Bluetooth speakers are great for listening on the go but what if you want a speaker that works just as well inside the home as it does on the go?
Libratone thinks it has the solution with its Zipp wireless speaker.
It’d be easy to mistake the $299 (£249, around AU$395) Libratone Zipp for yet another Bluetooth speaker you can take on the go but it has a hidden trick up its sleeve: Wi-Fi. With it, the Zipp supports Apple AirPlay and DLNA streaming over your wireless network for better range and sound quality than Bluetooth.
If you’re in the market for a beautifully designed speaker to use primarily in the home but want the flexibility to take your tunes on the go, you should seriously consider the Libratone Zipp.
The design of the Libratone Zipp will appeal to those who enjoy the minimalism of Scandinavian aesthetics. The Zipp is a large cylindrical speaker that has a soft cloth jacket that literally zips into place, hence the name. You can customize your Zipp to your liking with different color jackets. There’s also a simple leather strap for moving the speaker around.
Our review Zipp speaker came in the stealthy Nordic Black color that will appeal to fans of matte black, but the Zipp comes in eight other colors including Signal Yellow and Victory Red.
Continuing the theme of minimalism, the Zipp features a circular light up touch panel that controls everything from volume, playback, speaker pairing and quick access to favorite internet radio stations.
On the base of the Libratone Zipp you’ll find the power button, charging port, 3.5mm aux jack and a USB-A port for topping up your phone on the go. One cumbersome detail about the charging port is that it is proprietary. This means you’ll have to use the included wall charger, which looks good but has the fatal flaw of blocking an outlet while in use. It’s also annoying that you can’t use USB-C to charge, which most accessories are moving toward.
The Libratone Zipp is a big speaker and with it comes big sound. The Zipp gets seriously loud and is capable of filling a large room with beautifully balanced sound. In fact, it gets as loud if not louder than the equally large .
Bass has meaty authority to the point where it’ll rattle objects on a table so place the speaker on a surface that won’t rattle if you plan on bumping your tunes loudly.
The overall sound signature of the Zipp is neautral with a slight warmth in the mid-bass region. Highs are energetic and violins are represented with good timbre. Vocals sound equally good so the Zipp is perfect for vocal music like Norah Jones and even podcasts.
In the past, some reviewers complained about Libratone’s touch controls being finicky and not registering 100% of the time. Libratone took the feedback and updated the software on the speaker to work much better, registering most taps and swipes the first time. However, we still found tapping to pause and resume music took an extra second too long to register.
Now what sets the Libratone Zipp apart from the competition is the inclusion of Wi-Fi support in the form of Apple AirPlay and DLNA support. This means you can connect the Zipp to your home network to roll your own multi-room sound system. In fact, you can pair up to six Zipp speakers to play the same song simultaneously so you never miss a beat while moving around the house.
So is the Libratone Zipp a Sonos competitor? The short answer is no. Sonos has a more seamless mesh networking system that makes it super simple to play music from a variety of sources. Sonos doesn’t rely on Apple’s AirPlay technology and that means a more stable and seamless multi-room listening experience. However, Sonos lives strictly in the house as its speakers don’t have batteries to use on the go, something the Libratone allows you to do.
Throughout our week of testing, the Zipp worked flawlessly via AirPlay to stream our tunes and favorite internet radio stations. If you’re an Android user however, there’s no Google Cast support getting the Zipp to play nicely via DLNA is a pain as not many Android apps support the protocol. This means you’ll have to resort to the Bluetooth connection if you’re an Android user, negating the multitude of benefits with Wi-Fi streaming like better sound quality and range.
One last thing to note is that battery life is a relatively short 10 hours. We expected more from a speaker of this size. Wi-Fi understandably kills the battery quicker than if it were strictly a Bluetooth speaker but Libratone should consider adding a bigger battery in the next generation. For reference, the aforementioned lasts twice as long but is Bluetooth-only.
After spending a week with the Libratone Zipp, it’s clearly the best speaker Libratone makes. Where we found the company’s portable speaker anemic in the bass department, the Zipp offers furniture-rattling bass that doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the audio spectrum.
This is one seriously good sounding speaker. No, you won’t get stereo separation since it’s a 360-degree speaker but it also means you get the same great sound no matter where you are in the room.
As for the Wi-Fi and multi-room functions, the Zipp works best with iOS devices. Android users are better off looking at Sonos products for a true multi-room mesh network speaker setup. In fact, if you only care about multi-room audio in the home, Sonos is the way to go.
If you want the flexibility of taking speakers outdoors while also being able to sync up to six speakers together, the Libratone Zipp is a good choice.
- Don't miss our round-up of the best Bluetooth speakers of 2017