Libratone Zipp £370
21st Nov 2012 | 11:00
Is this woolly AirPlay speaker a wolf in sheep's clothing?
Libratone's Zipp portable AirPlay speaker looks great. It comes with interchangeable woollen sleeves: a grey one, red one and blue one, or the 'funky' black, pink and yellow.
Controls and inputs are cleverly hidden behind the leather carrying handle. As well as doing AirPlay in the usual way - streaming music wirelessly from devices on the same network - its PlayDirect feature lets you stream without a network using an ad-hoc connection. The Zipp also has a four-hour rechargeable battery.
PlayDirect isn't perfect. It blocks your normal Wi-Fi connection to the internet, so you can't use streaming services such as Spotify or TuneIn Radio. With an iPhone or cellular-equipped iPad, you can monkey with your settings to allow a simultaneous cell data connection, but mind your data caps if you're streaming from the internet.
Audio quality is generally good, with decently chunky bass, sufficient competency in the mid-range and clarity at the top end. But it won't blow you away, and for £370 we damn well want to be blown away.
Naturally there's zero stereo separation, but we can live with that. And by experimenting with some of the equaliser presets in the accompanying app, you can coax the sound to be a little more exciting, especially in its weak mid-range.
But judged on sound alone, we'd expect to pay at least £150 less than what's being asked here.