With its unique shape and powerful sound, the Zeppelin Air from Bowers & Wilkins quickly became a best-selling iPod dock. Nearly eight years later, Bowers has retooled their popular Zeppelin speaker to be more in line with the connected home of 2015. The Zeppelin Wireless packs in not only AirPlay, like before, but Bluetooth and even Spotify Connect.
Bowers & Wilkins has stayed true to the original iconic design of the Zeppelin, but they’ve ditched the now old school dock from its face. Instead, you’ll need to use the Bowers & Wilkins app to connect your phone to the speaker over Wi-Fi. Pairing the Zeppelin to our iPhone via Bluetooth was easy, but getting the Zeppelin Wireless to initially connect to our local Wi-Fi network took a few tries. Once we finally got it, it was smooth sailing from there.
Without the dock, the front of the speaker is extremely minimalist in design. As for dedicated controls, there is a set of dedicated Play / Pause and Previous / Next buttons on the back of the device. This helps keep up its minimalist appearance and is acceptable because most people will be using their phone or tablet to control the speaker anyway. Finally, on the front next to the Bowers logo, there’s a touch-sensitive Bluetooth pairing button.
But most importantly, how does it sound? Bowers & Wilkins told us that they’ve taken technology and elements from their $8k+ speakers and brought them into the new Zeppelin, and we believe it — the Zeppelin sounds marvelous. Audio is powerful, crisp, warm, and balanced, regardless of whether you’re using AirPlay, Spotify Connect, or Bluetooth. You’ll feel like you’re sitting at a concert. Vocals especially shine through on the Zeppelin. But, what is especially impressive is that all genres we have tested sound amazing on the Zeppelin. Whether it’s rock, pop, jazz, or classical music, all of your tracks end up sounding perfectly tuned. For those who really love powerful bass, the Zeppelin Wireless performs well, but we find the bass to be not too overwhelming — perfect for our tastes. For those who care about the tech specs, the Zeppelin supplies 150 watts of power to two 1″ double dome tweeters, two 3.5″ fixed suspension transducer midrange drivers, and one 6.5″ subwoofer.
The original Zeppelin is an iconic speaker and the latest version is sure to follow in its footsteps. The new Zeppelin not only looks great, but sounds absolutely brilliant. This is one of the best wireless speaker experiences you can find for under a grand. The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless is available now for $699.
The Good: Superb balanced but powerful audio experience, support for AirPlay, Spotify Connect and Bluetooth, iconic design continues to be an eye-catcher
The Bad: It took us several tries to get Wi-Fi properly set up for AirPlay and Spotify Connect