Libratone Zipp AirPlay Speaker Review

Libratone Zipp AirPlay Speaker Review

Last week I offered a first look and video of the Libratone Zipp. The airplay speaker fuses European aesthetics with Cupertinian technology. The round speaker works fine at home, but it also runs on battery power so you can take it on the go. Libratone, who already offered two different speakers designed for home use has now made a speaker that is ready to, as they put it, “Leave the House”.

Libratone Zipp AirPlay Speaker Review

From Libratone:

Share your music anywhere, anytime! Libratone Zipp is an easy-to-use, wireless sound system wrapped in changeable Italian wool. Stream your favourite tunes with PlayDirect™ and AirPlay technology, directly from your music device. The minimalistic speaker provides up to eight hours of battery time and the patented FullRoom™ technology creates a 360° sound experience. Speaker covers are sold separately with eight vivid colors to choose from. Libratone Zipp is freedom – to go. Available in Funky & Classic Collections (see colors below), the Libratone Zipp packs a Libratone Zipp speaker and two extra zip-on covers.

Libratone Zipp AirPlay Speaker Review
Unless you are an interior designer or have the sensibilities of one the changeable cloth coverings will strike you as a bit of a gimmick. They certainly did me and with extra covers costing close to $50, they also strike me as an accessory that will not sell all too well. Still, if you do want the speaker to match your surroundings, then I guess $50 isn’t all too much to pay. Personally I’ll stick with the gray color they arrive wearing.
Libratone Zipp AirPlay Speaker Review

The speaker lets you pipe in music via a 3.5mm headphones jack, but that really isn’t the attraction to this speaker. No, that comes in the form of its handling of AirPlay. AirPlay, Apple’s proprietary system for streaming audio from an iOS or OSX device is baked right into the speaker. And while I did find some occasional dropouts in the stream, overall the Libratone Zipp handled AirPlay far better than any other AirPlay speaker I have tried.

Libratone Zipp AirPlay Speaker Review

But even AirPlay isn’t the TRUE attraction of this speaker. No, THAT comes in the form of PlayDirect. PlayDirect lets you connect an iOS device to the speaker wirelessly without using an existing wireless network. Instead the speaker creates the WiFi network for the singular purpose of streaming music from device to speaker. Not only does it work well, but it works BETTER than the standard AirPlay approach since it doesn’t rely on the quality of the available network. In fact, I have yet to have the audio stream stall when using the direct method. PlayDirect also means you can take the speaker with you and stream music anywhere, anytime. And, thanks to the leather handle that also doubles as a cover to hide the controls, you can grab the speaker and go.

Libratone Zipp AirPlay Speaker Review

All the technology is great, but the real question is, how does it sound? The answer is — fantastic! We have the speaker set up on out kitchen/living room/dining room. It is a huge space, and this one diminutive speaker does a fantastic job of filling it with excellent sound. I’m pretty well amazed by the sound and, even Elana who rarely gets all that excited about the gear I bring into the house, can’t help but gush when speaking about it. This morning I turned it on while I finished packing for my current trip to Cuba. I asked her if she had used it since I did the initial testing with it last week. She laughed and said, “I’m using it all the time when I’m in the kitchen!” (And she is in the kitchen a ton!)

“And?” I asked?

“And what?” Came her reply.

“And what do you think?”

“I told you when you first showed it to me — I love it.”

Of all the speakers I have reviewed, this is the only time she has been so enthusiastic! As for me, this ranks up there with my Sonos system. And while I still LOVE the multi room functionality of the Sonos system, not to mention the ability to create “stereo pairs” by linking two speakers and its “platform agnostic” aspect that lets you control the system from devices running a wide range of operating systems, I think it would be a tossup were someone to ask me which I would recommend. Honestly, so long as you live an “iOS- loving” life you can’t go wrong with either.

In fact, for a household that, like mine, is “all in” with Apple products, the only negative I can think of with regard to the Libratone Zipp is its price. At $450 for the speaker and $50 for each additional cover, this is not for the “light of wallet”.

You can learn more and order yours here on the Libratone website.

MSRP: $449.00, Additional covers are $49.99

What I Like: Sounds great; AirPlay works well, PlayDirect works amazingly well; Battery means you can go anywhere; Covers interchangeable so you can fit to your decor

What Needs Improvement: The speaker is pricey; The covers are far too pricey

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.