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Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless review

Richard Easton
2 Nov 2015
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Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless Front
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
499
inc VAT

The Zeppelin Wireless is a streamlined, modern update to an audio classic that manages to improve on the original

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Specifications

Speakers: 5, RMS power output: 150W, Dock connector: None, Networking: Bluetooth (SBC, aptX), 802.11n, Ethernet, Dimensions: 660x183x188mm, Weight: 6.5kg, Streaming formats: AirPlay

If you wandered through an electronics or hi-fi store within the last decade, you've more than likely caught a glimpse of the iconic Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin in one of its two former guises. Even if you weren't aware it was from the British audio brand, its distinctive shape made it instantly memorable. The fact that it delivered refined audio with confidence and distinction meant it proved rather popular.

The Zeppelin series was beginning to show its age, however. The first Zeppelin was a docking station for one of the first iPods, whereas the Zeppelin Air introduced AirPlay for wireless connectivity and brought it slightly more into modern times. Nowadays, AirPlay alone isn't enough for most listeners, especially when multiroom audio and Bluetooth connectivity have become so prominent. The third version of the Zeppelin, now named the Zeppelin Wireless, has been brought bang up to date with all the connection methods you'll likely need to get the music blaring, while also streamlining its design.

That famous shape has made a return, and with the removal of the now largely redundant Apple dock, its lines are far cleaner and less interrupted. It now truly lives up to its name. It's an attractive design and I'd certainly not have any problems having the speaker out on display; it becomes an instant conversation piece. Bowers & Wilkins says that the shape has an engineering reason, beyond just looking unique. The oval-shaped speaker cabinet matches the internal arrangement of the Zeppelin's drivers.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless drivers

In the centre is a large 6.5in subwoofer with an ultra-long voice coil that directs the lower frequencies directly forward. This is flanked by two 3.5in mid-range drivers that use Fixed Suspension Transducers, which Bowers & Wilkins says allow the edge of the speaker cone to terminate without any resonance for improved clarity. Two smaller 1in double dome tweeters are on each end to deliver the high-end. The shape of the cabinet, therefore, matches the size of each driver inside. All five drive units are individually driven, with 4x 25w and 1x 50W of power output. 

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless Back

The rear of the Zeppelin Wireless has also been refined. Previously, as with many of Bowers & Wilkins' other speakers such as its A5 and A7, there was a TunePort bass radiator. This is now no longer required for the lower frequencies, so the back is completely uninterrupted. The Zeppelin Wireless weighs 6.5kg, so has some reassuring weight to it. It has been redesigned to help cut down on vibrations and cabinet reverberation with a front fascia that's also considerably thicker than previous versions. Certainly, with music played at loud volumes, there were no issues with the cabinet negatively influencing the sound. 

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless Rear Controls

On the back is the play/pause button and volume controls. There is an Ethernet port and an auxiliary jack for connecting a wired audio source. Otherwise, your main way to get music to the speaker is through Apple AirPlay, Bluetooth and Spotify Connect. The latter two methods are new introductions, and open up compatibility beyond Apple's ecosystem.

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