Review

Published on December 13th, 2016 | by Jugal Parekh

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Libratone ZIPPs and ONEstyle – the perfect speakers?

A disclaimer – I have a massive bias for Scandinavian design, and it didn’t help when I first laid eyes on the Libratone speakers I got to review – ZIPP, ZIPPmini and ONEstyle. The company has consistently been winning design awards, and along with the amazing sound from its previous products, Libratone has managed to solidify its presence as the go-to brand for your next speaker purchase. The speakers are available for us to purchase in the UAE, and hopefully the following review should help you with your decision.

What are they?

truly wireless

These are a set of smart Bluetooth speakers from Libratone. They are truly wireless – not only do they work over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but they also have a built-in battery that lasts a respectable time. The ZIPPs are heavier and are meant to be your primary speakers to use at one location, whereas the ONEs are your portable speakers that you may take along with to the beach or to the park. All of that sounds common to a Bluetooth speaker from many competitors. Hereon, let us focus on what makes these speakers stand out.

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The Look

Their forms ooze of Danish design – pastel, minimalistic and premium. There are no ugly buttons anywhere on any of the speakers – it is all seamless. To be honest, I got confused at the beginning as to how do I use them – ZIPPs and ONE; I figured it must be via a smartphone app. I hate user manuals, but after fiddling around for 10 minutes, I gave up, and had to cave in. That little nightingale bird on the speakers was a touch-button! I would be ridiculed by Libratone loyalists as it is supposed to be common amongst their range.

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The ZIPPs are tall and dense cylinders with removable fabric covers that are available in a range of different colours. A leather handle on the side is sturdy and useful, without being an eye-sore.

pastel, minimalistic and premium

The ONEstyle on the other hand is a dense rectangle block; with a hook at the side to carry around the speaker. The bumper doubles up as the hook, and it can be replaced with different colours. I was sold on the reliability of the speaker – they surely can take an adventure including trips to the beach or the mountain.

ONEstyle

Overall, all three speakers look great, and there is nowhere that they will not blend in – whether you use them at a beach, in a posh room, or an open-layout modern office. And, that is what I love about Scandinavian minimalistic design.

The Sound and the Interaction

All three speakers sound amazing! Their 360-degrees sound approach works well, and no matter which of the three you choose, they will fill up the room. On that note, I must add that they have managed to distinguish between the ZIPP and the ONE product lines well – not in terms of sound quality but what the sound is meant to achieve. While the ZIPP line gives a complete immersion into the music with a balanced bass and treble, the ONE aims to be as loud and clear as possible for the listener on-the-go. The speakers sound natural and well within capacity no matter how loud you crank up the volume; although, I would always pick the larger ZIPP over the mini, simply because it is not a lot more extra dough for the longer battery life, and the step up in overall sound quality.

They are ticking literally every feature that today’s speakers can do collectively

Now, the cool part – not only are they truly wireless because of the in-built battery like I mentioned before, but you can connect up to six of the ZIPPs on the Wi-Fi network to listen to your music throughout your home or office or F&B setup. The ONEs can be paired in twos to complete your stereo setup. The speakers can play the same songs, or you may listen to different tracks via each individual speaker. All of this can be controlled via their Libratone app. Apart from their own app, you can even use these speakers via Bluetooth, or stream music via AirPlay, DLNA, and even set up internet radio stations to play directly from the speakers. They are ticking the box on literally every feature that today’s speakers can do collectively!

BUT

The speakers have a few cons that are not a complete killjoy, but they do nag.

The app is kind of a hit and miss to connect.  Your speakers are playing music via Bluetooth or internet radio, and yet the phone app is “searching” for those speakers! However, the app is quite a delight to use and unlike some of the other brands that I have used, you can play with the equaliser to match your listening style.

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The touch button at the top does it all, and therein lay the weakness. It is not entirely intuitive to use an unmarked touch button to adjust volume, change songs, connect to the speaker or create a multi-speaker network, and to pause; all via swipes and taps. It is a trade-off for a minimal and clean design, and it does require behaviour change – not cool! However, it is a wireless speaker, and with the range of connectivity options, you never would need to control the speaker through that silly one touch button!

The touch button at the top is one thing does it all, and therein lay the weakness

As wonderful as the speaker is, with crisp and clean sounds – there is a lag when you link up more than one speaker. That is disruptive while watching a movie, unless the speed of the visual is adjusted to match the sound lag. The lag would not be noticeable in a purely audio experience.

The Verdict

I love these speakers! If you can live with the negatives, these should be your next audio purchase. They sound like Bose, have smartness of Sonos, and portable like a mini Bluetooth speaker with a multitude of connectivity options. Their range is diversified enough that you will find the perfect speaker for you or your loved one. The ONEstyle is available for AED 729, the ZIPP mini for AED 999, and the ZIPP for AED 1299, and you can pick them up at Virgin, iStyle and select online stores. Do I hear “perfect festive gift”?

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About the Author

Jugal Parekh is professionally involved with product & services design & development, with special focus on healthcare. He is passionate about information – whether technological, philosophical, or business related. Currently, his setup combines Apple’s hardware with Google’s cloud, oh, with Windows 7 on Parallels (for the mac).



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