Do you want a home speaker that responds to requests for Abba songs, and quietly records what you say so that it can push ads for nappies and hair restoration treatment? Or would you prefer a portable speaker that does the job for rained-out BBQs and hastily arranged beach trips?
While many wireless speakers make you choose, the Libratone Zipp 2 does both. It’s a chunky portable tower speaker with Bluetooth, wi-fi and support for Amazon Alexa, and that might be enough for you to overlook the fact that it’s not quite the best-sounding speaker in its category.
You can’t miss a Libratone Zipp speaker. The zip running around the bottom allows you to remove the grille fabric and replace it with another design or colour.
It’s a bit of a gimmick, but style is important here – Libratone’s speakers have a youthful energy that means they look equally at home in a child’s room as the pages of a fashion magazine. The speaker's minimalistic Scandinavian aesthetic should blend in to just about any room of the house.
The Zipp 2 is equally versatile in its usage. It’s a Bluetooth speaker with a battery that lasts up to 12 hours at a reasonable listening volume. A chunky leatherette strap makes carrying the speaker around comfortable enough, without making it look like one designed solely for portable use.
It’s also just as prepared for life plugged-in as any modern multi-room unit. The Zipp 2 has full Alexa support, meaning you can talk directly to it through six far-field microphones rather than simply controlling it through an Echo Dot.
Mic sensitivity is roughly comparable with one of those first-party units, and the Zipp 2 is able to understand you even when you're facing in the opposite direction with music playing. There’s no Google Assistant support, but speakers that support more than one voice assistant are still relatively rare.
The Libratone Zipp 2 has Spotify Connect, AirPlay 2 and a 3.5mm aux input too, making it extremely versatile for a minimalistic speaker. On first glance, the capacitive control panel up top seems simple. You tap it to play and pause. A ring of LEDs glides along its perimeter in sync with your finger stroke to alter volume.
However, long-press this pad and a series of tiny icons light up. These access extra features, such as playlist or radio station favourites, sound optimisation for the room shape and Sound Space, which links up individual Libratone speakers.
These shortcuts could be better implemented – in a well-lit room, the buttons aren’t that visible, and while Favourites is the only feature likely to be used regularly, in many cases it’s simpler to ask Alexa for a radio station or playlist.
The Libratone Zipp 2 does more than you might expect. But there are two missing features. It’s not water resistant, and Libratone’s approach to multi-room is a little basic.
The Zipp 2 has a clear back and front, but the sound is not picky about placement. Its 10cm woofer and 25mm tweeter use a ‘360-degree’ deflector to even out coverage. Two large oval-shaped passive radiators sit on its sides, but their lower frequency output is much less narrow anyway. You can happily place the Zipp 2 in the middle of a room.
It’s a satisfying listen too. Bass depth is solid for a speaker of this size and treble detail is good. There are no glaring vacuums of presence of texture in the mids. And while it does start to sound a little uncomfortable at high volumes, the socially conscious will be worrying about their neighbours long before hitting the sort of volume at which the Zipp 2 struggles.
Spotify Connect Yes
Amazon Alexa Yes
AirPlay 2 Yes
Battery life 12 hours
The Libratone Zipp 2 isn’t perfect, but its limitations only become obvious in direct comparison with the top performers in this category. Like the original Zipp, it has a slightly closed-in presentation. You’ll find greater airiness and separation of mid-range elements elsewhere.
It’s also mono by design, and though the Zipp 2’s sound dispersal may be 360-degree, there’s still a clear sense that it emanates from a single point in the room. It limits the achievable sense of scale. Using single active drivers and a deflector is a trade-off, not a wholesale benefit.
Add this effect to less-than-stellar mid-range coherence and you end up with B-tier imaging. This doesn’t just affect complex jazz and classical arrangements. Relatively clean and clear ones like those of Jeff Tweedy’s Warm are left sounding a little too much as though instrument and vocal lines are stacked on top of one another, slightly uncomfortably at times.
It’s a reminder: the Libratone Zipp 2 is a lifestyle speaker above all, and those who prioritise sound quality may prefer one with a more open and coherent presentation.
The Zipp 2 almost seamlessly skips between being a portable and smart speaker. And, thanks to Libratone’s styling and a wide array of features, it looks and feels the part in either role.
Its sound is loud and powerful enough, but does not have remotely the clearest imaging in this class, in part thanks to a decision to favour 360-degree sound.
This is a great choice for those looking for a stylish and flexible wireless speaker, but if your priority is sound quality, there are better options around.
- Sound 4
- Features 5
- Build 5
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