[REVIEW] Libratone ZIPP2

A treat for our ears

149

Introduction

Having played with the Libratone ZIPP2 smart speaker for a few weeks now it’s time to provide our review and opinion.

Build & Appearance

Straight out of the box the Libratone ZIPP2 looks and feels like a quality product. Although it’s not small, standing tall at 26.1 cm (10.3 inches) high and 12.2 cm (4.8 inches) wide, it is the size of a Hi-Fi shelf speaker so it won’t blend into a room, but that’s not what you want it to do.

In addition to its size, the Libratone ZIPP2 isn’t that light either, weighing in at 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs), but when you turn it on the reason for its size and weight becomes apparent with it’s amazing full, rich-bodied sound quality. When you add the battery-power required to provide up to 12 hours of wireless ‘active use’, the weight becomes inevitable.

On listening to Libratone ZIPP2 with our eyes closed, we could have easily been listening to a high-end speaker system from the likes of Bang & Olufson. This awe-inspiring audio experience is provided by a mixture of a 1” soft dome neodymium tweeter providing the high end, a 4” neodymium woofer providing an impressive base rumble and two 4” Low frequency radiators filling the space in between. Finally, a 360° reflector ensures that the sound will take your breath away from all angles.

Before the audio signals get as far as the speaker output hardware, they pass through a fully digital Class D amplifier with an adaptive DSP (Digital Sound Processing) sound optimisation and speaker protection system. In simple terms this maximises the quality of the sound signals entering the tweeter, woofer and radiators to output the best possible audio experience.

This mix of high quality audio processing mixed with the audio output hardware (tweeter, woofer and radiators) enables the Libratone ZIPP2 to provide high resolution 96 kHz/24 bit clarity of sound along with an impressive 50 Hz – 20 kHz frequency range ensure you hear everything from the highest tweet to the lowest base tone and everything in between.

Updated 360° FullRoom® sound processing, with onboard Room EQ, along with the 360° reflector, ensures that the amazing range and clarity of sound can be heard from all angles. The 360° FullRoom® sound processing is capable of assessing the acoustics of the room in order to amend the audio output and directional sound accordingly.

If you can find the funds to buy two Libratone ZIPP2 you have the option to link then together for separate left and right stereo audio.

If you have endless funds you can invest in up to 10 Libratone ZIPP2 smart speakers to make the most of the Libratone proprietary SoundSpace Link® technology enabling multi-room streaming between them all across a Wi-Fi network.

Now we’ve covered the insides, its time to talk about what covers the insides. Although the top surface and the bottom 20% of the Libratone ZIPP2 exterior is simple, functional, white matt plastic, the upper 80% is a covered in a fabric knit, available in a number of colour options, which zips on/off, tying in with the ‘ZIPP’ branding. If you’re colour preference is changeable you will be happy to know that so are the fabric covers. In our experience, although the fabric cover is changeable, removing and attaching it is not simple, but we assume it will become easier with practice.

Connectivity

Now we move onto connectivity with both wired and wireless options.

In addition to a standard 3.5 mm mini-jack socket for wired (analogue) audio input the Libratone ZIPP2 supports USB play for a secondary wired (digital) audio input option.

When it comes to wireless options, when at home or in the office, the default option is to connect the Libratone ZIPP2 to a Wi-Fi network using its integrated dual-band (2.4 GHz & 5 GHz), IEEE 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi connectivity.

When out and about, wireless audio is still possible using the Libratone ZIPP2 bluetooth 4.1 connectivity.

Whilst connected to a Wi-Fi network, or to a mobile phone via Bluetooth, the Libratone ZIPP2 supports both voice assistant integration and Bluetooth hands free calling, with its far field noise cancelling 6-microphone array enabling clear audio

If you are using the Libratone ZIPP2 with an iOS device you have a third wireless option in the form of apple AirPlay 2 which brings with it Siri support enabling voice control of your apple devices via the Libratone ZIPP2 integrated microphone.

If you are not using the Libratone ZIPP2 with apple products there is still the option to access Amazon Alexa voice assistant instead with its integration with a raft of third part eco-systems.

In addition to Siri and Alexa integration the Libratone ZIPP2 also incorporates Spotify Connect meaning that it will appear as one of your output device options in the Spotify music streaming app.

If isn’t enough, the Libratone ZIPP2 also works as a DLNA client for Android and Windows apps that work as DLNA servers meaning seamless audio playback.

On top of all this, once you have connected the Libratone ZIPP2 to the Libratone android or iOS app to perform initial device setup, you can use the app to set up 5 playlists or radio stations which you can access with a tap on the touch interface on the top of the Libratone ZIPP2 once it is connected to WiFi.

User Interface

Interacting with the Libratone ZIPP2 is easy with the top mounted circular backlit touch interface. When sleeping, tapping the touch pad wakes it from its slumber, presenting the Libratone logo in the centre, circled by 5 symbols relating to the main functions of the interface:

  • SoundSpace® link: on / off SoundSpace® link toggle
  • 5 presets: cycles through the 5 user defined playlists or radio stations
  • Voice assistant mic: on/off microphone toggle
  • Room EQ: runs the Room EQ set-up to ensure the best all round audio quality wherever you are using it.
  • Firmware update: checks for firmware updates if the Libratone ZIPP2 is connected to a Wi-Fi network

 

In addition to the soft buttons integrated into the touch pad there are a number of gesture-based interactions:

  • swiping you finger around the edge of the pad in a clockwise direction increases the volume, whilst swiping counter-clockwise reduces the volume.
  • Tapping the Libratone logo starts and pauses music playback and answers and ends phone calls (when connected to a mobile phone)
  • Double tapping Libratone logo plays the next track
  • Triple tapping the Libratone logo plays previous track
  • Placing you palm over the touch pad mutes the speaker

Conclusions

With its breath-taking high-end audio quality and easy to use control interface the Libratone ZIPP2 is an impressive Siri / Amazon Alexa enabled smart speaker for the home

When you add the 12-hour battery life, splash-proofness and carry strap, the Libratone ZIPP2 becomes a great accompaniment to any camping trip or picnic.

Even if you need to fill a much bigger space, the Libratone proprietary SoundSpace Link® technology enables you to connect up to 10 of these powerhouse speakers together to get combined audio.

In short, we love the Libratone ZIPP2 which in our experience if much, much more than a smart speaker. The only negative we have been able to find is the price (£279.99 on both the Amazon Store and PC World website), but if you have that sort of money to spend on a speaker the Libratone ZIPP2 is well worth it.

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