Libratone Zipp & Zipp Mini Portable Wi-Fi Speakers

One of the hottest trends in consumer electronics is multi-room speaker systems. While single, portable Bluetooth speakers are fine for travel and using outdoors, many people are seeking simple and elegant solutions for whole-home listening. The new Libratone Zipp ($300) and Libratone Zipp Mini ($250) are certainly interesting options.

The features of the Zipp and Zipp Mini are very similar, and as a pair, an interesting combination for multiple listening environments. Both speakers have the ability to play through Wi-Fi, AirPlay, Bluetooth, DLNA, Tidal, and Internet Radio as well as built in Spotify Connect; basically, if you can stream it, you can Zipp it. The Libratone app (Apple and Android) makes it simple to set up multiple speakers in “Soundspaces” by linking speakers for multi-room playback, pairing them for stereo left/right operation, or sending separate stations to each speaker around the home. Connecting to Wi-Fi was remarkably simple - no passwords required.

The speaker units are very attractive with a European elegance - Libratone is based in Denmark. The “Zipp” refers to the removable speaker covers - additional covers in a nice array of colors are available for $30. Under the mesh cover are the 360-degree speakers. The Zipp uses a 4-inch neodymium woofer, two 1-inch neodymium tweeters and two 4-inch low-frequency radiators, powered by a 100-watt amplifier. The Zipp Mini uses a 3-inch neodymium woofer, a single 1-inch neodymium tweeter and two 3.5-inch low-frequency radiators powered by a 60-watt amplifier. The speakers can be used on AC power, but both have up to 10-hours of playback from a built-in battery. They both have a USB charging port so you can easily plug in your phone to keep it powered up too.

The Zipp is 10.3-inches tall, 4.8-inches across, and weighs in at a very portable 3.3 lbs. The Zipp Mini is 8.8-inches tall, 3.5-inches in diameter and weighs 2.4 lbs. Both units have a white satin-finished base and top with a leather carrying strap on the side.

On both units, the power button is on the bottom near the charging port and AC input. The controls are all on a single touch-interface button on the top of the unit. The interface lets you control playback, volume, select one of five favorite stations and link to other speakers in the Soundspace system. To quickly and temporarily “hush” the system, just place your hand over the touch panel.

They both have a feature referred to as “Last Action Wins” so if you are paired to one Zipp and insert a thumb drive with music, it will stop playing the streaming music and begin playing the music on that drive locally, not across the SoundSpace. If you then make an action to play music to it again – your stream would take over from what was playing on the USB drive.

I set up the Zipp in my large living room and the Zipp Mini in my office. Up to six speakers can be paired in a Soundspace, and you can have three Soundspace on a network, for a total of 18 speakers, and two speakers can be used in the same room as stereo speakers, but for this I would very strongly suggest using a matching pair of either Zipps or a pair of Minis.

The Zipp has stereo playback, with each tweeter firing in opposite directions. A single Zipp Mini provides mono playback in a 360-degree space. The sound is localized, but it’s not very directional - it can be placed in any orientation. It played sufficiently loud in my room that measures 20’ by 30’ and the Mini was adequate in my small office. The quality is good, but would be greatly enhanced with true stereo playback from a single unit - not possible with its single tweeter. The larger Zipp has a nicely balanced sound - there is a decent amount of bass, but it’s not overwhelming. The smaller Zipp Mini has less bass, but less overall power as well. Both have a clean, natural high-end. Overall, they each provide a well-balanced sound. If price isn’t an factor, the big Zipp is a better overall unit with more power and deeper bass extension, and if two are desired, I would suggest getting two of the same size so they can be paired for stereo playback.

The Libratone Zipp and Zipp Mini each work nicely as stand-alone units. Combined with the Libratone app, controlling music throughout the home is relatively simple, especially for users with experience with AirPlay and other similar setups. Because they use the Wi-Fi signal in a home, the distance limitations of Bluetooth are eliminated, so these are a better option than systems that rely solely on Bluetooth, although you could connect to one via Bluetooth then network with the rest. With a variety of colors to match any decor, the Zipp family is undeniably attractive.