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 newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 HP Envy x360 13 (Ryzen): Full, in-depth review
- 2 Dell G5 review: Easy to live with
- 3 D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD DSH-C310 review
- 4 Ring Video Doorbell review
- 5 Sony Bravia 2017 TVs: Full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- The latest Windows patch is breaking even more PCs with antivirus installed
- Acer CEO Jason Chen explains why his PCs are going niche
- Samsung's Galaxy Fold appears more fragile than expected
- Microsoft launches its Surface Hub 2S collaborative PC for $9,000
- Nvidia's next Game Ready driver will add 7 new G-Sync Compatible displays
PCW Evaluation Team
As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.
The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.
This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
- Huawei P30 Pro: Australian review
- Samsung Galaxy S10 review: Messy decisions mar smart evolutions
- Panasonic Lumix S1 review: Hands-On Australian review
- 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