Libratone Zipp 2 smart speaker review: powerful sound with Alexa on board

Libratone Zipp 2

It wasn't that long ago when buying a smart speaker meant sacrificing quality sound. That's no longer the case if you're willing to pay extra. Case in point is the Libratone Zipp 2, which quietly arrived on the scene earlier this year. Featuring integrated Amazon Alexa and Apple AirPlay 2 support, the home speaker is one of the best we've seen (and heard) to date.

The Good

  • Rechargeable battery
  • 360-degree sound
  • Amazon Alexa and Apple AirPlay 2 compatible
  • Easy to pair with other Libratone speakers
  • Not tied to one ecosystem

The Bad

  • Pricey
  • Confusing app
  • Not waterproof
  • Jackets hard to put on

Libratone's best

What is the Libratone Zipp 2?

The Zipp 2 is Libratone's newest flagship speaker having replaced the Zipp for that honor in February 2019. It's available alongside the equally new Zipp Mini 2 smart speaker, plus the Too and One Click. Like the first one, the Zipp 2 features a circular design that's mostly covered by a diamond patterned threaded cloth sleeve that can be replaced to change its color. The Zipp 2 is available in four bold colors, gray, black, red, and green. Unique sleeves are also occasionally released. Inside, the Zipp 2 includes a 360-degree reflector, 4-inch woofer, soft dome tweeter, and low-frequency radiators. The full digital Class D amplifier offers adaptive DSP sound optimization, while the 6-piece far-field mic array has been designed to work with the built-in Amazon Alexa.

The most significant differences between the Zipp and Zipp 2 has to do with third-party integrations. Though Amazon Alexa eventually arrived on the first Zipp through a software update, the Zipp 2 speaker is the only one that responds just by hearing your voice. The first Zipp required that you push a button at the top of the device to wake up the voice assistant.

Since first launching in 2014 on the original Echo smart speaker, Amazon Alexa has remained the world's most popular voice assistant. Whether it's the best smart chatterbox is open to debate. Nonetheless, there's no mistake that Amazon would like to see Alexa inside every electronic device, including microwaves, security systems, and more. To ensure Alexa's domination, Amazon makes it relatively easy for third-party vendors to add the assistant to its products.

On another note, the Zipp 2 speaker is one of the first non-Apple products to support AirPlay 2. This functionality adds the ability to stream music to multiple audio devices at the same time. You can also use it to call up a song on your iPhone and play it in various rooms around the house simultaneously. Similarly, the Zipp 2 is one of the few cordless audio products to support AirPlay 2 at this time.

Lots of integrations and features

Libratone Zipp 2: What I like

There's much to love about the Libratone Zipp 2 starting with the sound it provides. Thanks to its internals (see above), the Zipp 2 offers loud audio in all directions. Called FullRoom by Libratone, this 360-degree sound provides high-res audio (96 kHz/24 bit) with a frequency response of 50Hz to 20kHz. Whether through Apple's AirPlay or Libratone's proprietary SoundSpace Link system, you can attach up to 10 additional speakers for a multi-room effect. Using the official Libratone app for iOS and Android, you can also create an authentic stereo experience with ease.

Setting up the Libratone Zipp 2 is a breeze courtesy of the previously mentioned Libratone app. You can use the app to link other Libratone devices seamlessly. There's also voice presets that have been designed to match the type of music playing. Among the choices are neutral, easy listening, and rock the house. The app also includes room EQ presets, a sleep timer, and a toggle to turn the Amazon Alexa integration on/off.

The most significant differences between the Zipp and Zipp 2 has to do with third-party integrations.

The app is also where you'll link your Spotify, Tidal, or TuneIn Radio account. What's most useful here is the integration with Spotify Connect, a protocol that uses higher-quality Wi-Fi connectivity versus Bluetooth. (Think fewer dropouts and a more comprehensive range.) Of course, if you're an Apple user, you're likely to utilize AirPlay 2 to listen to your streaming or downloaded music, regardless of its location or service provider. I've tested both technologies, alongside Libratone's SoundSpace Link system, and they each work perfectly.

Two other positives come to mind. First is the Zipp 2's built-in battery, which provides up to 12 hours of active use between charges, which is impressive given its many integrations. Also, I was impressed with the Zipp 2's responsiveness to interacting with Alexa. Yes, it just works even from many feet away.

Some confusion and price

Libratone Zipp 2: What I don't like

There's little to dislike about the Libratone Zipp 2, but there are some areas where a tweak here or there on a future version could prove beneficial.

First, while Libratone deserves kudos for including touch controls at the top of the device, perhaps on the Zipp 2 it's overkill. Besides offering standard controls for volume, play, pause, and skip forward/back, the display also includes icons showing whether the speaker needs recharged or if there's a firmware update available. There's also a button you can use to quickly pick from five preset playlists or radio stations which you can set up via the Libratone app.

I wouldn't call any of these touch control functions or alerts negatives. Instead, I think most would better serve the users if they only resided on the Libratone app and not on the device itself. As it stands, too much has been crammed into an interface that you can't even see from a distance because of its location on the device. Two things I do like about the touch control is the ability to lower the music momentarily by placing your hand over the interface, and the correct feature that will scan the device's surroundings to create a customized sound.

You should also be aware that the Libratone Zipp 2 isn't waterproof, which is disappointing given the device would work very nicely next to a pool. The speaker is humidity resistant, however.

Are you looking to add a new sleeve to your speaker? Be aware these sleeves aren't easy to remove or put on again because of their tight fit. If you have color on your mind, a better solution might be to buy multiple Libratone speakers in different hues.

My only other beef is with the Libratone app, not the smart speaker itself. At issue is the setup process within the app for those five presets that were mentioned previously. In a word, the process is confusing and limited to adding internet radio stations (from TuneIn) or playlists from Spotify or Tidal. My advice: Libratone should drop the feature on a future release or make the setup more comfortable and extend to other services such as Apple Music.

Featured packed

Libratone Zipp 2

The Libratone Zipp 2 was this close to receiving a five-star rating. Hopefully, that will come on a future version when certain features are tweaked. The Zipp 2 is a great speaker with lots of useful features such as Amazon Alexa, Apple AirPlay 2, and much more. Whether you buy one or 10, you'll be happy with your purchase.

See Libratone Zipp 2 at Amazon

Have any questions?

If you have any questions or concerns about the Libratone Zipp 2 or smart speakers in general, let us know below.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.