GeekDad Review: Libratone ZIPP Nordic Black Multi-Room Wireless Speaker

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Libratone ZIPP: Scandinavian Design, PremiumAudio

Multi-Room audio is becoming increasingly popular—multiple wireless speakers that can play music individually or be synchronized so your music plays in every room with a speaker (or group of speakers). Sonos is the name that first comes to mind with multi-room audio, but it’s far from the only game in town. I’ve been evaluating ZIPP wireless speakers from Libratone, and they are definitely worth considering.

Libratone ZIPP review
Libratone ZIPP wireless speaker in Nordic Black (photo by Brad Moon)

Libratone ZIPP speakers are designed with a Scandinavian aesthetic. No rectangular lumps of plastic and speaker grill, they’re cylindrical with a removable CoolWeave fabric cover that zips off—thus the name. You choose the color when you order and you can buy extras so the speaker blends into different rooms. On top is a touch control panel. Connectivity is via Wi-Fi using the iOS or Android app or by Bluetooth. You can connect up to 16 together on a network for multi-room audio.

Libratone ZIPP review
With cover removed you can see ZIPP drivers —this one has a traditional white base (Photo by Brad Moon)

Audio on a Single ZIPP is far above par for typical wireless speakers. It has 100 Watts of power, multiple drivers and 360-degree “FullRoom” sound for premium music playback. The audio performance is very good even with a single speaker (that 4-inch woofer and the dual tweeters keep things rumbly and crisp), but you can connect a second unit for left and right channel stereo.

That setup really shines…

The capacitive touch controls include a unique “hush” feature that mutes the speaker if you wave a hand over it. Libratone also recently introduced a sleep timer feature that automatically powers the ZIPP down for the night. And with its new Spotify Playlists compatibility, you can save five Spotify Premium playlists or stations on the speaker itself.

If you can stream it (or plug it in using the 3.5mm AUX input), the ZIPP can play it…

Libratone ZIPP Key Specs:

•    Class D digital amplifier with 100 Watts across three DSP-enhanced channels
•    4-inch neodymium woofer, 2 x 1-inch soft dome neodymium tweeters, 2 x 4-inch low-frequency radiators, 360-degree reflector
•    Dual-band 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 aptX, Airplay, DLNA, Spotify Connect, 3.5mm AUX
•    Touch interface
•    Up to 6 speakers in a group, up to 8 groups on a network and a maximum of 16 total speakers on one Wi-Fi network
•    10-hour battery with USB out (to charge mobile devices)
•    Interchangeable CoolWeave fabric covers
•    10.3-inches tall, weighs 3.3 lbs

Why Choose Libratone ZIPP Over Sonos?

I’ve had the opportunity to test a number of Sonos speakers over the years and they largely deserve their reputation for providing premium multi-room audio. But after spending several months using Libratone ZIPP speakers extensively, they would be my hands-down choice over Sonos.

Why?

If you’re looking for a sounder and subwoofer that integrate into your multi-room system, then stick with Sonos. But for many configurations, Libratone ZIPP makes a better choice, for two primary reasons. First, the ZIPP speakers are portable and offer 10-hour battery life. You can pick them up and carry them out to the deck to listen to music (there’s even a leather handle), something you can’t do with Sonos. Second, Libratone ZIPP also supports Bluetooth connectivity in addition to Wi-Fi, making it a lot friendlier for casual use.

You still get comparable audio quality, the price is virtually the same (the Sonos PLAY:3 which is comparable to the ZIPP is priced at $299), but you get far more flexibility, plus the ability to easily change the look of your speaker at will.

Libratone ZIPP review
ZIPP power adapter is premium quality with braided cable, but even Nordic Black comes with a white one (Photo by Brad Moon)

Nordic Black

Libratone ZIPP has traditionally been offered with a white base and swappable fabric covers in a variety of colors (one comes with the ZIPP, and you can buy extras). A few months ago, the company released the ZIPP in Nordic Black. There’s no functionality difference between this and existing ZIPP speakers, but it adds a more traditional look for those who prefer their audio equipment to be black. I have to say, the black on black with red zipper of my review unit is quite striking.

The Libratone ZIPP Nordic Black is available on Amazon for $299. It’s priced the same direct from Libratone, although, at time of writing, the company was running a Father’s Day promotion with $30 off that price, bringing it down to $269.

Disclosure: Libratone provided a ZIPP speaker for review purposes, but had no editorial input.

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