Libratone’s Zipp Airplay Speakers are visually striking and give a big sound, especially for a portable speaker you can take to the beach!!
The great Danes at Libratone first brought us the Libratone Live and then the super-expensive Libratone Lounge. Now the Zipp has arrived and we really like it.
The Libratone Zipp allows you to connect your iOS devices to it directly via AirPlay as they are designed to be portable and you won’t be able to take wireless network with you.
This feature is called “PlayDirect“. It allows you to connect your device to the Zipp with the simple press of a button. It creates an ad hoc wireless connection.
Using AirPlay instead of Bluetooth means you benefit from better sound quality but if you are using PlayDirect then you pay the price of losing your Wi-Fi network connection.
This can be a pain as it means that you can no longer stream content to your device from services such as Spotify or Rdio, leaving you only able to play the music locally stored on the device when out and about.
There is a workaround involving using a static IP etc but it was disappointing that this has to be done.
However, if you are using the Zipp when at home on a proper wireless network then you don’t need to use PlayDirect and can use it as a normal AirPlay speaker.
It also works as a DLNA speaker if you have the more recent firmware update, and it comes with a mini-jack connection as well.
Inside the Zipp are two 1-inch ribbon tweeters and a single 4-inch bass driver, all of which fire in different directions. One thing is for sure, the Zipp can’t match the midrange detail or bass response of the flagship Lounge speaker, but the Zipp does sound better than average in a small room.
It sounds best at low to medium volumes but if you crank it up and the sound starts to suffer. Distortion and hiss kick in sooner than they should on a speaker this expensive.
However, the sound is still better than most Bluetooth speakers. It has a fullness that other small speakers lack.
Libratone’s companion iOS app also gives you the ability to tweak the speaker’s output, so you can optimise it to sound better in different locations (as long as you don’t want to turn it up too loud, that is).
Size & Colours
The Zipp is about 10 inches tall and just under 5 inches in diameter. The cylindrical speaker weighs around 4 pounds and has a leather strap on top for easy carrying.
When you buy the Zipp you get one wool sleeve. There is an option to spend a little more and get three sleeves, all of different colours. You can also buy the wool covers individually to get just the look you want. There are 8 colours to choose from.
Design And Controls
The Zipp’s minimalist design means ghat here are only a few buttons on it. An LED on the glossy, white top flashes colours to indicate battery life and connection status and simple + and – buttons let you change the volume.
There is a battery indicator light on the back and there are two buttons that let you change between local Wi-Fi mode and PlayDirect. There are also ports for plugging AUX or USB devices in directly.
The battery life is stated as being able to give you between 4 and 8 hours of playback. It is more like 4.
The sound is solid, standard AirPlay use is nice and simple, the PlayDirect feature works fine and it looks really cool, especially in some of the vibrant colours you can have.
However, its not cheap and PlayDirect is fine if you don’t want to have a data connection on the driving device whilst connected.
That being said. The fidelity you get is better than most Bluetooth alternatives but we just wish it was a bit cheaper to offset some of the shortcomings.