B&W Zeppelin speaker

B&W has made a grand, sweeping entrance into the lucrative iPod accessory market with the lush but pricey Zeppelin.


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Bowers and Wilkins or B&W is a posh British audio company best known for creating seriously smooth hi-fi equipment. The company produced the speakers that sit inside the Abbey Road studios, so it's fair to say that they're rather good at the old tweeter-and-woofer jive. Now B&W has made a grand, sweeping entrance into the lucrative iPod accessory market with the Zeppelin, a lovingly crafted speaker that retails for a slightly shocking AU$999.95.

Design
Dirigible, elongated football, a tipped-over eye of Sauron — the Zeppelin is sort of like a Rorschach inkblot test in that the way you describe its ovoid shape reflects your own psychology. The designers at B&W were obviously inspired by German airships when drawing up the blueprints, though the decision to align a top-of-the-line audio device with a dirigible fated for disaster is bold to say the least.

Regardless of how you interpret the Zeppelin's form factor, it's a look that will draw attention in any lounge room. The black-clad speaker is sleek and imposing, its heft and lack of buttons adding up to one fine-lookin' piece of audio.

The design of the dock connection is quite nifty; instead of being a rigid dock that traps your iPod between the speakers, the Zeppelin has a spring-loaded arm that allows you to hold the player when it's plugged in.

The ovoid remote fits nicely in the palm, but its tiny identical buttons don't display the same level of creativity that went into the main unit. The piano-black finish and mirrored back draw fingerprints, and the compact size means you're liable to lose the remote between the couch cushions if you're not careful.

The other accessory, a rubber, oval-shaped stand, looks like it was shipped with the wrong product, but everything starts to make sense when you attach it to the base of the speaker. The stand changes the angle of sound projection by tilting the speaker up, allowing songs to be projected into a room instead of toward the floor.

Features
Beyond "resemblance to rigid dirigible" and "sonic superiority to every other iPod speaker", the Zeppelin doesn't sport an overwhelming number of features. However, there are enough sockets to keep everyone happy; beneath the gleaming silver of the rear side you've got S-Video and composite video outputs, so you can hook the Zeppelin up to your telly. There are also analogue and optical audio inputs for plugging in other music sources.

Performance
We tested the Zeppelin with a range of songs, from skanky 128-kilobit MP3s to full-flavoured Apple lossless files. Each song confirmed initial suspicions: the Zeppelin is the best-sounding iPod speaker we've encountered. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' Red Right Hand — a song that highlights the limitations of most speaker docks and hi-fi systems — was richly detailed, the bass-heavy instrumentation clearly distinct from Cave's similarly pitched vocals. The ratchet-like scraping sound of a guiro during the mid-song interlude was particularly nicely reproduced, emerging from the background with spine-tingling effect.

All up, the Zeppelin sounded more like a set of hi-fi speakers than the majority of reverb-heavy iPod docks that have inhabited our test room. For the ultimate comparison, we tested the Zeppelin against B&W's own CM1 speakers. While they weren't too far off in terms of audio definition, the main difference was the width of the sound. Understandably, the 64cm-wide Zeppelin can't quite compete against the CM1s when it comes to full-bodied, room-filling stereo sound.

Just for kicks, we also went the other way and pitted the Zeppelin against an aging yet plucky Altec Lansing inMotion 7 dock. The comparatively tinny, muddied audio emanating from the Altec Lansing model highlighted the Zeppelin's refinement, as did the older product's inability to handle bass at upper volumes without resorting to distracting reverberation.

Compared to other iPod docks we've tested, the Zeppelin sounds fantastic. Songs are rich, full and meaty, but our credit card-grabbing hand is slowed a little by the fact that it does cost a thousand dollars. Still, if you charge your friends an entry fee every time you have a party, the Zeppelin will quickly pay for itself.

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Don0508
10
Rating
 

"Best Speakers Ever!"

Don0508 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Perfect Sound Quality, Excellent Design, Great Build Quality.

The Bad:Nothing

This is an amazing set of luxury speakers. The build quality is fabulous and solid, the design is beyond amazing and the sound quality is excellent. The bass is solid, deep and booming while the mids and highs are clear and loud.

The only negative thing is that the remote could be improved, but that isn't a big deal whatsoever.

I love walking into my room and seeing my B&W Zeppelin speakers, they just look so great with my other equipment, such as my Sony BRAVIA and my MacBook Pro.

Andy
1
Rating
 

Andy posted a review   

The Good:Nice looking

The Bad:Lasted 2 months before they literally started smoking!

I purchased these two months ago only to discover last week when plaaying music through them a very strange smell. I was shocked to discover that smoke was coming out of the two holes/vents in the back of the speaker unit. And yes, I did record this on video if you want to see it!

What's the point of decent design if the device sets itself on fire! Hopeless.

As regards the sound, the Zeppelin is far to bass heavy. Very muddy sound and no playing around with iPhone eq levels could fix it.

AVOID AT ALL COSTS - particularly if you not fond of house fires - disco inferno indeed.

 

DenniK posted a comment   

Amazing sound. I upgraded from a BOSE dock (the turning/folding away dock, steel one). Chalk and cheese compared with the BnW. And my BOSE was GOOD! Its so heavy, beautiful and does what It should. I did the firmware upgrade and it loves my 3GS. Apparently will work with iP4 as well.

Peerless design. Quality construction. Feels good buying it, owning it and using it. I also really like the Bose equipment but this sound trumps both BOSE offerings.

There was a very functional Pioneer unit, that even had CD slot, HDMI and some great features only $378AUD from JB HI-FI but the sound was not good enough for me. It looks like the BOSE Dock in white. Check it out in the sub $500 range.

But above $500, this is a great unit.

lyndon
5
Rating
 

lyndon posted a review   

The Good:looks, connectivity to other devices

The Bad:not as loud as I'd like, stupid remote,unreliable

Bought one a year ago,was getting electric shocks of that one, was replaced. 2nd one has now completely died, is either going to be repaired or replaced. Not real happy, told by supplier they have had issues and the newer one's should be better! So I'm hoping for a replacement!

John21209
10
Rating
 

John21209 posted a review   

The Good:Amazing sound, Great shape

The Bad:None

It is amazing, well worth the money

Nipples
10
Rating
 

Nipples posted a review   

The Good:Audio perfection, Contemporary design

The Bad:Others say price, but you get what you pay for.

I've owned this ipod speaker for 6 months now and still the sound quailty amazes me. The perfection fom this speaker easily fills our large living room. The design is also a compliment to the fellas at B&W. If you can stretch your budget to spending the $ for this product, DO IT! You need to understand though, this is a high-end product therefore i can justify the price. If you want the best, then this is the only speaker i suggest. Seriously, just look at it. PERFECT

ajex cruz
7
Rating
 

ajex cruz posted a review   

its stylish,sleek and very cool looking but the price is not cool.

meguerra
8
Rating
 

meguerra posted a review   

The Good:They both look and sound really good.
The Vaf has way better bass and cleaner highs at higher volumes.

The Bad:Zepplin too expensive and has way more distortion at higher volumes levels. Vaf limited remote functions with ipod touch menu (interface)

I have both B&W Zepplin and the Vaf Octavio 1. They both sound really good but the Vaf sounds better at louder volumes than the Zepplin but you can use more of the ipod touch menu controls with the Zepplin remote. On the Vaf remote is only good for volume up or down and < > and power on/off functions on the remote. You can get the Vaf for just under $200 if you look around on the net. Zepplin is cheapest on Ebay for aroun $450 to $550. If I had to choose on over the other would be the Vaf Octavio 1. I have a ipod touch 2 generation.

lyndon
8
Rating
 

lyndon posted a review   

looking at either the Vaf octavio 1 or the Zeppelin, not sure which way to go yet? Where is the cheapest place to source a Zeppelin? Do the Octavio 1 have the same connectivity in regards to being able to hook up to TV and also an Airport Express? Has anyone heard if the Airport Express will be able to do video in future? Would love to be able to stream music to the player and video to the TV wirelessly. Thanks

Zeke
9
Rating
 

Zeke posted a review   

The Good:Great Sound
Works well with Nano, iPod Touch and iPhone.

The Bad:Remote is a bit crappy - Battery dead already!!!

Got one for Christmas, Very Impressive sound. I have listened to Rock, Electronic, Pop, Hip Hop etc etc and it has not faltered. Good Unit.


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User Reviews / Comments  B&W Zeppelin speaker

  • Don0508

    Don0508

    Rating10

    "This is an amazing set of luxury speakers. The build quality is fabulous and solid, the design is beyond amazing and the sound quality is excellent. The bass is solid, deep and booming while the mi..."

  • Andy

    Andy

    Rating1

    "I purchased these two months ago only to discover last week when plaaying music through them a very strange smell. I was shocked to discover that smoke was coming out of the two holes/vents in the ..."

  • DenniK

    DenniK

    "Amazing sound. I upgraded from a BOSE dock (the turning/folding away dock, steel one). Chalk and cheese compared with the BnW. And my BOSE was GOOD! Its so heavy, beautiful and does what It should...."

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