This honest review was written in collaboration with John Lewis and contains affiliate links.
What’s a summer holiday without a memorable soundtrack? There’s no need to be bound to the tinny speakers of your phone or laptop. Instead, pack a portable speaker that presents your favourite music as it was meant to be heard.
If you’re heading to a festival, holiday home, or even if you’re planning to hang out in the back garden all summer, make sure you check out the range of wireless and Bluetooth speakers available at John Lewis.
They have a portable speaker for all budgets and activities. So, whether you need a lightweight and waterproof speaker for hiking, or you need a high tech, top end speaker for lounging at the holiday home, John Lewis has you covered.
All John Lewis speakers come with a 2 year guarantee for peace of mind, free delivery and free click & collect, as well as free returns.
As part of their portable speaker campaign, the kind folks over at John Lewis sent me a speaker of my own to try out; the Libratone Zipp. All opinions expressed below are my own.
Libratone Zipp Speaker Review
I’ve said it time and again here on Cosmic Kick: Music is my life. It means everything to me. The better it sounds, the better the experience.
I’ve owned both expensive and cheap speakers and headphones, so feel I’m knowledgeable enough to advise on home music tech. My other-half is also a music producer and complete audiophile too, which means if my audio sounds bad, I’ll hear all about it from him.
The Libratone Zipp Sound
Once I’d worked out how to alter the sound settings, the Libratone Zipp was able to produce an intensely enjoyable audio experience so powerful that it’s easy to forget that you’re listening to a wireless speaker.
To start, I tested it with David Bowie’s ‘Black Star’. It’s my go-to track for testing audio equipment as there’s a lot going on in that short, ten minute period. There’s Drum and Bass, Electronic Jazz, and a good range of vocals. Listening to it on the Zipp is magical.
The vocals produced are eerily clear; it sounds like Bowie is in the room. His voice perfectly encompassed by the backing track of the saxophone, ever-changing time signatures and chanting. Each instrument seemingly fine-tuned for the song and jumping forward whenever it’s their turn to solo.
Next up was Die Antwoord’s ‘Happy Go Sucky’: An aggressive, thumping trance track, fronted by shouted high pitched lead vocals on a foundation of gritty, industrial bass. This track really shows off the Zipp’s woofer. I’ve never heard bass with such clarity from a portable speaker.
I cycled through some other genres: Classical with O Fortuna, then on to metal with Slipknot and back to the early 2000’s with Bomfunk MC’s breakbeat hit, Freestyler. No matter what genre, presentation is consistently full bodied and rich and sounds as though it’s tailored to each individual song.
The sound flows from the speaker in true 360 direction. Wayne and I have our PC’s back to back with the speaker between us and the audio was crystal clear from every angle.
Portability & Build
This speaker comes in two sizes. Mine is the largest option and is perfect for taking on long road trips, to the caravan or hotel, for use around the home or in the garden. But if you’re looking for a speaker to carry with you all day long, this is going to be too bulky. John Lewis sells the Zipp Mini which would be better suited.
The leather strap means you can just grab and take the speaker with you. The strap can be removed and the fabric cover replaced with another colour.
The build of the unit is solid and has a high quality, expensive feel, but due to it’s weight I wouldn’t want to drop it to test it’s durability.
The Zipp is a beautiful device that won’t look out of place in any setting and would sit nicely next to ornaments or a home assistant like Google Home.
Apart from the power button located at the back of the unit, everything on the speaker can be controlled in two ways: Via the app or the touch panel at the top of the device.
The Mockingbird touch panel is a clever addition. Here you can skip tracks, connect additional speakers seamlessly using the Soundscape feature, control volume by running your finger around the edge of the circle, and cycle through your favourite internet radio stations. There’s also a nifty “hush” feature that allows you to temporarily quieten the speaker by placing your hand over the mockingbird. Cool huh?
I spoke about the quality of sound above, but what I didn’t mention was the system sounds; Those that are heard when turning the product on and off or connecting to a device. These system sounds are incredibly loud – and I couldn’t find a way to turn them down – so be prepared when you turn the speaker on for a powerful *BWOOP” noise.
The Zipp has several connection options, including WiFi, Bluetooth, 3.5mm cable jack, Airplay, DLNA and Spotify. I tested the speaker using WiFi, Bluetooth and cable.
As a tech-addict this should of been easy, but I found the app made WiFi incredibly awkward to set up. Once the Zipp was on the network it refused to stay connected. After trying for several hours over 2 days I gave up and settled for Bluetooth.
Bluetooth is much easier to set up. Just connect the same way you would any of your other Bluetooth devices and you’re set.
The Libratone app is not necessary to use the speaker, but using it allows you to change sound settings, it contains a huge list of internet radio stations, updates firmware and so on, so it’s advised to install it.
In my opinion though, the app falls short and Libratone could really do with redesigning it. Swiping through these options is a little clunky and it’s easy to select the wrong option. There were times my speaker wouldn’t even appear on the app even though it was on the network.
Once you’re in though, you have the option to choose sound-settings based on what type of surface the Zipp is sitting on. i.e, “outdoors”, “shelves”, “floor” etc. There’s also mood and style settings like “movie”, “live concert” and “spoken word”. I used these in conjunction with the Apple Music equaliser to tweak the settings into an experience tailored for my lug holes.
The box says I should get 10 hours out of the speaker. I’ve managed around 8-10 hours. There’s a USB jack on the back too so you can keep your mobile devices charged on the go, but this will drain the battery faster.
Based on sound alone, the Libratone Zipp would be impressive if it were a regular wall powered speaker. The added portability, connectivity and touch controls means that you can now take powerful, rich music on the go. It’s a speaker I would certainly recommend to fellow music nerds and one without a doubt the most enjoyable musical experience I’ve had at this price range.
Grab your portable speaker in time for summer from John Lewis.