Bowers & Wilkins resurrects iconic Zeppelin wireless speaker for the streaming age
With phones and TVs updated at least annually, a six-year wait for a product can feel like a lifetime in the consumer tech world. It has been that long since Bowers & Wilkins launched the excellentZeppelin Wireless, but today – you guessed it – the company is launching a brand-new iteration of the iconic, long-spanning wireless speaker.
The brand-new Zeppelin marks a return to its simplest moniker for its 2021 resurrection, following its 'Zeppelin Air' and 'Zeppelin Wireless' predecessors in 2011 and 2015 respectively. The speaker goes back much further than that, of course, with the2007-released originalflying the flag for the then-popular iPod dock. Unsurprisingly, that feature was ommitted as future generations of Zeppelin embraced newer technologies, and to that end the new Zeppelin has been built firmly for today's streaming age as the “smartest and most flexible Zeppelin” to date.
Exclusively prioritising wireless streaming over wired connectivity (although there is a USB-C socket for updates), the Zeppelin is compatible withAirPlay 2, Spotify Connect andaptX Adaptive Bluetooth(a relatively new codec that offers hi-res support and which B&W supports in its latest headphones), with the Bowers & Wilkins Music App also a gateway to music streaming services such as Tidal, Deezer, Qobuz, Soundcloud and TuneIn. Alexa voice control is built-in for hands-free operation, too.
While AirPlay 2 offers multi-room functionality with other speakers supporting Apple's wireless connection, B&W will, in 2022, also add multi-room support (not inclusive of stereo pairing) for other Zeppelins and products within its Formation range.
Not all of the Zeppelin magic is packed onto chips and in software, of course; B&W has implemented driver technologies from its stereo speakers into the Zeppelin-shaped single chassis. The Zeppelin boasts two Decoupled Double-Dome tweeters (as found in the heralded 600 Anniversary Series) as well as 90mm midrange drivers that benefit from the proprietary Fixed Suspension Transducer (FSTTM) technology used in the company's high-end floorstanders. A 150mm subwoofer has been mounted centrally at the heart of the Zeppelin’s structure and optimised to avoid it detrimentally vibrating the cabinet as it operates. These drivers are fed by 240 watts of amplification in total – not bad at all for any size of wireless speaker.