Music listening habits have come a long way since Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin speaker dock came out eight years (!) ago in 2007. The overhauled Zeppelin ditches the dock and adds Bluetooth—which is pretty much exactly what the thing needed.
The new Zeppelin Wireless is hardly a spec bump. The hardware has been completely overhauled. In addition to a slightly larger footprint, the company says the chassis is more rigid now, which will allow you to play at louder volumes without getting unwanted noise from the case itself.
Inside, speaker has five drivers, featuring two tweeters at the left and right points, two mid-range drivers, and then a woofer smack in the middle. It’s a clever design that works a bit like a soundbar to simulate a stereo setup from a single piece of hardware.
The important addition to this new unit is compatibility with all Bluetooth devices, which means that your friend with an Android phone will finally be able to pair with your speaker. The company has also added Spotify connect so that you can play directly from Spotify to the device over your home’s wifi. And of course, as with all B&W wireless gear, the new Zep work’s with Apple’s AirPlay—a technology that’s becoming increasingly irrelevant.
Bowers & Wilkins still has no Sonos-like software controller, which is a little surprising. Maybe that’s for the best if the company isn’t going to do a good job with it.
You want to ethernet your connection to your home network? You Can ethernet it!
The Zeppelin Wireless ships next week for $700, which is mighty pricey. There are much cheaper wireless audio options that come with more robust software. But let’s face it, if you’re buying Bowers gear you’re buying into that brand’s story and history that ties the speaker to the company obscenely expensive hifi speakers, as well as fancy hardware design. The thing looks beautiful and sounds great, and if you have the cash, you probably won’t be disappointed.
Photos by Michael Hession