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PREORDER Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin

Brand: Bowers & Wilkins
Product Code: Zeppelin
Availability: PREORDER
$5,988
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The Zeppelin Wireless, a new iteration in the B&W wireless product line-up, is a good-looking well-built wireless music speaker that boasts strong all-around performance. It features versatile connectivity, which accepts both wired and wireless (through Bluetooth or Wi-fi) connections. And regardless of the type of connection you choose, the Zeppelin Wireless delivers high-fidelity sound that will satisfy the audio enthusiasts who want convenience without sacrificing audio performance.

The Zeppelin Wireless is advertised as a single multi-driver speaker that promises performance and versatility through the application of various technologies derived from B&W long history in audio engineering. This review should highlight whether the product delivers as promised.

The Zeppelin Wireless, just like the previous Zeppelin product family, has a blimp-like shape. If I have to guess, its blimp-shaped appearance is where the name Zeppelin is derived from. The front-part of the speaker is covered by a non-removable grill, with cloth cover. All the speaker connectors are located on the bottom rear of the speaker. The volume control of the speaker is located on its top part, while the input selector is on the bottom front, to the side of the speaker’s Bowers & Wilkins logo. All these controls are touch sensitive (capacitive), giving the speaker an overall clean and simple look. To me, the speaker appearance is unique and elegant. It is a room-décor enhancer, which I would proudly display in my living room for all my guests to see. It is quite an eye-catching design, but it can also be put inconspicuously on the shelf or on one corner of the room if desired.

While the appearance of the Zeppelin Wireless speaker can be said to be simple, it contains significant engineering features under its hood. First of all, B&W manages to pack five drivers into the speaker, consisting of two 1″ double-dome tweeters, two 3.5″ midrange, and one 6.5″ long-throw subwoofer. These drivers are of the types found in other B&W hi-fi speakers. For example, the double-dome tweeter uses the same tweeter technology as the one used in the B&W CM series speakers. The midrange uses Fixed Suspension Transducer (FST) driver technology as found on the B&W flagship 800 Series Diamond speakers. This technology is intended to remove unwanted resonance for better clarity and more precise sound reproduction. These drivers are individually driven by class D amplifiers in a stereo 2.1 design (4 x 25 W amplifications drive the tweeter-midrange pairs, and 1 x 50 W amplification drives the subwoofer). Moreover, the Zeppelin Wireless has its own 192kHz/24bit Digital to Analogue Converter (DAC) and Digital Signal Processing (DSP), which is said to be twice as powerful as the one in its predecessor (Zeppelin Air). The enclosure of the Zeppelin Wireless is fabricated from 30% glass-fiber reinforced ABS and 50% thicker than the previous-generation Zeppelins. The implementation of all these features shows the seriousness of B&W quest to get as high performance as possible from the product.

The Zeppelin Wireless is also more versatile than its predecessors in terms of wireless connectivity. Previous-generation Zeppelins are limited to Airplay only. But this iteration of Zeppelin has Bluetooth and Spotify Connect capability on top of Airplay. Thus it accommodates wider range of potential customers to include non-Apple users. Even Windows users can connect wirelessly to the Zeppelin using the Airplay feature in the Windows version of iTunes. The software that is used to wirelessly connect to the Zeppelin can also be used to control its volume level. At the time of this writing, Android users cannot directly use their phone to control the playing of their music collections through Wi-fi. I just wish B&W would develop an Android app for this purpose, which definitely will increase its level of versatility.

If you plan to use the Zeppelin through wireless connection, you can pretty much put the speaker in any desired location in the house near an available power outlet. Following the manual, I found setting up the speaker for wireless usage is relatively easy. Since I am not an Apple user, during the review, wireless connection to the Zeppelin was made through Bluetooth using my Android phone and through wi-fi using the Airplay feature in the iTunes for Windows version from my desktop. Both connections worked flawlessly. For comparison, wired analog connection from my phone to the Zeppelin was also tried.