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Zeppelin Bluetooth Speaker Review

2021 marks fifteen years since the debut of the original Zeppelin speaker, which was essentially a giant iPod dock, but boy did it sound good. Bowers & Wilkins has released a number of new Zeppelins since then, retaining the iconic design while dropping the dock and adding support for wireless audio.

Sound quality remains exemplary, and we like the addition of a companion app that lets you make EQ tweaks to bass and treble levels.

It certainly requires a big budget, but the 2021 Zeppelin remains the best-looking and best-sounding all-in-one wireless speaker we’ve tested, earning it our Editors’ Choice award. Measuring 8.3 by 25.6 by 7.6 inches (HWD) and weighing in at a substantial 14.3 pounds, the Zeppelin is aptly named—both its rounded contour and overall size evoke the cylindrical airships of yesteryear. A smooth plastic material covers the back, and a control strip sits just below the top ridge of the speaker (and out of sight when viewing it from the front). Recessed into the back of the built-in stand, there’s a panel with a USB-C port for service, the connection for the included power supply cable, and a reset button. At top volume levels, expect the digital signal processing (DSP) to kick in and dial back the low frequencies and peaks to a degree.

On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop receives enough high-mid presence for its attack to retain its punchiness.

The lower-register instrumentation has body, depth, and life—it doesn’t sound overly boosted and leaves plenty of room for the higher-register brass, strings, and vocals to shine brightly at the forefront of the mix.

The addition of Amazon Alexa makes this the most impressive smart speaker we’ve tested, and multiple connectivity options allow for high-fidelity streaming no matter what service or playback method you use. If you’re looking for a purer sound, consider a 2.1 soundbar system or some bookshelf speakers with less noticeable DSP, like the similarly priced Sonos Arc or The Fives from Klipsch.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin (2021) 4.0 Editors’ Choice See It $774.00 at Amazon MSRP $799.00 Pros Powerful audio performance with rich bass and detailed highs Digital signal processing isn’t for purists The Bottom Line The 2021 model of the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin speaker delivers wonderful, high-fidelity wireless audio from a strikingly designed enclosure, with built-in support for Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin (2021) review: An icon reborn

Originally an iPod dock set into a massive, oval speaker system, it became an iconic product for Apple device fans. Like its forebears, it is a premium one-box stereo speaker solution and has a price to match, but considering the audio landscape is now so saturated with cheaper, mass-market alternatives, does it offer enough to make a significant splash?

Everything is controlled through the dedicated Music by Bowers & Wilkins app, a direct Bluetooth/AirPlay 2 connection, or voice using Amazon’s Alexa assistant which is built in. Sometime in 2022, this Zeppelin will also gain compatibility with Bowers & Wilkins Formation speakers for multiroom playback, but it’s a standalone product at the time of writing.

They control the high frequencies, while a pair of 3.5-inch drivers with the company’s proprietary fixed suspension transducer (FST) tech handle the midrange. While many speakers and soundbars claim ‘sub’, the Zeppelin isn’t kidding: its 35Hz minimum frequency output is firmly in that arena.

We were told this is mainly on the aptX HD side, so can receive and playback tracks streamed in up to 24-bit/48kHz (albeit a little “lossy” as that generation of the codec isn’t perfect). Qualcomm’s latest format, aptX Lossless, is not supported – but compatible products for that are not expected to start to hit the market until later in 2022.

You have to set it up in B&W’s app, but once connected to your Amazon account it can do anything an Echo could – including playing music from different streaming services, even giving you weather reports and news updates. Bowers & Wilkins Music app (iOS and Android) Services: Tidal, Qobuz, Deezer, TuneIn,, Soundcloud The main method of control is through the aforementioned Music by Bowers & Wilkins app for Apple iOS and Google Android. Qobuz, Tidal, Deezer and TuneIn are among those available and, when linked, they populate the app with all the playlists, albums and searchable tracks you could hope for.

At present, Hi-Res Audio is only available via Qobuz this way (it doesn’t currently support Tidal’s MQA tracks, for example), but you can always use other direct streaming methods too. A wired connection would have been nice for a truly lossless hook-up, but the supreme quality of the audio output on even the most lossy tracks means you are unlikely to hear fractional improvements – or, at least, care. Importantly, Bowers & Wilkins makes it as easy as possible to feed the Zeppelin with your music, radio stations, podcasts and any other (wireless) audio you want to listen to. Sitting atop an AV stand, we experienced throaty bass that resonated through our chests – a proper whoomp of low frequencies that put significant meat on the bones of The Beatles’ Come Together.

This is greatly evidenced in Started Out With Nothin, by Seasick Steve, with the ability to pick out every recording foible and the unique sounds of his strumming style and homespun percussion. Yes, there are a couple of very minor quibbles, such as the lack of a wired source connection, but it’s easy to overlook them when namesake Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir is thoroughly enveloping you.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin review

B&W’s new Zeppelin is talented sonically, but notable holes in the feature set and overall usability issues leave it just a shade below excellent In a world where upgrading to a newer smartphone every 12 months is de rigueur for the self-respecting and tech-savvy consumer, a six-year wait for a product can feel like a lifetime.

The brand-new (and suffix-free) Zeppelin marks a return to the speaker’s simplest and most effective moniker for its hotly anticipated 2021 rebirth, because these days, B&W is exclusively prioritising wireless streaming over physical connectivity. To look at it face on, you’d think the Zeppelin was rugby-ball shaped or even true Zeppelin-shaped, but it’s actually more of a wedge, where the top of the plastic casework slopes down to meet the horizontal (if slightly curved) base, which sits on a strong metal pedestal stand.

The dimmable ambient light that shines down from our darker midnight grey sample’s base to its pedestal creates the illusion that the speaker is levitating – yes, like an actual Zeppelin airship. Its speaker configuration comprises two 25mm Decoupled Double-Dome aluminium tweeters (as found in the heralded 600 Anniversary Series) as well as two 90mm midrange drivers that benefit from the proprietary Fixed Suspension Transducer (FST) technology used in the company’s high-end floorstanders.

A 150mm woofer has been mounted centrally at the heart of the Zeppelin’s structure and optimised to stop it from detrimentally vibrating the cabinet as it operates. These drivers are fed by 240W of amplification in total – not bad for any size of wireless speaker, although not quite as powerful as the Award-winning Naim Mu-So Qb 2nd Generation, which packs 300W.

Press it for five seconds and an LED strip underneath the Bowers & Wilkins branding on the front of the Zeppelin glows red, to mute mic-pickup.

These buttons work well but they are a little difficult to locate if the speaker is at waist height or above, meaning we often find ourselves tipping the whole thing on to the precarious edge of the stand to see them properly. One neat addition offered during the setup process is the chance to link our Deezer, Qobuz and Tidal memberships to B&W’s Music App. As things currently stand, the Zeppelin promises much but has yet to deliver the fully-fledged, multi-source hi-res streaming and wireless compatibility feature-set that rivals can at this premium end of the market.

This track features decelerating time signatures interspersed with driving beats from various instruments and vocals, and here the Qb Gen 2 delivers the sonic elements more convincingly as a cohesive whole. The extroverted original was one of the stand-out wireless speakers of the noughties, and the newest Zeppelin still offers the kind of expansive sound that we can appreciate, with a zealous bass injection that stays grippy even at high volumes.

In the crowded arena of today, the Zeppelin is currently missing a few key features, including Chromecast, MQA support, DLNA and UPnP that might allow us to fully recommend it.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin (2021) review

Ignore its claim to ‘true’ stereo sound and the latest Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin is the best yet, offering a balanced, detailed sound, an array of wireless streaming options, and a decent control app. While it isn’t a substitute for an actual pair of stereo speakers, the Zeppelin serves up a wide, well-defined and endlessly engaging sound, no matter the genre of music. When the original Zeppelin launched 15 years ago as an iPod speaker dock it was, not surprisingly, Zeppelin-shaped. Each new version that followed added functionality (or deleted it, in the case of the iPod dock itself), but retained what rapidly became an iconic silhouette.

At 210 x 650 x 194mm (h x w x d) and 6.5kg, it’s a fairly big and imposing device; but thanks to its central metal pedestal, it doesn’t actually need all that wide a space to stand on. There’s a degree of EQ adjustment available here, too (not much, mind – because you couldn’t possibly know better than Bowers & Wilkins where this sort of thing is concerned). No matter the way you go about controlling the Zeppelin, nor the methodology you use to get digital audio files on board, music is delivered by a five-strong speaker driver array designed to deliver true stereo sound from the single box. There’s a 25mm double-dome tweeter (as seen in Bowers & Wilkins’ award-winning 600-series loudspeakers) at either end of the cabinet, while dead-centre sits a 150mm subwoofer for low-end presence. Either side of that you’ll find a 90mm mid-range driver, using the same Fixed Suspension Transducer technology deployed by the company’s flagship – and super-expensive – 800-series speakers. At the moment, the only hi-res tier accessible through the Music app is that of Qobuz, but Apple AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth 5.0 are both capable of dealing with hi-res audio from your preferred streaming service while Bowers & Wilkins sorts things out. Right now it’s a stand-alone device, but soon it will be possible to create a multi-room system using multiple Zeppelins, as well as Bowers & Wilkins’ Formation range of wireless speakers. First thing’s first – and we’re starting here because there’s really very little to criticize about the way this speaker performs – the Zeppelin isn’t as stereo as it believes itself to be.

There’s no denying the separation of its sound, nor the definition of its soundstage, and when wide stereo effects or pans are deployed in a recording, the Bowers & Wilkins gives a fine indication of ‘left’ or ‘right’. The journey from the (deep, textured and information-heavy) bottom of the frequency range to the (bright, attacking and just as detailed) top-end is smooth and even, with no area understated or overplayed. Streaming a hi-res file of On by Kelly Lee Owens via Qobuz lets the Bowers & Wilkins show off its fearsome powers of communication.

No transient detail is too fine to elude it, and no subtlety of technique is too fleeting to escape attention.

Vocalists exist in a comfortable area of autonomy in the Zeppelin’s presentation, even as they’re integrated seamlessly into the recording as a whole. The same recording allows the Zeppelin to show off its dynamic prowess, both in giving the spaces in the song their due, and in putting authentic distance between the quietest and loudest moments.

And it manages to adopt this attitude without sacrificing any of its powers of engagement, and without sounding at all detached or dispassionate.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Review (2021): The Comeback King

They seem about as quaint a concept as airships themselves these days, but 15 years ago they were at the cutting edge), eyebrows were raised at the product’s name regardless of its undeniable similarity of shape. But thanks to both its class-leading levels of performance and its disinclination to cause any fatalities, the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin rapidly transcended its risky model name and was instead widely acknowledged as the best iPod dock around.

Bowers & Wilkins is promising authentic stereo sound from this single enclosure, and to this end the Zeppelin features five carefully positioned speaker drivers.

These use Bowers & Wilkins’ proprietary Fixed Suspension Transducer technology that we most recently encountered in a pair of the company’s $40,000 800 Series floor-standing behemoths.

It’s a clean, good-looking and reasonably responsive control app by the standards of any company that isn’t Sonos, and it’s here you get access to a stack of streaming services including (but not limited to) Deezer, Qobuz, Tidal, TuneIn, and SoundCloud.

Review: Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless

For a while, whenever a friend or coworker asked about a nice wireless sound system for the home, I would recommend the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air. This opens it up as a viable high-end product for not only Android, Windows Phone, and non-Mac users, but also those of any OS affiliation unsatisfied by AirPlay’s flakiness. The company sent one to WIRED last week, and I’ve been sneaking into the test room daily for high-volume listening sessions that I’m sure last far longer than my co-workers would like. That’s what you want in a speaker of this size, since it’s the kind of thing that can supplant a traditional stereo system and easily serve as your apartment’s sole audio source. But it’s where many manufacturers pinch pennies, delivering a speaker that sounds fine at conversational volume but crap out when you crank it up. The B&W team always has taken great care to dial in its DSP engine to deliver natural-sounding audio, and its barely noticeable in the Zeppelin.

And even though seven Benjamins is not outrageous for a high-end audio product (especially one with British pedigree that looks like a invading spaceship), it’s too much to ask of mainstream consumers. Because your time is more valuable than that of the plebeians, Bowers & Wilkins has made the setup routine fast and simple.

An app called Control runs on iOS, Android, Mac OS X, and Windows, and facilitates getting the Zep onto your Wi-Fi network.

If you want something portable, the Big Jambox, UE Boom, or any of their numerous competitors are still your best bets for a sound system to use at beach, in the kitchen, or in hotel rooms.

If you want a powerful wireless speaker that offers high fidelity sound and an attractive, totally unique design, your choices are far slimmer.

Customer Reviews: Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless Speaker Black ZEPPELIN WIRELESS

The Wireless certainly has improved functionality over the Air in terms of introducing Bluetooth and Spotify Connect, but I continue to use Airplay for the most part.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin wireless speaker review: As iconic as ever

Its outward appearance—apart from losing that dock—hasn’t changed much in that time, but it has gained at least one important new feature: Alexa is now onboard, rendering the latest Zeppelin a true smart speaker. The new Zeppelin inherits some of the proprietary wireless tech from B&W’s higher-end Formation suite, but it still supports Apple’s AirPlay 2.

Even after the firmware update, however, you won’t be able to operate two Zeppelins as a stereo pair; there is no in-room radio onboard to support such a scenario.

Bowers & Wilkins The wide spacing of the Zeppelin’s drivers enable it to deliver fabulous stereo performances. A pair of 3.5-inch mid-range drivers featuring B&W’s Fixed Suspension Transducer (FST) technology have been brought over the company’s flagship 800 Series Diamond speakers. The back of the speaker has only a socket for its power cord, a USB-C port for firmware updates, and a factory-reset button (both of those last tasks can be accomplished with the app as well). Michael Brown / IDG Bowers & Wilkins could learn a thing or two from Sonos about music apps; then again, so could just about every manufacturer. I started my listening tests with Dire Straits’ “Lover Over Gold,” from the band’s best-of album, Private Investigations, streamed from Tidal HiFi. Welch and Rawlings play all the instruments and perform all the vocals on this album, giving the work a spare, simple sound that leaves the artists with nowhere to hide. Things took a turn for the worse when I played Tower of Power’s “Squib Cakes,” this time from a 1997 remaster (“Direct Plus!”) of the band’s fantastic fourth album, 1974’s Back to Oakland. The problem disappeared when I played the original studio recording: There may be no better horn section than Tower of Power’s, before or since, and the Zeppelin delivered it in all its glory. As for its performance as a smart speaker, the Zeppelin never had a problem hearing the Alexa wake word, even when I had the tunes cranked to full volume.

But I did end up muting the Zeppelin’s microphone array because I was using the speaker within a few feet of an Echo Show 10, and the two devices would fight over which would answer my commands. It’s also worth mentioning that Alexa won’t respond to spoken requests for specific songs or artists—at least not until Amazon Music support is added.

Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless Speaker Review

I first heard the Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless while doing a video review of a group of Bluetooth speakers. The Zeppelin Wireless is an odd elongated football-shaped speaker with a small centered base.

The enclosure has two 25mm double dome tweeters, their own internal 800 series Diamond 90mm mid range drivers and a 150mm long throw subwoofer.

B&W highlights their new digital signal processor (DSP) and digital-to-analog converter (DAC), which they claim upsamples all audio to 24-bit and 192kHz sampling.

So in order to test all of its functions, I used both an iPhone, a Mac, a Nexus tablet, and direct streaming from the audio output (headphone jack) from my TV monitor. Setup was quick and flawless with the downloaded Bowers & Wilkins Controller iOS app.

I didn’t have to type in any Wi-Fi passwords or wait for any talk back, the speaker was set up and appearing as a playable device in under one minute from the time it was powered up. I was able to listen to YouTube videos, SoundCloud albums, Pandora playlists, and even as an external speaker to tablet games I played with my children. The device was very flexible and the internal Bluetooth antenna was excellent, rendering sound without breaking up from almost any room in my home. With the new Apple Music and the awesome library of Spotify the Zeppelin Wireless is an excellent all-in-one, room-filling speaker.

Once established, a music stream goes directly to the Zeppelin Wireless and your phone now acts like a remote control for the speaker. Further, I also used my TV monitor’s headphone jack as an auxiliary input into the Zeppelin Wireless in order to use it as an external speaker for my television and to hear music from my AppleTV, cable network radio, and Roku.

The Zeppelin Wireless’s sound is exceptional providing surprisingly deep bass response with very accurate and bright mids and highs. Set on a table with some distance away from the nearest wall, the B&W plays the best, filling the room with sound and providing enough stereo separation to be believable. B&W claims that proper room placement and their own DSP help reestablish the soundstage even with the limited separation of the speakers. I was however, pleasantly surprised at how well the Zeppelin continued to provide a rich even sound as the bass tracks rolled off at the bottom end.

With the 35mm input or with the ability to receive multiple streams, the Zeppelin became an almost seamless replacement for the built in speaker on my television. The sound was phenomenal with a clearly separated audio experience as long as the Zeppelin Wireless was placed correctly.

Next switching from Bluetooth to airplay was actually easy and usually seamless, but there were disturbing and abrupt changes in volume that I still feel a dedicated DSP should be able to smooth out. Once I realized that you had to push the play button the top to select the auxiliary input, I was able to switch easily.

Further complicating this was the monitors’ own volume output was often at odds with the Zeppelin, requiring both to be adjusted to find a pleasing range. The Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless doesn’t come cheap at an MSRP of $599 but the tech it packs is a cut above most of the competition.

The Zeppelin is definitely eye catching, better yet, its flexibility and simple setup belies a deep rich listening experience.

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