Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air assessment

What’s that, an alien egg? Nope. Reminiscence foam iPillow? No, foolish, it is a Zeppelin, a Zeppelin Air extra particularly. Bowers & Wilkins introduced us the primary iPod-centric Zeppelin in the midst of the good iPod dock flood of ’07. A number of years later they downsized and introduced us a mini model. The logical extension after the arrival of AirPlay is right here: a Zeppelin that does its thang with out wires. We have been beaming music to it for a number of weeks now — wanna learn how our relationship has been? Click on by way of, captain. %Gallery-122679%

Bowers & Wilkins

Zeppelin Air


  • Large, fulfilling sound
  • Sparkly-clear design
  • Straightforward to make use of


  • Overwhelming bass
  • AirPlay is laggy
  • Expensive


The primary — and truly, perhaps the final — factor about this dude is the way it appears. It is concerning the measurement of a standard over-the-shoulder boombox, thirteen.5 kilos of mesh-coated minimalism designed to look fierce in your espresso desk or bookshelf. There are solely three controls on it, nestled behind the elegant chromed iPod stand: energy, quantity up, and quantity down. A tiny pancaked Zeppelin distant provides you commonplace transport and quantity controls, plus an enter selector, however in such a slippery type issue we will think about it spending extra time misplaced between the cushions than controlling the music. Our check unit received sufficient wolf whistles and loving strokes throughout its keep in our front room than we care to speak about. It sort of hearkens again to that Sharper Picture feeling of 1994: the “I am a grown-up devices man, take a look at my slick gear… in case you dare” mentality undoubtedly looms giant right here.

Pairing your units with the Zeppelin is type of an fascinating trick: throughout setup mode, the unit creates a WiFi community that you simply log into out of your pc. Searching to an inner server software lets you inform the Zeppelin which community it ought to log into sooner or later. Our Zeppelin’s server crashed a few occasions throughout setup, nevertheless it wasn’t an enormous problem to get the sounds slinging. For all y’all AirPlay newbies on the market: you inform iTunes to search for units in your community, choose them as your output, and hit play.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air review

Then the sound comes out! It actually does come out, arduous, from the Zeppelin. You need to watch your degree right here as a result of it can blow your hair again, sort of like that man in that Maxell business: we inadvertently woke our roommates up greater than as soon as due to the dimensions of the block-rockin’ beats that got here out of the Zeppelin. Like a whole lot of these upmarket all-in-one sound techniques, Bowers & Wilkins guarantees “room-filling sound,” and we will not actually argue with them on that one. Two bass ports round again present sufficient oomph to utterly overwhelm any dialog that might in any other case be happening within the room. It isn’t the identical feeling that you simply’d get from a standard separate subwoofer: whereas flooring-based mostly field models usually present in different techniques are likely to rumble from the bottom up, the Zeppelin Air’s bass feels considerably extra directional, extra part of the general combine. It isn’t a nasty factor in any respect, nevertheless it retains the low finish within the air versus coming from the bottom up such as you may be used to feeling.

As with all minimalist system — particularly one with no display — the Zeppelin Air’s largest disadvantage is the shortage of management over its efficiency. Whereas it is going to definitely make for a high-quality fixed companion in any room in the home, it isn’t a tool for audiophiles or professionals. That massive fats bass pumping out of the Zeppelin Air will do its greatest to choke out excessive finish in lots of conditions, particularly for those who’re near the unit. Even after a great deal of EQ adjustment in iTunes, it nonetheless seems like there’s one thing holding again the highs, one thing of a fog holding them from being all they might be. It is definitely not going to spoil your enjoyment of any music — in truth, bass freaks might discover a good match right here — however in case you occur to favor extra treble within the combine, that is in all probability not the system for you.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air review

Once we switched again to conventional audio system or headphones, we instantly felt the distinction. Whereas our normal techniques aren’t lacking any bass efficiency, the combination simply sounds lots clearer as soon as you progress away from the Zeppelin Air. Do not get us flawed: it is a strong contender as an off-the-cuff listening system, and can hold most simplicity-minded music appreciators very comfortable. We simply really feel like putting a lot emphasis on bass, presumably to offer that room-filling sound, is just a little little bit of a shortcut.

The iPod / iPhone dock, the 1/eight” enter, and USB output modes all perform precisely as they need to. We gathered that the iPad may also slot in there, however in fact, it’d look a bit foolish, and do not forget that there is AirPlay at your disposal. There are even a couple of neat tips thrown in, like the power to make use of the speaker as a monster-sized USB sync station, and an RCA out for video coming out of your iDevice.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air review

We do have gripes about AirPlay itself. It isn’t on the spot. There’s a few two-second lag between whenever you press “play” on iTunes and when sound comes out on the opposite finish. The identical factor occurs when scrubbing all through the track: any change in play place requires a small however tremendous-annoying hole in your listening expertise that does not happen with wired audio system. That is, in fact, a element. Nevertheless it seems we spend an terrible lot of time rifling by means of our libraries, scrubbing backward and forward, which we did not discover earlier than we used Airplay units. And, like several wi-fi system, there’s all the time some inconsistency to the standard of the connection. Our Zeppelin Air appeared to love our thirteen” plastic MacBook simply nice, however did not play as properly with different laptops. We’re unsure why, however the Zeppelin Air-Macbook Professional connection was significantly extra affected by sign loss over our 802.11n community. We will not level fingers at Bowers & Wilkins for this, although: we have seen these points in a pair different AirPlay units earlier than.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air review

We definitely cannot advocate it as your main sound system — the identical or extra performance could be had for a lot of fewer dollars — however the Zeppelin Air is a very enjoyable system. As an off-the-cuff auxiliary system, it is onerous to beat — we expect it has much more panache than Bose’s choices in the identical area. It is spectacular to behold, the sound is fascinating, and it really works like a allure as soon as it has been arrange: an ideal anniversary current for mother and pop, or a spectacular poolside or kitchen-based mostly equipment, when you’re the type of one that can spare the $600 B&W is asking for. In case you are, tell us, and we’ll be completely happy to sling our newest mixtape to your Zeppelin at your subsequent pool celebration.

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