Libratone Zipp 2 review

Alexa, Zipp reverse it

Libratone Zipp 2

The Libratone Zipp 2 showcases the company’s audio pedigree in a colourful new speaker with Alexa, AirPlay 2 and more – all while still letting you take it wireless. And it also shows how Alexa’s growing up and breaking free.

And yes, it’s anotherbig name smart speaker. But in the pantheon of smart assistant-powered speakers, Libratone’s offering something quite unique. Not only does it add Alexa, it chucks in AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect and some other impressive sound tricks – making its portability all the more impressive.

Rated: The best AirPlay 2 speakers

Alongside it arrives the Zipp Mini 2, which is, well, smaller. We’ll explain more specific differences between them later. Here’s our full Libratone Zipp 2 review.

Libratone Zipp 2 review

Libratone Zipp 2: Design and sound quality

If you’ve used or seen Libratone’s previous Zipp speakers, the Zipp 2 doesn’t stray too far in design. It’s still cylindrical with a fabric cover and still has a literal zip keeping it in place (how else do you think it earned its name?). Unzip it, slide off the fabric cover (easier said than done) and you can replace it with one of an array of other colourful sheathes that Libratone sells separately.

The Zipp 2 is designed to be portable, as implied by the attached carry strap, but if mobility is your priority then you’re better off going for the Zipp Mini 2. I say this less because of the size and more because the Zipp 2 weighs 1.5kg, meaning it's not exactly easy to throw in a bag and take to the park.

Read this: The best Alexa built-in speakers

The Zipp Mini 2 has all the same tricks as the larger tower – just crammed into less space. And it’s cheaper, of course. It’s also slightly more curved on top, but otherwise retains the same shape as the larger Zipp 2.

Libratone Zipp 2 review

Spin the Zipp around and there’s a power button, 3.5mm auxiliary input and USB port on the back, as well as the hole for the power adapter.

On the top you'll find Zipp 2’s touch controls. It’s here you can use a finger to adjust the volume or select one of several on-speaker functions such as your pre-set playlists and Libratone's room-correcting EQ feature, which scans the space and optimises the speaker's acoustics to match it. If you've used Sonos' TruePlay feature, it's functionally similar.

And the results are good. We did notice some changes when we tried moving the speaker around and recalibrating. For rooms with a lot of furniture for sound to bounce off, it's particularly worth running this.

But even if you don't, the Zipp 2 also has automatic room EQ adjustments that try to make these changes anyway – similar to how Apple's HomePod does.

Libratone Zipp 2 review

The Zipp 2 has a 1-inch tweeter and 4-inch woofer (the Mini slims the woofer down to 3 inches) and the sound quality gets few complaints from us. Where we've seen companies with little history in audio tech trying to pave a way forward in smart speakers, the Danish company lands in familiar territory.

The Zipp 2 boasts some nice crisp highs, though next to the Sonos One the bass definitely struggled when pushed to higher volumes. We also noticed that the EQ correction was less noticeable when the speaker was at its loudest.

We used the original Zipp speaker for a long time, and while we thought that one sounded pretty great, we've been able to hear the improvements that Libratone's new EQ-correction tech brings in the sequel. That, combined with the 360-degree sound projection, means the Zipp 2 is adept at filling a room with little effort.

But if you want to take things further, there are some sound profiles in the app you can turn to, including options like Easy Listening and Jazz Club, which will adjust the balance accordingly. For example, maybe you're using the Zipp 2 with an Apple TV as a television speaker, in which case you'll probably want to switch it to Movie Mode.

Libratone Zipp 2 review

Libratone Zipp 2: Alexa, AirPlay 2 and other features

The Zipp 2 is a versatile beast. Not only do you have Alexa to chat to, but there’s AirPlay 2 here too. If you’re an iPhone user, that’s likely going to make a big difference. You've also got Spotify Connect support, as well as Libratone's own SoundSpace link, letting you put up to 10 Libratone speakers together.

None of that doing it for you? The Zipp 2 even works as a bog standard Bluetooth speaker.

There aren’t many portable speakers that have Alexa, making its inclusion on the Zipp 2 all the more interesting. Alexa’s abilities here aren’t any different to most other third-party speakers which support the assistant – so it can do pretty much everything but voice calling.

Libratone Zipp 2 review

And while we've had problems with Alexa hearing us in some other third-party speakers, like the Sonos One, we're pleased to say it's been (mostly) sensitive enough to hear us fine on the Zipp 2. We tried calling across the room with some serious bass thumping the apartment and Alexa managed to hear its name okay via the six far-field microphones. It's certainly not perfectly consistent, but the hit:miss ratio has been good in our experience.

But it’s not just Alexa running the show here. As we say, there's AirPlay 2 for all you iOS fans – but the Libratone app is worth a look too. You'll need it to set the Zipp 2 up and get it working with Alexa (which requires an Amazon sign-in), but it's here you can access Tidal integration and the library of internet radio stations. Favourite stations can be added to the 'My Collection' section.

Libratone Zipp 2 review

Libratone Zipp 2: Battery life

Once you pull out the power, Libratone says you'll get around 12 hours of battery life. That's pretty fantastic considering you don't lose any functions by going mobile.

We didn't quite match the 12 hours, but that's most likely because we were maxing out the volume and Alexa requests for testing purposes. But we weren't far off, and with more "normal" use we expect we'd get the promised 12 hours. But if you're likely to listen at louder volumes, expected a bit less.


Libratone Zipp 2
The Libratone Zipp 2 is an Echo alternative that, thanks to portability, offers something Amazon can't. With Alexa, AirPlay 2, rich features and superb sound quality, it's hard to find many faults in the new Zipp. Price is the biggest drawback here, and it's not as portable as the Zipp Mini 2, but don't let those colourful jackets fool you: the Libratone Zipp 2 means business.
PROS
  • Superb sound
  • Alexa and AirPlay 2
  • Good EQ features
CONS
  • The price
  • Not as portable as it thinks
  • Wavers a bit at high volumes


TAGGED   speakers

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