A rejection of anything too new-fangled and techy continues in the way you get sound into the La Boite Concept LD 100. There's no wireless audio transmission here, just a USB port to plug in a laptop and a phono stereo input for other sources.
It's simple, but far from dumb. The La Boite Concept LD 100 features a high-quality Burr-Brown DAC that bypasses the generally poor quality audio circuitry found in most laptops. La Boite Concept includes a phono-to- 3.5mm jack cable in the box too, making it a doddle to plug in an MP3 player or smartphone.
For all its compactness, the La Boite Concept LD 100 puts most other lounge-happy systems to shame in the scale and muscularity of sound it can produce – iPod/iPhone docks in particular. Models higher up the La Boite Concept range incorporate larger subwoofer drivers, but the relatively traditional speaker design approach here pays dividends.
The impressive volume and size of sound the LD 100 produce is down to two main properties. First, the mid/bass drivers are of a decent size, five inches a piece, and there's decent speaker cabinet volume in which the sound can percolate. You wouldn't expect a desk to be able to supply the tunes for a house party, but this studious little number certainly can. A remote control is included too, letting you change the source, volume and treble/bass response.
However, there are issues that highlight how much you are paying for the clever design and concept. Bass depth is not hugely impressive, as you would expect from a pair of conjoined bookshelf speakers, and neither is treble headroom. Imaging is just ok, lacking the transparency and detail of a higher-end speaker. If you're after real high-end sound in a package like this, you'll need to check out the LD 120 and LD 130, which offer uprated main drivers and tweeters.
The La Boite Concept LD 100 may only offer sound quality to compete with entry-level hifi equipment, but that doesn't mean it's terrible value. You need to consider what the package offers. It's more than just a pair of speakers bunged into a desk, it's also an amplifier and a high-quality DAC – something that people are increasingly willing to spend serious money on.
Pinpointing the people for whom the La Boite Concept LD 100 is the perfect lifestyle solution is tricky, though. It's a bit pricey for most students, and older city-dwellers with studio flats are arguably better sacrificing some space around the telly for a more familiar stereo setup. However, if you have a small study or home office that needs to be livened up with some tunes, this is a seriously novel way to get what you're after.
The La Boite Concept LD 100 is an interesting and unusual gadget. It’s a compact desk that includes an internal amplifier, DAC and set of speakers. For the cash-rich and space poor, it makes a lot of sense, offering “high-end” iPod dock-matching sound quality without demanding any more floor space than a compact computer desk. You can get significantly better sound from a dedicated hi-fi at the price, but both the idea and execution simply work. A gimmick it may seem, but a gimmick it is not.