18th May2014

‘Libratone Zipp’ Speaker Review

by Phil Wheat

Libratone-Zipp

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a Libratone speaker – but when you have something as superb as the Libratone Live there’s not really any need to upgrade is there? Well that is until now.

Copenhagen-based audio company Libratone have taken the concept of the Airplay speaker to the next level with the Libratone Zipp. This the first and only device to deliver the performance and convenience of AirPlay without the need for a router and complicated setup, thanks to Libratone’s all-new PlayDirect technology which works in conjunction with AirPlay technology, creating a direct Wi-Fi connection between the speaker and any compatible device. Which means, like other products in the Libratone family I’ve road-tested, the Libratone Zipp works seamlessly with iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and Mac.

But what gives this speaker it’s name is the ability to vary the appearance by switching the changeable wool covers into one of eight available colours, just by “zipping” the cover off. Although I will admit I found changing the covers a little tricky – you have to stretch the new covers around the speaker, hold them in place AND zip them together – I felt like I needed a third hand! The colours include Salty Grey, Pepper Black, Pineapple Yellow, Raspberry Red, Passion Pink, Plum Purple, Petrol Blue and Icy Blue – included in the box in the lower-priced unit are the Salty Grey and Raspberry Red covers, for an extra £40 (RRP) you can upgrade to the 3-pack-colour units with two extra wool zip-on covers included.

Sound-wise the Libratone Zipp is exactly what I want from a portable speaker, i.e.it gets very loud and there’s a ton of bass – enough in fact to vibrate the table I tested the speaker on. Setup is a doddle – just follow the quick start guide included in the pack and you can be up and running in less time than it will take to decided what track to play first. As an FYI, the first track I tested the Libratone Zipp with was DJ Khaled’s All I Do Is Win, which sounded superb blasting out of the Zipp at volume – as did my other go to “test track”, Country Folks by Bubba Sparxxx. Libratone’s latest speaker once again knocks it out of the park when it comes to sound quality – this speaker, which measures a (realtively) tiny 26cm x 12cm dia. pumps out 60w, which frankly to my admittedly amateur ear sounds more like 100w!

The real selling point of the Libratone Zipp is of course the PlayDirect function which lets you stream music to the speaker without a network using an ad-hoc connection – which, coupled with the Zipp’s four-hour rechargeable battery, means you can take this speaker (and the party) literally anywhere! Of course wireless speakers have been around for ages, but those use Bluetooth and as anyone whose reviewed Bluetooth speakers will tell you, that technology uses compression whereas Airplay – and by extension PlayDirect – is a lossless technology, which means the sound quality (especially at the lower and higher ranges) sounds a lot better.

Of course there is a downside – PlayDirect doesn’t work with Android or Windows phones and it hogs your Wi-Fi connection often meaning you can’t connect to the web via wi-fi whilst using the function. Then of course there’s the price. The “basic” unit retails at £329.99 and the 3-pack-colour version at £369.99, which is a LOT of money to pay for a speaker, even if that speaker offers something completely new to the market.

But if you’ve got the money the Libratone Zipp is easily one of the best-sounding and best-looking portable wireless speakers out there today.

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