We can't be the only ones to face this problem - going home for Christmas, hoping for a bit of that holiday cheer and some classic tunes from the likes of Bing, Bublé and more, but being confronted by ageing or non-existent sound systems on the home front.
There's nothing like a portable speaker to sort out issues like this. Not long ago this would have meant reedy-sounding, underwhelming options, but now there's a trove of great audio options to pick from. One of the very best out there is the Libratone ZIPP 2, which we reviewed earlier this year.
It's a classy bit of kit, and absolutely one of our picks this holiday season. We thought we'd explain why, though, with a few of the key reasons you should think about picking one up this year.
1. It's all about sound quality
At the end of the day, a speaker's success basically boils down to one thing - sound quality. The ZIPP 2 is a winner on that front (we wouldn't recommend any other sort). It's got 360-degree sound, to fill whatever space you use it in, and has a range of presets that seriously boost your musical performance.
A brilliant room correction feature also means the ZIPP 2 can scan the space it's in and adapt its profile to suit it best - it's properly seamless and works superbly. Plus, you can link speakers together for stereo playback if you fancy an upgrade. Regardless, wherever you rock up to, the ZIPP 2 will do a great job of adding high-quality music to your ambience options.
2. Portability is where it's at
That leads us into our next point - the ZIPP 2 would be a pretty excellent speaker even if it was tethered to the wall and static, but that's far from the case.
It's fully portable, in short, with a 12-hour battery that should see you through a busy day of moving around and changing environments. That might mean "moving to the kitchen from the living room to cook the holiday meal" or "taking it out for a blisteringly cold Christmas picnic". Whatever floats your boat!
That room-scanning means that quick changes are no issue, and the full sound profile makes for impressive performance whether it's in the background at an outdoor gathering or providing the tunes for a full-on house party.
Portability is well and good, but it's only going to serve you well if you can rely on your speaker to be able to connect in whatever way's most useful at your destination. The ZIPP 2 is a reliable choice when it comes to getting connected. It's got AirPlay 2 built-in, one of the easiest playback systems going, plus Spotify Connect if that's your streaming platform of choice, which, let's face it, it probably is.
But wired connections are far from dead, and the ZIPP 2 is all the better for including a 3.5mm jack and a USB port, to really open your world up. Not to mention the requisite Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi and DNLA options. You're unlikely to end up stumped for a connection, which is pretty much the key to portable speaker nirvana.
4. That unique design
Look, the technical wizardry is all well and good, but possibly our favourite thing about the ZIPP 2 is that unconventional, bold design. This ain't your grandpa's Bluetooth speaker.
This is a device that's actually had love poured into the design process, and that's interested in looking striking, not just fitting in with the bland matte-black masses. The coloured fabric jacket sleeve paired with a statement zip (can you figure out the naming process?) looks unlike anything else on the market, in a good way. Why not stand out?
5. Alexa is the key
As we've mentioned, the ZIPP 2 is highly portable, but most people spend the majority of their time at home, so it's got a final bonus to offer up in the form of some smart home zing. The ZIPP 2 comes with Alexa functionality, meaning that you can control your music with Amazon's voice assistant, from pausing to volume control.
Of course, that's not all you can do, though. If you're a smart home enthusiast, you can, therefore, use the ZIPP 2 to control anything you've integrated with Alexa, making the ZIPP a potentially powerful tool in the right hands.