Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless review: Quality audio made easy
The Zeppelin is back and it is better in every single way
- Supports open standard wireless technologies
- Refined design and excellent construction
- Five speakers producing 150 watts
- Android Bowers & Wilkins Control app not yet available
Price$ 999.00 (AUD)
"There is no exquisite beauty without some strangeness in the proportion." The line, taken from an Edgar Allan Poe short story, speaks volumes of Bowers & Wilkins’ latest speaker, the Zeppelin Wireless.
Most of its peculiarity stems from its elliptical shape. It was inherited from the Zeppelin Air, which garnered critical praise for its design and performance when it went on sale eight years ago.
The latest speaker keeps the original’s shape, although every other part of it is new. It has a new chassis, new drivers and even a new name — and of the three, the later might be of the most significance.
The original Zeppelin worked best with Apple devices. It started life with a 30 point pin dock for older iPhones and then received an update to the iPhone 5’s lightning connector. Music could be streamed wirelessly, but only over Apple’s AirPlay. People belonging to another ecosystem had to play music tethered by an auxiliary cable.
Times have since changed. Android is the dominant smartphone platform with it owning 82 per cent of the global smartphone market. Bowers & Wilkins has maintained pace by investing in additional wireless technologies. The succeeding Zeppelin Wireless supports Apple AirPlay, Spotify Connect and Bluetooth.
Playing high fidelity music over Bluetooth is tricky. The standard naturally compresses a file — ultimately discounting the quality of music — so that it can be transferred wirelessly. Bowers & Wilkins puts to work the aptX codec in an effort to overcome this shortcoming; a codec said to deliver CD-like audio.
Pairing the Zeppelin Wireless with a smartphone or tablet is easy. The speaker has been designed to be simple, adorning only a few buttons and hiding many of them. A nameplate at on its front conceals a capacitive Bluetooth toggle that triggers the pairing mode when it is held down.
How convenient it is to come home, whisk a phone out of a pocket and have music waft through the halls due to the Zeppelin Wireless’ implementation of Bluetooth. If you’re sitting on the couch, there’s no need to get up to turn the system on. Previously paired devices can do that simply by reconnecting.
Only four other buttons can be found on this speaker. High on its back are volume keys and a play/pause button, while below is a power button and various connections, such as an Ethernet port and a 3.5mm input.
The speaker is deceptively heavy at 6.5 kilograms. An extra kilogram has been added by way of doubling the thickness of its facia and improving the rigidity of the cabinet’s ribs. These touches prevent the Zeppelin Wireless from shaking and skidding about, in spite of it having more powerful drivers.
Beneath the grille of the Zeppelin Wireless are five speakers in total, including two 1-inch tweeters, two 3.5-inch drivers and a 6-inch sub woofer. Together these speakers produce 150-watts of power.
Music is played with balance, clarity and volume. A transparent approach is adopted by not favouring any one frequency. Playback is faithful to an artist/composers intentions.
People playing music back over Apple’s AirPlay will reap the rewards of a higher quality stream, though the speaker plays tracks over Bluetooth well. A slight hum is present during a quiet dip in a track when the volume is set to max, such as when listening to Infra 5 by Max Richter, but it quickly fades beneath crystalline classical notes.
The Zeppelin Wireless occupies an unusual space in the market; it has five speakers packed in a single body. The result is higher-than-normal volume levels being fired from one direction. In many ways, it brings to mind a stereo speaker set up benefitting from the addition of a 6-inch sub. There’s even some alternate left- and right-speaker play in tracks like 112’s Peaches & Cream.
Playing the R&B track at 90 per cent to max is characterised by wonderfully rich, rubbery and textured bass. A low centre of gravity keeps the system steady, barely flinching under the volume, as not to perverse the audio track. Bowers & Wilkins has succeeded in making a system that’ll leave you lost in the playback of music.
The soundstage is spacious more often than not. Man on the Run by Dash Berlin (remixed by Nic Chagall) highlighted the system’s versatility as it switched from quiet vocals to ramping trance notes with ease. There was no sign of distortion — even when the volume toggle nudged maximum. Audio playback was loud enough to fill our mid-sized test centre, and then have fellow workers scattered across our 1200 square metre offices knock on the door, some asking to let them in to listen, others pleading for us to turn it down.
Anyone buying the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless will relish both its simplicity and its skillful playback of music. Better sound can be milked from more sophisticated systems, though they bring wires and inconvenience into the picture. The Zeppelin Wireless strikes a fine balance between the two, wrapping the duo in one of the most charismatic bodies, what guarantees it a special spot among the most beloved pieces in a home.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Acer Swift 7
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Lexar® Portable SSD
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Google Daydream VR headset
Huawei Mate 9
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Surface Pro 4
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- Up next for Apple TV: 4K streaming reportedly in the works
- Apple’s original TV shows are almost ready for prime time
- Apple snags Amazon Fire TV exec to lead Apple TV efforts
- AirTV's slick marriage of Sling TV and OTA channels isn't in the product yet
- Here's what's coming next from Sling TV
PCW Evaluation Team
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
- Horizon Zero Dawn review
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Japan's pop culture, anime-friendly, J-Pop shrine, Kanda Myojin
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTPrincipal Architect - Infrastructure | Major BankVIC
- CCSenior .NET DeveloperNSW
- CCSenior System AdministratorVIC
- FTSenior Technical Consultant - SQLACT
- CCSenior Technical SpecialistNSW
- FTSolution Architect l MS Exchange, O365NSW
- FTClient Delivery ManagerSA
- FTSenior Dot Net Backend Orientated DeveloperNSW
- TPMaster SchedulerNSW
- FTMicrosoft Dynamics AX Technical ArchitectWA
- FTSenior Learning Specialist - Global OrganisationQLD
- FTData Conversion LeadNSW
- FTBI Developer l Microstrategy , HadoopNSW
- TPDigital Process Business Analyst - Digital Transformation**NSW
- CCWPF .NET EngineerNSW
- CCBusiness Project ManagerNSW
- FTStorage Solution ArchitectVIC
- TPSenior Java Developer - ContractQLD
- FTSenior Java DeveloperNSW
- FTInfrastructure Security Compliance OfficerNSW
- TPProduct Owner - Cloud SolutionsQLD
- CCGIS Developer - GeocortexWA
- CCUnix AdministratorNSW
- FTProject Manager (Software product development)VIC
- TPTechnical Report EditorQLD