B&w Zeppelin Wireless

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When Bowers & Wilkins introduced its Zeppelin in 2007, it set a new bar for vision-defying, audiophile-grade personal speakers. Over the past 15 years, these little special editions have evolved with new technology and features, evolving from the original iPod dock into a fully loaded wireless smart speaker. Launching in fall 2021, the new Zeppelin brings advanced streaming functionality and Amazon Alexa to the Bowers & Wilkins speaker line-up.

B&w Zeppelin Wireless

B&w Zeppelin Wireless

The 4th generation Zeppelin, like most smart speakers, is all about minimalist design and ease of use. But unlike most smart speakers, this cool airship should take center stage anywhere. The 14-pound ellipsoid floats atop its curved metal plinth, housing the Zeppelin’s five drivers and 240-watt amplifier in an elliptical cabinet more than 2 feet wide, its grille covered in a beautiful mesh fabric. (Choose from a deep, dark ‘midnight grey’ or a light ‘pearl grey’.)

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin (2021) Review

Concealed LED lighting emanating from the Zeppelin base creates a ghostly halo effect, enhancing the illusion that the speaker is moving above its stand. This downward-facing light shows status and activity and lets you know when Alexa is thinking; It can be dimmed or completely erased, but I liked the subtle shimmer.

The back of the speaker is made of smooth, matte plastic, and is featureless except for a raised bump that designates volume and playback controls, an Alexa voice control/mute button, and a multifunction/pairing button that displays various functions. . colors. Indicates duties. The buttons are easy to find by touch, which is useful since the Zeppelin doesn’t have a remote, but I moved the speaker forward to find the right controls. For those who often do not hold bicep curls, it will be more convenient to control the speaker with its accessory.

On the lower back, a recessed panel houses the power plug, reset button, and USB-C port (for service only). There’s no HDMI connection, which may disappoint anyone hoping the speaker can double-duty as a soundbar and put that 3.5mm cable back in the drawer, as the Zeppelin has no audio I/O. no, but with a speaker like this it’s very important. .

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Zeppelin is designed for casual use; Once you get through the initial setup, you won’t have to bother with it again. Its minimalist approach also applies to the packaging, reminiscent of Apple products: the box includes a quick guide and a power cable, and that’s it.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless Vezeték Nélküli Hangrendszer Teszt

Heavy lifting during installation can actually physically settle the speaker. Because of its awkward shape, the Zeppelin might not be the best choice if you’re looking for great bookshelf speakers to sit among other personal audio gear and physical media. But, let’s face it: Zeppelin needs to be shown. It works well on a flat surface like a console or on a pedestal that can be a centerpiece and conversation piece in your space. If you want to get really creative or just don’t have furniture, you can buy a wall mount for $100. When the Zeppelin was in my (very small) house, it sat in my bar cabinet, against a wall that was open on all sides.

Most of Zeppelin’s advanced controls are available in the B&W Music app, available for iOS and Android devices. A central app for installation and streaming, the app includes settings such as network setup, speaker naming, and connecting subscribed music services. Once plugged in, Zeppelin will be visible in the B&W app, so keep your device within range of the speaker when plugging in the product.

When I first started the speaker, nothing happened. A mysterious red indicator light appeared ahead; I thought this was a sign that something was wrong, but I couldn’t find an answer from the scant literature in the box. A quick chat with P&W led me to a firmware update, which was a completely frictionless process to use. A simple reset and I’m back in business, prompting me to add Zeppelin to my network. A long press of the multi-function button puts the speaker into direct pairing mode, selectable in your device’s Bluetooth settings, and remembers up to eight devices that can stream without sharing Wi-Fi.

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B&w Zeppelin Wireless

The B&W Music app offers built-in (subscription) access to a range of streaming services including Deezer, Qobuz, TIDAL, Soundcloud, Amazon Music and Last.fm (Spotify Hi-Fi will be supported when the service launches in 2022). Once connected, you can access music playlists, podcasts, radio stations and recently played tracks without leaving the app. B&W also offers curated playlists and recommendations; Based on your music “preferences,” the app learns your preferences, applies them across all streaming services, and improves accuracy over time.

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The app is clean, simple and very easy to use. You won’t find much in the way of EQ/tone creation/editing beyond the basic bass and treble faders, but the speaker setup is so good you won’t need them unless you’re dealing with room issues. I never had to adjust the EQ during my tests.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin can also stream via Apple AirPlay 2, Bluetooth 5.0 (including SBC, AAC and aptX adaptive codecs) and Spotify Connect, which streams Spotify tracks from the cloud directly to your phone via Wi-Fi. Compatibility with B&W’s Formation multiroom system is promised in 2022.

The app currently streams at 24-bit/96kHz resolution, but since the speaker converters are capable of accepting 192kHz files, streaming this content via AirPlay 2 or aptX Adaptive Bluetooth, as I did, can deliver high-res audio. (By comparison, CDs only have 16-bit/44.1 resolution, meaning some streaming services offer selected music in the best original studio-grade fidelity, without being affected by the limitations of the physical media format.)

The Zeppelin has a five-driver array with tweeters on the outer edges to maximize stereo separation. Bowers & Wilkins

B&w Zeppelin Wireless Speaker

It is installed through the Amazon Alexa Assistant app, where you can connect an existing account. Alexa voice control lets you stream music, control speakers and music playback, and use basic Alexa skills and functions.

Voice control works perfectly with any Alexa smart speaker: press the Alexa button to call the assistant or say commands that start with “Alexa”. Like most smart speakers, the Zeppelin lets you mute the field microphones by pressing and holding the Voice Service button if you’re worried Big Tech can hear you.

With an audiophile brand like B&W, reliability comes first. The Zeppelin features a carefully tuned five-driver insert that borrows acoustic technology from other B&W speakers to achieve true stereo sound from a single speaker, marking it as one of the best-sounding Bluetooth speakers out there.

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B&w Zeppelin Wireless

Two 1-inch, cut-out double-dome aluminum tweeters—the same high-frequency drivers used in P&W’s 600 Anniversary Series speakers—are mounted on the outer edges of the driver array, at the outer points of the speaker. Each tweeter consists of a very thin and light aluminum dome surrounded by a thick aluminum ring that adds rigidity and prevents audible distortion.

Bowers & Wilkins Launches Zeppelin Wireless Featuring Latest Wireless Technology

The wide elliptical design of the Zeppelin is not about aesthetics. With its tweeters positioned on the narrow outer edges, you’ll experience as much stereo separation as possible from a single speaker. B&W says the placement of the tweeters insulates them from vibrations caused by larger drivers in the cabinet.

Derived from B&W’s $40,000 800 Series Diamond line, the two-way 3.5-inch midrange drivers feature continuous-suspension transducer technology that maximizes the benefits of aramid fiber by improving cone response time and sonic integrity. B&W’s “surroundless” suspension optimizes the taper finish on the outer edge for clean midrange response. A long-range 6-inch subwoofer in the center fills the room with bass.

Together, the drivers provide a frequency range of 35Hz to 24kHz. All are powered by five Class D channels with a total power of 240 watts.

My first impression of the Zeppelin is that this speaker delivers an incredibly powerful, dynamic sonic presentation at any volume level, with a consistent sound signature that supports vocals and other midrange sounds.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless Speaker Review

I bypassed the app’s current limitations and directly streamed high-definition Tidal Master quality certified tracks. (Think of MQA as the musical equivalent of a ZIP file, a way to encode and distribute a full spectrum of audio in a compressed container on a listening device—a process Tidal calls “musical origami.”) Diana Krall’s “The. Recorded with Look Of London Symphony Orchestra, blockbuster jazz combo Zeppelin showcases all the nuances of Krall’s opulent silk-and-sandpaper vocal style in its most direct, live presentation. I was impressed by the Zeppelin’s tight, clear low-end response. Piano notes throughout the recording. Limited and I can easily pull it off, in practice Christian McBride deftly drags his fingers across the bass strings.

As for stereo imaging, neither speaker provides a separate pair.

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