You should know right away that Libratone have made one of the best portable speakers we've ever used with the Libratone Zipp. The speaker is unique in that it has the functional ability to redesign its image and it broadcasts unbelievable audio. This is one you don't want to miss and it's also the most affordable Libratone speaker within the lineup.
Design & Colours
The Libratone Zipp is available in an extensive range of ambient and lower key colours making it not just a speaker but a tailored part of your furniture when used indoors. This is the reason this speaker is called the Zipp, a zipped cover sleeve made from Italian wool wraps around the entire unit.Removing the cover and attaching a new one is easy to do, so we found ourselves changing the cover frequently just to keep it looking fresh and new within our studio.
Two different packaged variations of the Zipp are available, one called Funky and another called Classic. Each variant has three different colours included within the box, Funky comes with a pepper black, passion pink and pineapple yellow. The Classic variant, which is the one we have, included pepper black, raspberry red and petrol blue. You can also purchase the speaker with just one Italian wool zipped cover for a RRP of $399.95, however, every additional colour costs a steep $49.95. So the two variants with three included cover colours which run for $449.95 will strike a saving if more colours are desired.
The cylindrical shape of the Zipp is simple, minimal and zen-like. The top of the unit is coated in a sleek white glossy plastic and the bottom has a black rubber grip that keeps the upright shape sturdy and solid on most surfaces. It's a speaker that screams 'look at me, I'm fun'. It measures 12 inches in height and weighs 1.8kg/4 pounds, but don't let the size fool you, audio output will definitely surprise, but we'll get into this later.
On top of the speaker is a circular button to turn the speaker on and off from a single press and running along the outside of this is a ring button which enables the adjustment of volume (of the actual device streaming the audio, which is our preferred method of adjustment), there is also a status indicator to show when the Zipp is searching for a network or device.
Functioning either of these modes is done from one press of a button respective of each mode. These buttons are hidden within a panel which also houses a USB 2.0 port, a battery status indicator and an auxiliary input all underneath the hand strap. Sliding the hand strap sideways will reveal the panel. We particularly admire this element of the design, it really magnifies how much attention to detail Libratone have applied on the Zipp making sure its exterior image is clean and organic.
Like the Libratone Live speaker which we reviewed last year, this uses AirPlay which is technology that works with Apple products as a method of connectivity, which we found Libratone's implementation of to be non troublesome. However, using Android and other devices is possible via dlna, and Libratone explain how to setup such devices with the speaker on their website via this technology. AirPlay speakers are an area in the market that are ever expanding and we have been completely satisfied with the Zipp's implementation when compared to some of its competitors. The reasons for this are simple, it connects to Wi-Fi networks almost instantly and replicates the exact range of the network too; even on the fringes of range it performs strongly. The advantage of AirPlay is that it streams lossless audio wirelessly that doesn't break up or lag, in this scenario it doesn't suffer from either of these. What we found rather exciting is that, unlike the Libratone Live, this has a feature called PlayDirect. Essentially this strips the reliance of a Wi-Fi network and allows the speaker itself to broadcast its own independent Wi-Fi network. This provides greater freedom to listen to music anywhere with a range of 50+ meters, which is essential as this is a portable speaker.
To our surprise Libratone managed to pack a battery that lasts four hours when used wirelessly and eight hours when used with an auxiliary cable, it sounds unlikely but we've tested it to its claim and we can confirm that it does indeed last this long with near full level volume. The inclusion of such impressive battery life is an element that truly makes the Zipp a desirable speaker to take outdoors for parties and events. That and its compact design. The battery isn't just consumed by the Zipp though, the ability to charge devices from it via USB 2.0 is also available and works a treat. And it is strong enough to charge an iPad.
Of course, most importantly, the speaker projects sound beautifully, giving a depth and clarity that continues throughout a full 360 degrees around the console, meaning that it can be placed centrally in a room with no loss of performance from any angle. This is because it contains some pretty impressive technology, with speakers outputting right around that attractive cylindrical shape. These include a great 4-inch bass driver and dual ribbon based tweeters. In fact the bass is really exceptional, and with the digital signal processing and digital amplification the Libratone Zipp delivers a deep and resolute sound that carries all styles of music right into your soul. The top end pronounces staggering clarity and mids are free and airy. When used for speech the Zipp has a clear and crisp quality that is helped by Apple's AirPlay lossless technology which guarantees an exact audio transfer rate.
So, this FullRoom 2.1 wireless stereo amplification sound is achieved through a great and simple design that gives a truly amazing 60watt output that doesn't reverberate. It definitely has no trouble filling a room with sound, outdoors it also sounds terrific and fills opens spaces with ease. However, the Libratone Zipp sounds a tad better when plugged into the mains in comparison to when it's being powered by its built-in battery. Also worth noting is the lack of true stereo separation in any single speaker system, although that's not to say elements within tracks weren't individually distinguishable. We can't help but smile when we glance down at the speaker and truly appreciate its size, Libratone have definitely engineered a marvel here.
The Libratone App
Adjustment of the audio output can of course be tweaked with most devices built in EQ settings, however Libratone supply their own App which works harmoniously with the Zipp. We tested the App out on iOS devices and its main intention is to allow the user to adapt the speaker within the environment it plays for optimised FullRoom sound. So you can tell the App how far away the Zipp is from walls to optimise performance and seven very different EQ settings are built in too. Changing the EQ settings was quite startling, as the speaker could radically rewrite its style of sound. However we decided that the default neutral setting was the all-round best.
The Libratone Zipp is a speaker that hosts its own unique and playful character which happens to have a serious edge and pump out staggering audio performance. There is always a question as to whether a speaker in this price range is worth the money and in this case we'd have to sum up by saying yes it is, if you're looking for a portable (superb battery life), stylish and strong performing speaker.