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Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Review: Rebirth of the frosty

When Bowers & Wilkins presented its Zeppelin in 2007, it intention a brand contemporary bar for visually spirited, audiophile-grade private speakers. Right thru the last 15 years, versions of this compact standout like superior with contemporary applied sciences and aspects, evolving from the usual iPod dock to a fully loaded wi-fi perfect speaker. Doubtlessly the…

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Review: Rebirth of the frosty

When Bowers & Wilkins presented its Zeppelin in 2007, it intention a brand contemporary bar for visually spirited, audiophile-grade private speakers. Right thru the last 15 years, versions of this compact standout like superior with contemporary applied sciences and aspects, evolving from the usual iPod dock to a fully loaded wi-fi perfect speaker. Doubtlessly the most modern Zeppelin, presented in fall 2021, brings superior streaming capabilities and the Amazon Alexa assistant into the Bowers & Wilkins speaker’s procedure intention.

A sleek ship

The 4th-generation Zeppelin, love most perfect speakers, is all about minimalist assemble and ease of use. Nonetheless unlike most perfect speakers, this imposing airship is supposed to preserve center stage in any home. A 14-pound ellipse that reputedly floats atop its crooked metal pedestal, Zeppelin packs five drivers and 240 watts of amplification into an elliptical enclosure measuring extra than 2-toes huge, its grille sheathed in luxe mesh fabric. (Secure from deep, sunless-ish “unimaginative evening gray” or light “pearl gray” finishes.)

A hidden LED light radiating down from Zeppelin’s disagreeable creates a ghostly halo end, reinforcing the appears that the speaker is levitating above its stand. This downward-facing light indicates dwelling and capabilities and skill that you just can know when Alexa is taking under consideration; it might well perhaps perhaps perhaps be dimmed or entirely grew to change into off, however I cherished the beautiful glow.

The speaker’s bottom is executed in tender, matte plastic, which is featureless set apart for embossed icons running along the head that label quantity and playback controls, an Alexa remark regulate/mic quiet button, and a multifunction/pairing button that displays a fluctuate of colors indicating responsibilities. The buttons are easy to search out by contact, which is purposeful since Zeppelin doesn’t like a some distance off, however I came across myself tipping the speaker forward to detect the sleek controls. Folks that aren’t into frequent bicep curls will bring together it extra convenient to manage the speaker thru its partner app.

On the lower lend a hand, a recessed panel properties a energy walk, reset button, and USB-C port (for service best). There’s no HDMI connection, which might well perhaps perhaps disappoint somebody hoping the speaker can multitask as a soundbar, and build that 3.5mm cable lend a hand within the drawer resulting from Zeppelin has no audio I/Os—however with a speaker love this, that’s sort of the point.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin rear panel in midnight grey
Zeppelin achieves its overall aerodynamic silhouette attributable to its focal point on wi-fi connectivity.  Bowers & Wilkins

Getting started with the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin

Zeppelin is designed for easy use; once you web previous the preliminary setup, you won’t like to fuss with it again. Its minimalist come extends to packaging, which is paying homage to Apple merchandise: the box included a short manual and energy cord and that’s about it.

The heaviest blueprint shut throughout setup might well perhaps perhaps literally be bodily placing the speaker. Due to its irregular shape, the Zeppelin isn’t the very best desire must you’re attempting to search out the simplest bookshelf speakers to nestle amongst varied private audio equipment and physical media. Nonetheless, let’s face it: Zeppelin is supposed to be proven off. It works effectively sitting atop a flat ground akin to a console, or on a pedestal that can help as a centerpiece—and dialog part—to your private home. Whereas you in fact are attempting to web ingenious, otherwise you’re out of furnishings home, a discreet wall bracket is on hand for $100. For the time Zeppelin became in my (very tiny) home, it took up dwelling on my bar cupboard, which sits against a wall in a condominium that’s open on all aspects.

Let the app be your manual

Most of Zeppelin’s superior controls are within the B&W Music app, which is on hand for both iOS and Android gadgets. The app, which serves as a hub for setup and streaming, takes you thru setup, at the side of configuring your community, naming your speaker, and linking your subscribed tune companies and products. Once plugged in, the Zeppelin turns into discoverable within the B&W app, so abet your plot within fluctuate of the speaker as you add the product.

After I first booted up the speaker, however, nothing took intention. A mysterious purple indicator light appeared on the entrance; I figured this became a brand that something became amiss, however couldn’t bring together solutions within the less-is-extra literature that came within the box. A like a flash chat with B&W led me to a firmware upgrade, which became a fully friction-free process within the app. A easy reset and I became lend a hand in enterprise, navigating prompts so as to add Zeppelin to my community. A long press of the multifunction button moreover locations the speaker into insist pairing mode, selectable to your plot’s Bluetooth settings, and it might well perhaps perhaps perhaps be acutely conscious up to eight gadgets that can dash to it without sharing the Wi-Fi.

Streaming simplicity

The B&W Music app provides built-in (subscriber) access to a fluctuate of streaming companies and products at the side of Deezer, Qobuz, TIDAL, Soundcloud, Amazon Music, and Final.fm (Spotify Hello-Fi will doubtless be supported when the service launches in 2022). Whereas you join, it is possible you’ll perhaps perhaps perhaps access tune playlists, podcasts, radio stations, and recently played tracks without ever leaving the app. B&W moreover provides curated playlists and suggestions; the app learns your preferences fixed at the side of your tune “likes,” applying them across all your streaming companies and products and bettering accuracy over time.

The app is graceful, easy, and intensely easy to make use of. You won’t bring together a lot within the intention in which of EQ/tone sculpting/correcting previous current Bass and Treble faders, however the speaker’s tuning is so finessed, you won’t need these except it be crucial to compensate for room concerns. I by no intention needed to adjust the EQ throughout my assessments.

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin can moreover dash thru Apple AirPlay 2, Bluetooth 5.0 (at the side of the SBC, AAC, and aptX Adaptive codecs), and Spotify Join, which streams Spotify tracks without extend from the cloud thru Wi-Fi versus your phone. Compatibility with B&W’s Formation multiroom setup is promised in 2022.

The app currently streams at 24-bit/96 kHz resolution, however for the explanation that speaker’s converters are in a position to accepting 192 kHz recordsdata, it is possible you’ll perhaps perhaps perhaps feed it increased-resolution audio by streaming that pronounce material over AirPlay 2 or aptX Adaptive Bluetooth, as I did. (A CD, for comparability, is best in a position to 16-bit/44.1 resolution, that intention some streaming companies and products assemble the next job of presenting blueprint shut tune in usual studio-grade constancy, which isn’t impacted by physical media format limitations.)

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin interior speakers render
Zeppelin aspects a five-driver array, with tweeters oriented on the outer edges to maximise stereo separation. Bowers & Wilkins

Getting to grab Alexa

Amazon Alexa assistance is made up our minds up thru the app, where it is possible you’ll perhaps perhaps perhaps hyperlink to an gift yarn. Alexa remark regulate skill that you just can dash tune, regulate the speaker and tune playback, and access conventional Alexa skills and capabilities.

Command regulate works exactly the intention in which it does on any Alexa perfect speaker: press the Alexa button to summon the assistant or talk instructions starting up with “Alexa.” Cherish most perfect speakers, Zeppelin skill that you just can quiet its discipline microphones must you’re (rightfully) taking under consideration Tall Tech being attentive to you, staunch press and withhold the Command Carrier button.

With an audiophile brand love B&W, constancy is paramount. To assemble staunch stereo sound from a single speaker, and set apart it as one amongst the very best-sounding Bluetooth speakers, Zeppelin aspects a moderately oriented five-driver complement that borrows acoustic applied sciences from varied B&W speakers.

Two 1-jog, decoupled double-dome aluminum tweeters—the identical high-frequency drivers old in B&W’s 600 Anniversary Series loudspeakers—are mounted on the open air edges of the driver array, on the speaker’s outermost system. Each tweeter aspects an awfully thin and light aluminum dome surrounded by a thicker aluminum ring that provides stress and prevents audible distortion.

Zeppelin’s tall elliptical assemble isn’t staunch about aesthetics. On yarn of its tweeters are positioned at its tapered outer contours, you’ll abilities as a lot stereo separation as possible from a single speaker. B&W says the tweeters’ placement moreover isolates them from vibration prompted by the bigger drivers within the enclosure.

Dual 3.5-jog midrange drivers, taken from B&W’s $40,000 800 Series Diamond Line, procedure proprietary Mounted Suspension Transducer technology, which maximizes the advantages of aramid fiber by bettering cone response times and integrity of sound transmission. B&W’s “surroundless” suspension improves outer-edge cone termination, for graceful midrange response. A long-throw 6-jog subwoofer within the center fills the room with bass.

Collectively, the drivers instruct a frequency fluctuate of 35 Hz to 24 kHz. All the pieces is powered by five channels of Class D amplification totaling 240 watts.

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin sound

My first impression of the Zeppelin became that this speaker delivers an extremely great, dynamic sonic presentation at any quantity level, with a cohesive sonic signature that’s especially favorable to vocals and varied midrange sounds.

I streamed high-res TIDAL Master Quality Authenticated tracks without extend, circumventing the app’s contemporary limitations. (Think MQA as the musical identical of a ZIP file, a technique to encode and distribute full-spectrum audio in a compressed container that unfolds within the listener’s plot—a process TIDAL calls “musical origami.”) Taking label of Diana Krall’s “The Witness of Worship,” recorded with a blockbuster jazz combo and the London Symphony Orchestra, Zeppelin revealed every nuance of Krall’s luxurious silk-and-sandpaper vocal stylings in an awfully insist, practical presentation. I became struck by Zeppelin’s tight, defined low-cease response; piano notes like been defined across the total register and I might well perhaps perhaps without concerns blueprint shut, nearly indubitably feel, Christian McBride deftly pulling his fingers across the bass strings.

By stereo imaging, no single speaker will ever offer the separation of a discrete pair and it might well perhaps perhaps perhaps be unfair to evaluate the experiences. Nonetheless Zeppelin does an admiral job at producing a tall, defined soundstage, with clear separation at shut fluctuate. Whereas the plush string preparations might well perhaps perhaps no longer like felt as huge as they would on a pair of speakers, directional cues are audibly reproduced and the soundstage became expansive for a single enclosure, most defined interior a distance of 3 to 4 toes. Transients are animated, and assault and decay are dealt with with aplomb, it’s staunch extra tightly centered except you’re at a more in-depth proximity.

That mentioned, no longer many americans are spending their days sitting in entrance of their perfect speakers musing on how Zeppelin provides some distance extra imaging than the moderate all-in-one. Fortunately, Zeppelin is equally gratifying for these seeking room-filling, body-rocking sound to energise their abode. Going full-bore with Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls On Parade,” the speaker delivered every intestine punch with authority and clarity and exhibited linearity at any quantity. Right here, I detected ever-so-limited compression when I pushed Zeppelin to the max, however the speaker by no intention distorted, handing over graceful, determined sound even at ranges loud sufficient for my neighbors to cease by and query me what the heck became occurring.

It be no longer related what I listened to, I came across Zeppelin’s tonal steadiness to be graceful and natural, with muscular yet managed bass; a heat, detailed midrange; and crisp highs. And given Zeppelin’s single-speaker assemble, the soundstage remained pretty fixed as I moved across the room.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin on a brown table
From any angle, Zeppelin is a beauty. Sarah Jones

So, who must quiet preserve the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin?

At $800, Zeppelin is a moderately costly wi-fi speaker. Nonetheless it completely’s moreover the very best perfect speaker I’ve heard. It’s ravishing, it’s easy to make use of, and it’s optimized for up-to-the-minute streaming and high-resolution audio. Deciding whether Zeppelin is graceful for you begins with colorful what you must like out of your sound machine. Eventually, any Alexa speaker will set off the lights and checklist groceries. Nonetheless if superior sound and showstopping style are your top priorities, the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin is the community-connected speaker to beat.

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