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Libratone Zipp review: A Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speaker that’ll shake your room

Christopher Minasians Richard Easton
31 May 2017
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
250
inc VAT

The Libratone Zipp can extend multiroom music even into your garden, and the 360 sound is great

Pros 
Earth shattering bass
Libratone's SoundSpace Link support
Design and build quality
Cons 
Price tag
App functionalities
Closed soundstage
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Libratone has always associated itself with distinctive designs and customisation, much like its fellow Scandinavian audio company Bang & Olufsen. Libratone has more often than not used luxury materials such as wool, as was the case when we reviewed the Libratone Diva, the company’s soundbar option.

Libratone’s design aesthetic remains consistent with its Zipp speaker, which shouldn’t be confused with the older 'Classic' version that only supports Bluetooth. The current variant, and the one reviewed here, has some important additions, one of which is Libratone’s SoundSpace Link support, which lets you connect up to six speakers (including the smaller Libratone Zipp Mini) into a multiroom system. The built-in Wi-Fi also adds support for Apple AirPlay, Spotify Connect (which requires a Spotify Premium account) and internet radio.

Libratone Zipp review: Tl;dr

With its multiroom abilities through Libratone's SoundSpace Link, Bluetooth aptX and multiple connectivity options, the Zipp is a perfect companion, no matter your source. 

Its stunning design and beautiful set of colours mean the Zipp will slot into any household. Despite being a pricey wireless speaker, its cost is justified by its impressive sound quality, which can fill a room. Its sonic capabilities mean the Zipp can produce a powerful and precise sound that results in an excellent speaker for outdoor gatherings or indoor raves.

READ NEXT: Best Bluetooth speakers 2017: Portable, indoor waterproof and budget Bluetooth speakers

Libratone Zipp review: Price and competition

The Zipp can be found for £250, making it an extremely expensive wireless speaker. As far as Bluetooth speakers go, you can buy the UE BOOM 2 for under £100, and the Audio Pro Addon T3 and the Monitor Audio S150 for under £200.

The smaller variant, the Zipp Mini (at £170) is also an alternative to the regular-sized Zipp.

READ NEXT: Libratone Zipp Mini - SoundSpace Link portable multiroom speakers

Libratone Zipp review: Build quality and design

The Zipp is a cylindrical, almost drum-like, speaker with a detachable cover from which it derives its name. Using a simple zip you can remove the existing cover and replace it with a different colour, should you feel the need to inject a little customisation or personality. If you have multiple speakers changing the covers also helps to identify which is which.

Despite having been released in 2015, Libratone has added two new colours in 2017. You'll now be able to find it in seven different colours: Deep Lagoon (green), Victory Red, Cloudy (light) Grey, Graphite (dark) Grey, Nordic Black, Pastel Blue and in Nude. Additional covers are available for £19, and open up even more colour options.

The covers themselves are made from a mesh fabric with a diamond-shaped weave that is soft to the touch. Libratone also has a 'Copenhagen Edition' of its Zipp range, which comes with Italian wool covers, aluminium bases on the speaker itself and a leather strap handle rather than the fabric strap of the standard model.

You’ll have to pay extra for the premium materials, however, with the Zipp Copenhagen Edition priced around £330 and the Zipp Mini Copenhagen Edition around £290. The Copenhagen Edition wool covers are available for £29, and the leather handle comes in at £15 if you want to upgrade your regular Zipp but you’ll miss out on the base of the actual Copenhagen Edition speakers.

The handle alludes to the Zipp’s portability. It weighs only 1.5kg but owing to its shape it feels solid and suitably weighty. The handle means it can be conveniently carried around the house with you. Because there’s a built-in battery, you’re not tethered to a power outlet so you can even take it outside into the garden. Carrying it further afield might be a little more unwieldy.

The speaker is not waterproof or rugged, however, so don’t leave it outside at the mercy of the elements. It is humidity-resistant, though, so you can take it in the bathroom with you when taking a shower. The battery is rated at between 8 to 10 hours, which is plenty to get you through a party or social gathering.

READ NEXT: UE Boom 2 review

Libratone Zipp review: Touch controls

The top of the Zipp has a circular touch interface that responds to swipes for volume control. By dragging your finger around the circumference it emulates a volume dial, with a light effect that follows your finger. It’s both satisfying and slick. You can tap on the touch surface to play and pause, skip tracks, turn on the SoundSpace Link function and access your favourite internet radio stations

A particularly elegant function is 'Hush', which temporarily mutes the speaker when you place your hand over the touch interface. As soon as you remove it, the volume increases to the previous volume level. If multiple speakers are linked together, Hush will only turn down the volume on that individual speaker, so it’s a better alternative to pausing the music and potentially disrupting other listeners.

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Libratone Zipp review: Setup, App and Connectivity

Libratone Zipp app wireless setup

The Libratone app for iOS and Android will take you through the process of providing your wireless network details. Frustratingly, the setup process on Android would never work for us when using a Google Nexus 6. It would say that the speaker had connected successfully but then fall back to the wireless network password entry screen reporting a ‘Network Connection Error’. This happened with different routers as well. Fortunately, you’re also able to set up the speaker through a browser on a computer. You’ll just need to connect directly to the speaker’s wireless network and then access the speaker’s assigned IP address. Usually, this will be http://192.168.1.1, but we strangely found the speaker at http://192.168.1.6. Once you've found and logged into the Zipp, you can then enter your wireless network password.

Once you’ve got the Zipp connected to your home network, you have a range of options for accessing music and audio. If you’re using an Apple device, you’ve got access to AirPlay. On Windows and Android devices you can connect to the Zipp as a DLNA speaker. Additionally, the Zipp is Spotify Connect compatible, so if you have a Spotify Premium subscription you can control the speaker from within the Spotify app. Otherwise, you can simply use Bluetooth or the 3.5mm stereo connection, neither of which require the speaker to have a Wi-Fi network connection (unless you want to link up multiple speakers). There’s also a USB port so you can play audio files from a flash drive and the full range of audio formats is supported. Not only that, but the USB port can be used to charge a device, albeit at 5V/1A, so not particularly quickly.

If you pair a smartphone over Bluetooth (aptX), you can also use the Zipp as a hands-free speakerphone thanks to the microphone, which is a useful inclusion. In a small room the microphone could still pick up our voice from 3-4m away, making the Zipp one of the best conference speakers we’ve used. Bluetooth range is rated at around 10m. We didn’t have any problems maintaining a connection with the speaker at home, even when the Zipp was on the ground floor and our smartphone on the first. Its aptX codec support is also great for getting the most out of the speaker, as you'll be able to play CS quality songs through a compatible device.

The app can be used to group different Zipp and Zipp Mini speakers into groups, or 'SoundSpaces' as Libratone would have you call them. This is done by tapping and dragging floating bubbles representing each speaker together, in a similar way to Sony’s multiroom speakers. Alternatively, you can use the SoundSpace button on each speaker. Just start playback on one, hit the SoundSpace Link button, then press the button on each additional speaker.

SoundSpace Link allows up to six speakers per group, eight different groups and a maximum of 16 speakers on a single wireless network (equating to eight groups with two speakers each or any other configuration that stays within the limits). You can also link a pair of speakers into dedicated left and right stereo pairs.

With SoundSpace Link turned on, all speakers in that particular group will play music simultaneously, regardless of source. So you can have music being streamed through AirPlay, DLNA, Bluetooth, mini-jack, USB or even from Spotify Connect (the grouped speakers appear as one speaker in the Spotify app). The ability to synchronise a Bluetooth source is much like Philips’ Izzy range of speakers but having the other options is a real boon.

READ NEXT: Audio Pro Addon T3 review - Bluetooth speaker with personality

Libratone Zipp review: Sound Quality

Libratone has managed to pack an impressive amount of drive units into the cylindrical cabinet. There’s a 4in neodymium woofer and two 1in soft dome neodymium tweeters. These are supported by two 4in low-frequency radiators. These have been positioned to evenly disperse sound in every direction in what Libratone calls 360-degree FullRoom sound. This isn’t dissimilar to the Samsung R5’s '360' omnidirectional sound.

The most prominent aspect of the Zipp’s sound is its emphatic bass, which is delivered with more punch you would expect for a speaker of its size and build. There’s pleasing force behind the Zipp's sound but it remains tight. The mids and trebles, while not the crispest, aren’t lost among the lower frequencies. The Zipp outputs 100W and it can easily fill a medium- to large-sized room.

The 360-degree sound is no empty promise, either. If you position the speaker in the centre of a room you’re greeted with evenly dispersed sound. Through the app you can change the sound profiles and EQ settings, too. However, its soundstage is a tad disappointing as it is rather closed. I would have also liked to witness better instrument separation. Still, the Zipp sounds great.

Libratone Zipp review: Verdict

There’s a lot to like about the Libratone Zipp. It takes multiroom principles and applies true portability with its built-in battery and design. Provided you’re able to maintain a wireless connection to your router, you can take the music outside into your garden. Its ability to synchronise audio from a multitude of audio sources makes it incredibly versatile and its sound quality doesn’t disappoint. There are some thoughtful features like being able to charge devices over USB and the addition of the handle if you want to hang the speaker. It's also a stone throw cheaper than the Samsung R5, that is if you seek a room-filling 360-degree speaker.

The only minor annoyance was the fiddly setup process over Android, but there’s a fail-safe alternative set-up option at least. If you’re looking for a versatile multiroom speaker that’s not limited by streaming compatibility issues and have £250 to spare, the Libratone Zipp is a fantastic choice.

Hardware
Speakers5
RMS power output100W
Audio inputs3.5mm stereo
Audio outputsNone
Dock connectorNone
USB port1x USB input/charging
Memory card supportNone
NetworkingBluetooth (aptX), dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi
NFCNo
App supportiOS, Android
Battery capacityNot disclosed
Dimensions261x122x122mm
Weight1.5kg
Streaming
Streaming formatsAirPlay, DLNA, Bluetooth
Supported serversDLNA
Audio formatsMP3, FLAC, Wav, OGG, AAC, AIFF, ALAC
Internet streaming servicesBluetooth Apps, Spotify Connect, Apple Music
Buying information
Price including VAT£250
WarrantyOne year RTB
Supplierwww.libratone.com
Detailswww.libratone.com
Part codeLH0032010EU2001