This $300 smart wireless speaker looks so modern that you might not even realize its a speaker and it's got excellent sound quality too
This $300 smart wireless speaker looks so modern that you might not even realize it’s a speaker — and it's got excellent sound quality too
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Smart speakers are cool, but dozens have been released in the past few years to the point where simply having smart features isn't really enough to sell a speaker any more. Libratone has been making decent speakers and headphones for some time now and recently unveiled the Libratone Zipp 2 (currently $299 on Amazon) and Zipp 2 Mini (currently $249 on Amazon). The speakers boast Google Alexa and Apple AirPlay 2 support, a unique design, and more.
I've been testing out the Libratone Zipp 2, which isn't cheap at $299, but worth buying based on my experience. Here's why.
If you've seen Libratone Zipp speakers before, you'll immediately recognize the Libratone Zipp 2. The speaker has a classy-looking fabric covering on the top four-fifths and white plastic on the bottom. It's available in a number of different colors including Black, Green, Gray, and Red. I'm reviewing the black version and find that it looks great; this speaker could look right at home in any environment or on any shelf.
On the top of the speaker, there's a small control panel that changes the settings, stores playlists, controls volume, and more. On the back of the speaker, you'll get a power input, power button, and a USB port — which is a nice addition for charging your phone overnight in case you keep the speaker on your nightstand. There's also a handle on the back of the speaker so you can carry it around when the battery is nice and charged up, along with a 3.5 mm jack for plugging into wired audio sources.
In general, the Libratone Zipp looks great and is clearly well-made and durable.
Read more: The best portable speakers you can buy
Setting up the Libratone Zipp 2 is generally an easy process, especially if you just want to get it to work for AirPlay or Bluetooth use. Just download the Libratone app, plug in the speaker, and follow the on-screen instructions in the app. You may need to download a firmware update for the speaker, but the app will guide you through the process.
One of the biggest differences between this version and the original Libratone Zipp is the smart home compatibility.
It's pretty easy to set up Alexa to work on the speaker, thankfully — select the speaker in the app, hit the microphone button, and sign in to your Amazon account. Then the speaker should be good to go. Once the speaker is connected to your Wi-Fi network, it should be immediately available as a target for AirPlay 2, meaning you can use it for multiple rooms straight through your iPhone.
You can also set the speaker up in Google Home. I wasn't able to do so right out of the box, but after a few attempts and a restart of the iPhone and Wi-Fi router, the speaker finally connected to the Home app.
What makes it stand out
Once the speaker is set up, it's super easy to use. You can ask Alexa or Siri to play music, or you can use your iPhone to beam music to this speaker and other AirPlay 2-enabled speakers through apps like Apple Music or Apple Podcasts.
Alexa integration is particularly useful because you can use the speaker to other control smart home devices, find out information, and so on. Of course, you might not want Alexa to be listening to you all the time, so you can also turn on and off the microphone straight from the speaker itself.
Perhaps the most important thing about a speaker is how it sounds and the Libratone Zipp speaker sounds great. The speaker offers nice deep lows, helping things like kick drums and bass guitars sound smooth and heavy. That's good news for bass fans. The mid-range is pretty well-tuned too. There are nice, warm low mids, with a slightly laid-back high-mid section — which I didn't mind at all. I would say that the mid-range does get a little unclear at times, but it's not bad. The high-end is certainly present and offers plenty of clarity. From the Libratone app, you can also tweak the frequency response — meaning you can get a response that's more along the lines of what you like from a sound profile.
The Libratone Zipp 2 is pretty portable too thanks to the fact that it has a battery built right into it. That battery lasts up to 12 hours on a single charge so you can carry the speaker around with you while still enjoying your music.
Read more: The best Bluetooth speakers you can buy
Cons to consider
Nothing is perfect and the Libratone Zipp 2 does have its downsides — though not many. As mentioned, the mid-range of the speaker isn't perfectly tuned and there were some bugs while setting the speaker up in the Home app, but those are minor annoyances.
Perhaps the biggest downside is that it's a little expensive at $299. For comparison, the Sonos One, which also supports Alexa and sounds awesome, comes in at $199. However, it's not portable so it has to remain plugged in to be used.
The bottom line
Despite the price issue, the Libratone Zipp 2 is still a great option for those that want something portable and sounds great.
In fact, if you're looking for an Alexa-powered portable speaker, I would argue that the Libratone Zipp 2 is the best option to go for thanks to its excellent sound quality and great design. I would absolutely recommend this speaker to anyone who wants a portable speaker, though if you're fine with a wired speaker, then the Sonos One is probably still the way to go.
Pros: Good sound quality, great design, portable
Cons: Expensive, some software bugs
via Business Insider http://bit.ly/1IpULic
April 15, 2019 at 05:21PM