If you are looking for something more than just a Bluetooth portable speaker, the Libratone ZIPP is your answer. The ZIPP tries to be everything a typical portable speaker is not making it a tidy little package full of features that you would find on a premium multi-room system.
Go beyond Bluetooth, get a multi-room system, network player, Internet-connected radio and Spotify streaming services all in one portable, battery powered package. No need for a permanently paired mobile device.
LONG TERM TEST UPDATE: We are loving the Libratone ZIPP. The companion App has matured to include sleep timer, manual sleep and shut down as well as the different sound modes, speaker setup and multi-speaker controls. You can also set your favourite radio stations over WiFi using the app and choose to use AirPlay, Bluetooth or Line-in source. It performed really well in open spaces given it size and offer sufficiently loud volume without losing quality when used outdoor. The speaker also had a couple of firmware updates and we only have good things to say about it.
First impressions: the ZIPP with its soft furnishing, white satin finish surface, handle and cover in trendy CoolWeave Mesh fabric, makes you want to hug it like a bolster or a cushion. Structurally, it is well-built and the mesh, while soft is durable with an inner plastic frame that protects the speakers. The ZIPP is available in different coloured CoolWeave Mesh fabric. The covers are interchangeable although we have not quite worked out how to do this yet. Colour options are Deep Lagoon (Dark Teal), Victory Red (Bright Red), Cloudy Grey (Light Grey) and Graphite Grey (Dark Grey). Graphite Grey is featured here.
Overall, the speaker is well designed with a sturdy leather band for ease of carrying and a charging adapter finished in white just like those found on Apple products (MacBook, iPad or iPhone). The adapter has a fixed fabric wound cable with a DC socket. It would be ideal if the speaker is charged via a USB port to reduce the number of adapters one has to carry when travelling. This bulky charging adapter is going to have to live in the check-in luggage.
The Libratone ZIPP is not exactly portable either but as a great believer of bigger sounds come from bigger speakers, we cannot complain. If you prefer a more portable speaker that still packs all of the same features, check out Libratone ZIPP mini. See dimensions and weight comparisons between the two at the bottom of this article.
Top 5 Things You Need to Know About Libratone ZIPP
Sound – The ZIPP produces a big sound, with plenty of volume and not overbearing bass using passive radiators, patented sound baffles and custom DSP software. It uses what the company calls Acoustic FullRoom technology, a full 360° all direction sound wave transmission to fill the room. The companion Libratone app lets you configure Voicing (equalizer) and Room Settings. See table below for different setting options.
Apart from the 360 degree reflector and 4-inch Neodynium woofer, it has two 1-inch soft dome Neodynium tweeter for the high range (tweeter) and two 4-inch low frequency radiators. All that is powered by a full digital class D amplified adaptive DSP sound optimisation and speaker protection system. 100 Watt total power across 2 DSP enhanced amplifier channels.
The interface is quick and easy to learn with a round touch panel and cool white lights. To turn up or down the volume, touch and slide your finger clockwise or counter clockwise respectively and see the level clearly on touch panel with the light indicator. Touching the bird icon in the middle of the button, pauses or plays the music. To the right and left of the bird icon are the skip forward and back buttons. There is also a clever hush gesture activated by placing your palm over the touch panel.
Now, things get interesting if you have two of these in the same room. You can pair them together for true stereo, just make sure you position them in the right order (left channel and right channel) and that you are sitting or standing in a position where you will get both channels.
Alternatively, you can set both up for a full 360 surround sound to cover the whole room. Then with equalizer settings or voicing as they are known, you can choose to set one of your speakers to cover the mid-range and low such as ‘rock the house’ and set the second one for vocal and acoustics, to cover the high range with the ‘jazz club’ or ‘speech’. This lets you cover the whole dynamic range that standard Bluetooth speakers cannot do. Feel free to customize your hearing appetite with the different voicing or room settings, see below for options.
Voicing (Sound equalizer)
- neutral – basic neutral setting
- easy listening – easy and smooth lean back sound
- soft and comfortable – soft mid-range for compressed recordings
- rock the house – extra drum kick and smooth mid-range
- jazz club – open acoustic sound focus on voices
- movie time – extra action and movie re-equalization
- live concert – when the music is loud and dynamic
- classical – for grand pianos or classical music
- speech – for TV programs with subtle voices
SoundSpace Link – Typical portable Bluetooth speakers lets you pair with other speakers but the ZIPP goes beyond that. It offers the ability to create a multi-room experience, playing music from the same source once you have set up a group, what Libratone calls a SoundSpace. This is something that high end systems already do, the ability to create a group and make all speakers in the group play the same music. There is even a dedicated button on the touch panel to make grouping easier. You can pair up to 6 speakers per group and create up to 8 groups on a wireless network. However, there is a limit of 16 speakers per wireless network, which is plenty even for a big home.
Battery: The ZIPP has a whooping 10 to 12 hours battery life similar to the smaller ZIPP mini. This is enough for all day music at home or out and about. There is an on board USB port that allows you to charge your mobile device be it a tablet or smartphone. The app lets you track the ZIPP’s battery level. When the speaker is on, tap the power button to see the battery level on the touch panel.
Connected: Packed with tonnes of connectivity options, you can set the ZIPP up to connect to the home WiFi using the companion App downloadable free from the relevant Apple App Store (for iOS) or Google Play (for Android). The speaker supports dual band 2.4GHz and 5GHz, our unit connected straight to 5GHz. When turning on the speaker for the first time, the speaker goes into setup mode, use the App and follow the instructions there to connect to your WiFi. This of course, requires your device, smartphone or tablet to be connected to the same home WiFi network.
You can enter setup mode anytime holding down the bird icon for 2 seconds. You can now connect to the speaker directly from your iOS device using AirPlay or via Bluetooth. The on-board Bluetooth adapter supports Bluetooth 4.0 aptX great for streaming music with CD like quality. You can also go old school and hook up a cabled connection via the 3.5mm analogue input. Or, when connected to a compatible device, use the USB as a music source.
Streaming: Once connected to the Internet, you can stream music using Spotify Connect or straight off Internet radio stations via VTUNER using the app. The Libratone app lets you configure 5 of your favourite stations so you can use the touch panel on the ZIPP to can connect up directly.
For Spotify, download the app, setup or login with an account, go to Devices (in Your Library) then select More Devices. Unfortunately, unless you pay for a premium account, you will have to do this every time.
If you have a premium Spotify account, the ZIPP supports Spotify Connect over WiFi, which means you can use your Spotify app as a remote and not drain your device battery using AirPlay or Bluetooth. ZIPP will connect directly to Spotify once you have set your tunes going.
As with all great wireless speakers, the companion App is as important as the speaker itself. Libratone has made an easy to use app to configure and stream music over WiFi or Bluetooth, including content from DLNA. The App is available for free to download. We were very confident with the app and it did not take long for us to learn most of the controls there.
Unfortunately, to access other music streaming services, such as Amazon Prime Music, Apple Music, Deezer, 8tracks, Pandora, Tidal or Google Play Music, you will need to rely on AirPlay or Bluetooth from a mobile device. The speaker while it is connected to WiFi, can function independently, but will only let you stream from VTUNER radio channels controlled using the Libratone app and Spotify Connect with a premium account.
Another thing we noticed is that the ZIPP goes on standby automatically after a period of non-activity. It does take a while to boot up. To switch it back on hold down the power button for 3 seconds, the lights will come on, then after a good few seconds, a chime will sound signaling that it is ready, not quite as zippy as we would have liked it.
Still it is a very capable speaker with good sound reproduction, many useful features, fabulous design and intuitive controls. If you are in the market for a portable Bluetooth speaker, check out the Libratone ZIPP or ZIPP mini and live beyond just a straight forward Bluetooth speaker. Have your speakers stream from the Internet straight off via WiFi and not rely on a mobile device.
One more thing, the Libratone ZIPP and ZIPP mini includes built-in noise isolating microphones that lets you take or make calls with a smartphone connected via Bluetooth, should you have the urge to have a conversation using the speaker phone or need to take a call in the middle of your groove.
Dimensions and Weight
To give you an idea of its height and size, see photos below.
- Height: 26.1cm / 10.3″
- Width: 12.2cm / 4.8″
- Weight: 1.5kg / 3.3 lbs
- Height: 22.4 cm / 8.8”
- Width: 10.0 cm / 3.9”
- Weight: 1.1 kg / 2.4 lbs