Libratone Zipp Review

Updated February 28, 2014
cs-product-header
Libratone Zipp
Bottom Line

The Libratone Zipp is the only AirPlay speaker we've seen that's truly portable. In addition to its compact size, it offers a unique feature called PlayDirect, which lets you stream music directly from your Apple device without going through a Wi-Fi network. Reviewers say this feature has a few quirks, however. Also, while the Zipp's sound quality is great for its size, it can't match that of a full-sized speaker.

Performance

Good for its size. Reviewers generally give the Libratone Zipp good, but not outstanding, ratings for sound. What Hi-Fi? describes the sound as "fast and punchy" but "not particularly weighty." PCMag.com notes that the Zipp doesn't offer much depth on the bass, though it does manage to avoid distortion, and its tiny size makes it hard to get the right placement for true stereo sound. Jeremy Horwitz of iLounge is still less impressed, calling the sound "collectively mediocre." As for the battery life, it's a so-so four hours per charge -- though that's four hours more than you'll get from the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air (Est. $600) , which has no battery at all.

ProsPlayDirect feature, Compact, stylish design, Good sound for its sizeConsSo-so battery life, Works only with iOS devices, Can interfere with Wi-Fi use

Ease of use

Genuinely portable. The biggest advantage of the Zipp is its PlayDirect feature, which frees you from being tied to a Wi-Fi network. Reviewers say, however, that this feature has its limitations. For one, it works only with iOS devices -- no Android or Windows phones. Also, as CNET explains, it "monopolizes the Wi-Fi connection with the audio source," so you can't access the Internet at the same time. Reviews say there is a way to get around this so you can stream music from the web, but it's a big hassle. Aside from that, reviewers find the Zipp easy to set up. The range for streaming is about 90 feet, much better than Bluetooth's.

Design

Eye candy. Even reviewers who don't like the Zipp overall like the way it looks. The speaker is a compact, 10-inch cylinder in a brightly colored wool carrying case. In fact, you get three cases when you buy it, in an assortment of colors -- "a fun and playful feature that's caught many an eye," say What Hi-Fi? editors. Horwitz says, "Zipp is such a beautifully designed system from the outside that we really wanted to love what was inside," and Wired says it's the "best example so far of Libratone's design chops." At 4 pounds, it's also lighter than most AirPlay speakers, so it's reasonably easy to carry on the go.

image
Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air Wireless AirPlay Speaker Dock
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $599.99 $549.00   
Average Customer Review:  

Our Sources

1. PCMag.com

Libratone Zipp, Tim Gideon, Nov. 30, 2012

The Libratone Zipp earns 4 stars out of 5 at PCMag.com. Reviewer Tim Gideon says it delivers good sound without distortion, and the PlayDirect feature is a huge plus. However, he warns that the speaker will only work with Apple devices and the bass is a bit weak.

2. CNET

Libratone Zipp Review: Portable AirPlay Speaker Has Trade-offs, David Carnoy, Nov. 12, 2012

CNET gives the Libratone Zipp only 3.5 stars out of a possible 5. Editors say the sound is great for its size, and it offers a rechargeable battery and an "eye-catching" design. However, they're not impressed with its battery life, its Wi-Fi limitations and its high price tag.

3. ConsumerReports.org

Wi-Fi & Bluetooth Speaker Systems, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, January 2014

ConsumerReports.org tests over 40 wireless and Bluetooth speakers, including the Libratone Zipp. Each speaker is evaluated for sound quality, ease of use and features. The Zipp is the only AirPlay speaker in the tests classified as "portable" rather than for home use.

4. Wired

Libratone Zipp, Alexander George, March 20, 2013

Alexander George of Wired awards the Libratone Zipp 6 points out of 10, which translates to "a solid product with some issues." He says it offers great sound and a cool design, but the PlayDirect feature is a hassle to set up and can be unreliable.

5. iLounge.com

Libratone Zipp AirPlay Speaker, Jeremy Horwitz, Oct. 23, 2012

Jeremy Horwitz of iLounge gives the Libratone Zipp a grade of C-plus. He says it looks great on the outside, but the speakers deliver "collectively mediocre results." While its portability is a convenience, Horwitz doesn't think it comes close to justifying the $400 price tag.

6. What Hi-Fi?

Best AirPlay Speakers to Buy in 2014, Editors of What Hi-Fi?, Feb. 3, 2014

The editors of What Hi-Fi?, a British publication, include the Libratone Zipp in their list of the year's five best AirPlay speakers (not all of which are sold in the U.S.). The linked full-length review gives the speaker 5 stars for its build quality and "punchy" sound.

7. Engadget.com

Libratone Zipp, Editors of Engadget.com, Not Dated

The Libratone Zipp gets an overall rating of 84 percent at Engadget, based on a meta-analysis of reviews from other sites. The editors say its PlayDirect feature is unique and useful, giving you access to the higher fidelity of AirPlay with the portability of Bluetooth -- but it only works with iOS.