AirPlay, Bluetooth, and built-in connectivity – no, this isn’t a wishlist for the next Apple Watch (although I wouldn’t be upset if the next model had some connectivity upgrades). These are, instead, features that are nearly a must for competitive speakers in 2016.
The Libratone ZIPP and ZIPP mini are two such speakers that sound incredible, look good, and offer a great set of features, but are they worth the price?
Libratone has been making speakers since 2009, and unlike some of their competitors, they focus on making a speaker that can be part of the room, not a piece of furniture in the corner. This means the design of their products are customizable to the room, and have a certain appeal that their competitors lack.
Both the ZIPP ($299 from Libratone) and ZIPP mini ($249 from Libratone), the latest pair of speakers to come out of Libratone, offer excellent audio quality, a built-in battery for listening on the go, Bluetooth connectivity, and customizable ZIPP covers that can change the look of the speaker in a matter of seconds. The biggest different between the 2 is in physical size and internal sound power.
The ZIPP (the larger of the 2 speakers) sits just 10″ tall, and weighs a comfortable 3.3 lbs. Internally, it packs a 100 Watt amplifier that drives the 4″ subwoofer and two 1″ tweeters. The design of the ZIPP is what makes those speakers truly great, though. The cylindrical shape of the ZIPP (and the ZIPP mini) allow it to project sound in all directions, giving you 360º sound reflection. This means the ZIPP can sit on the coffee table or kitchen island and be enjoyed by everyone in the room, the the zip-off covers can be changed to fix the color or decor of your room.
The ZIPP mini is the smaller partner to the ZIPP, clocking in at 8.8″ tall, and weighing nearly a full pound less (2.4lbs). It offers a 60 Watt amplifier, driving a 3″ woofer and a single 1″ tweeter. Much like its big brother, it provides the same 360º sound, and both can be customized with zip off, swappable covers. Both speakers also claim around 10 hours of battery life for music playback, but can also serve as an external battery for your iPhone or other USB device using the built-in USB port.
From a connectivity, control, and interface standpoint, the ZIPP and ZIPP mini share all the same specs. The control on the top of both speakers features a touch pad, which allows the display to respond to gestures, such as dragging your finger around the edge to turn volume up or down, or covering with an open hand to briefly hush the speaker (convenient if you want to speak to someone else without yelling, but don’t want to completely interrupt the music). The touch surface also features a shortcut button, which can be used to program five personally”favorite” internet radio stations. This brings me to the next point….
Both speakers offer built-in WiFi, allowing them to access internet radio, connect with the Libratone app, stream Spotify, receive AirPlay, and best of all, communication with one another. Using the Libratone app, you connect each speaker to your home wifi network. Then, either using AirPlay or Spotify Connect (this streams music directly to the speaker over the Internet, meaning your iPhone is free to roam without interrupting the music), you can send your music over to the ZIPP speaker. In the Libratone app, simply dragging one “SoundSpace” (that’s what they call each speaker or set of speakers) onto another allows them to pair and stream synchronized audio to multiple devices.
What’s more, when paired, each device can still maintain independent volume control (including Hush), and either device can be used to jump to the next song. For me, this meant having one speaker in our living room that could be loud and the other in the bedroom that could be quiet, and I could seamlessly transition from one to the other as I moved through the house.
As far as sound quality goes, I’ve heard many Bluetooth, sound bars, and SONOS systems, and I find the ZIPP and ZIPP mini to be equally as good, if not better, than most. While they are priced much higher than a traditional Bluetooth speaker, they do offer significantly more in the way of features than a Beats Pill or UE Boom, but are portable, unlike a SONOS Play 3 or Play 1. The ZIPP and ZIPP mini land squarely in the sweet spot of quality design, great sound, excellent features, and ease of portability.
I can’t say enough how nice the ZIPP and ZIPP mini are, and how flexible they can be for listening to music. Whether you’re listening over Bluetooth, 3.5mm cable, USB, AirPlay, or an Internet service, the ZIPP and ZIPP mini can deliver crisp, clear sound in volumes (pun intended). The Libratone app makes setting up, controlling, and pairing speakers quick and easy, and opens the door to creating many great ways to listen to music and other audio content throughout your house, apartment, or anywhere, really. While their price tag is a little steep for some, this is a serious speaker for serious listening.
- Fun, cool design with customizable, colorful covers
- Great sound quality
- Support for multiple input methods
- Touch controls
- No way to save Soundspaces for quick access
If you’re in the market for a connected speaker, or have been considering the idea of multi-room audio, I would personally recommend the Libratone ZIPP ($299) and ZIPP mini ($249). Check them out (and order yours today) at Libratone.com.
Disclosure: The ZIPP and ZIPP mini were provided at no cost for review. I have not been compensated for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.