking for an awesome-sounding one-stop music station in an unobtrusive, stylish package that won't look out of place next to your fixie bike in your Shoreditch apartment, then look no further (assuming you've got a grand to burn on said music station, of course).
If, however, you just want some kind of music-playing device that doesn't look too technological, you'd probably be served better by a soundbar, or a high-quality speaker dock. Hell, some of them even look pretty good. But hey, it's your money -- just don't blame us when you can't afford your next ribbon of typewriter ink.
La Boite Concept LD120
Price: £1,000 (plus £60 for the Bluetooth adapter)
Speakers: Stereo with subwoofer, 120 watts RMS
Inputs: USB, dual RCA phono, Bluetooth