Speaker: The Libratone Zipp (Portable Wireless Speaker)
Source: Spotify via Smart Phone (Galaxy S4)
The First Impressions
What a strange little thing this portable speaker is! Libratone have really thought out of the box in terms of what makes a speaker a speaker and what can be gleaned from the term ‘portable’, everything about this fuzzy little thing screams: ‘carry me everywhere!’
It’s quite cuddly, for a speaker, and surprisingly light. And it’s very cute jacket – while a little gimmicky – would provide a level of protection when the speaker is being used for its portable-calling. There won’t be any grass, dirt or sand accidentally entering places it shouldn’t. I can see myself using it in a park or at the beach without being too concerned about invasions into the mechanisms. There’s even a soft yet sturdy leather loop at the back, I was immediately compelled to carry it around with that loop, so it serves its purpose well. It has an internal rechargeable battery too – always something worth mentioning.
The (detachable and swappable) jacket colours are fairly eye-catching. I have opted for the demure black, because I can only be seen as so cute, but the others were a bright and brilliant smattering of yellow, red, pinkish purple, blue and greenish blue. It reminded me a little of a large pencil case to begin with. But the perplexing cylindrical shape serves a purpose beyond the gimmick, as I was soon to realise.
The Set Up
It’s not obvious quite what you’re supposed to do, when faced with the speaker by itself. I picked it off the showroom shelf so I had it at my service without the box or manual. So I did what I could, pressing the buttons and hoping for the best. With a quick consultation of the website (arguably the funkiest website dedicated to a single speaker you will ever see), the tiny green light was pulsing and I was on my way to hearing some music.
I downloaded the Libratone app, messed around for a while and consulted the website again. With the help of a very soothing step-by-step video, I was able to connect my phone after about four honest attempts. It’s not exactly complicated, but there are several steps involved – some, which would not be deemed obvious. But once your new app is connected, it’s connected. So this is (in theory) a once in a lifetime ordeal… if you only ever use one phone. I was comforted to see that it can also be hooked up with an AUX so if you’re willing to loose the wireless element, that’s a quick way of getting things done.
As I was testing the Zipp for its portability it was being kept off the mains. I expected a slight loss of volume and power – but I was very much mistaken. Upon opting to stream Spotify and play my regular playlist (I must confess, I had to consult the website again, but only to make sure so my good work was not undone!), I selected a few things I knew well: some Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, Lana Del Ray and a little Pink Floyd. A good selection for a speaker test contains tracks with plenty of range and texture, but always be familiar with the content.
After working out the volume control (I didn’t need the website this time) I found the room easily filled with a sound one would not expect from such a small speaker, particularly one wearing a fuzzy jacket. The ‘FullRoom’ sound that Libratone are so proud of was just that. Its high-end components are obvious: this is audiophile grade sound. Rich, full bodied and crisp. I was very pleasantly surprised, and made a point of carrying the speaker (with its handle) outside whenever tracks changed, to see how well the FullRoom worked outdoors. Upon reading up about FullRoom Technology, it would appear that the Zipp is designed to work as an acoustic instrument, dispensing omni-directional sound. Don’t be fooled by its trendiness, there is a fully immersive sound that truly captivates, with a good weighty bass. And considering the digital source and complete lack of wires – that is not to be sniffed at.
I’d have liked to have spent a little more time with the Zipp. There were a number of features that I didn’t have time to explore, and of course I’d have liked to have played some more music through it. But my conclusion would have been the same: I’m convinced. It is not a trendy gimmick – this is a speaker that deserves to accompany you on your travels. Bold, stylish and cute… yes. The youth of today will probably love its for its looks (it has its own jacket. – what’s not to love?) but the sound is perfectly balanced and full – so much more than any sane person would expect from a portable speaker. And let’s face it – it’s the sound that counts.
Do you want one?
Most definitely, I’d take it everywhere! I’d probably stick to the black jacket, mind you.
Get yourself a Zipp today: now on sale at Audio Affair!