Libratone ZIPP

by Volker Weber

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The Libratone ZIPP is long overdue for a test flight at vowe's magic flying circus. It's a very stylish speaker built for Apple customers. It plays music over WiFi and AirPlay, and you don't have to be at home to use it. Once you have completed your setup, it will show up as an AirPlay device in iTunes or on your iDevice. On top of that, I was able to make it work with my Lumias. More on that further down.

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While I am very satisfied with my Sonos, there is one limitation: Sonos is built for your house, but not for mobile use. It does not work without a power outlet, and you really want access to a WiFi router. The Libratone works with both, but does not require them.

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My ZIPP came with three different felt covers, made from wool. You can easily exchange the covers, but you have to be gentle. I immediately replaced the black cover with a red one.

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You switch the device on with a button on top. A ring around that button lets you change the volume. This is very similar to the very first iPod Shuffle. There the leather strap meets the body, there is a panel sticking through the felt cover. There is a line-in, a USB port, two buttons with LEDs and a battery indicator LED. The USB port is used for setting up WiFi parameters by copying from an iDevice.

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When you remove the felt cover, you will find ZIPP player to be open to all sides. It distributes the sound 360 degrees and you can place it right in the middle of a group of people.

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The main speaker is sitting in the middle, firing upwards. Above this speaker there are tweeters firing sideways. It does produce stereo sound but you will barely notice. Comparing the sound to my Sonos players, I would say the comparably priced PLAY:5 wipes the floor with the ZIPP. Highs are very crisp, but bass is lacking. Up to about 50% volume, it's rather nice, but you can't really crank it up to 11. You would get two PLAY:1 for one ZIPP, and they would sound way more powerful.

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The ZIPP has a battery which lets you use anywhere you want, but unfortunately they could not squeeze in a power supply and you get a large ugly wall wart to charge it. If you use it stationary most of the time, you will be able to hide this box behind your furniture, but if you plan to use it mostly mobile, the external charger somewhat ruins the experience.

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The speaker can either join an existing WiFi network or you can put it in access point mode, where you connect directly to the speaker from your iDevice. You can set this up any time and anywhere without prior planning. As soon as both devices are on the same network, it will show up as an AirPlay target. On top of that I was also able to send music from my Lumias, because ZIPP is also a DLNA renderer.

And there you have a use case, no Sonos player fits: while away from any network or power outlets, you can have a very decent (and pretty) speaker.

Comments

Thanks, Volker. Any opinion on how the Libratone compares to the Bose Soundlink Mini which I found surprisingly powerful and very easy to use (via Bluetooth obviously)?

Jochen Kattoll, 2014-02-20 11:39

I think the Bose competes with the likes of Jambox or Beats Pill, both of which I would prefer. The Libratone is a whole lot better (and larger).

Volker Weber, 2014-02-20 11:43

Den Soundlink Mini mit einer Jambox oder einer Beats Pill zu vergleichen, finde ich schon etwas gewagt. Hier ein Audio-Vergleich Jambox vs. Soundlink Mini: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yySlihAf1E

Das Aha-Erlebnis kommt bei 0:24 ;-)

Michael Preidel, 2014-02-20 15:46

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vowe.net is a personal website published by Volker Weber a.k.a. vowe. I am an author, consultant and systems architect based in Darmstadt, Germany.

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