There are few companies who evoke experience and know-how in speaker design as Bowers & Wilkins do. The company has over 40 years of history creating some of the best sound experiences for consumers and audiophiles alike. I had the opportunity to review their Zeppelin Speaker for the iPod. It’s been getting rave reviews from customers and won a Gold 2008 IDEA award. Kudos to Native Design. Must be good right?
Let me preface by saying I’m not audiophile. Give me good bass, clear sound with easy controls and I’m a happy camper. Now on to the review. The Zeppelin’s elongated football shape looks like an aesthetic feature but it actually helps disperse sound waves over a wider area filling up the whole room. There are only two controls on the unit, a power button and volume. Everything else is done via a small pucky remote.
Pictures don’t do its size justice. It’s big, over 25 inches long and weighing at least 15 pounds. Color me surprised when I realized the iPod dock wasn’t a handle. The way it was packaged, it was totally beckoning my hand to grab it and pull it out of the box. Only then did I noticed the instructions clearly cautioning such foolishness. Thankfully the entire unit is very well constructed so nothing broke. Just an FYI if you decide to purchase one. Turn the box over and let gravity do the work for you.
It works with every iPod, iTouch and even the iPhone with a few caveats. Just seat your device onto the dock and the unit automatically turns on. It’ll also charge your device so that’s a win in my book. Navigating via remote was a cinch. Play/pause, next/previous, volume controls, main menu and power all arranged in a cross layout. Navigating an iPhone however was difficult. You could only move thru a current playlist since the iPhone’s iPod function is organized slightly different. This is of no fault of the Zeppelin since it was designed specifically for iPod and iTouch devices.
What you really care about is sound. I was super delighted. My only other big iPod speaker investment was the ill-fated Apple Hi-Fi. It’s comparable in size and I thought it sounded fantastic but the Zeppelin is leagues ahead. The sound was so crisp and life-like. I kept pumping up the volume to see if I could hear distortion – only at the upper limits which is fine since nobody in their right mind listens to music that loud. There aren’t any treble or bass controls but I supposed using the iPod’s built in equalizer is adequate.
The rear of the unit is almost entirely chromed out with the logo beautifully engraved flanked by two large port holes. Just above the rubberized foot stand are a bevy of ports, perfect for extending the unit’s capabilities to a TV, computer, or a non iPod MP3 player. Let me just say this. The Zeppelin, plus LCD TV, plus the Playstation 3 = HEAVEN.
At $600, the Zeppelin is priced at the very upper eschalon for iPod speakers. Really the only competition in that price range are from Bose and none of their units look as sleek or sexy. I would argue you could buy a really nice multiple speaker entertainment system and get an AUX cable to interface with the iPod for less than $600 but that takes space. If you’re looking for an all inclusive unit, pick up the Zeppelin. You won’t be disappointed.
- Midrange and tweeter derived from Bowers & Wilkins’ award-winning and class-leading M-1 speaker
- Internal subwoofer driver centrally and deeply located for bass that has power and authority
- Three high-quality amplifiers: one for left, one for right, and one for bass
- Docking port arm that lets you grasp your iPod as if it were in your hand
- Spring-loaded docking port flexes to accommodate each iPod model, eliminating the need for adapters
- Standard AUX port for connecting earlier iPod models, CD players, computers, and more
- Technical features: Digital Signal Processing; digital amplifier; switch mode power supply
- Drive units: One 5 in./125 mm bass; two 3.5 in./90 mm midrange; two 1 in./25 mm metal dome tweeters
- Frequency range: -6dB at 47Hz and 22kHz
- Amplifier power output: One 50 W (bass); two 25 W midrange/tweeter
- Power input voltage: 100V-240V @ 50/60Hz
- Power consumption: 20 W rated; 3.7 W standby
- Inputs: 30-pin iPod dock connector; 3.5 mm mini-jack analog/optical digital (TOSlink); USB 2.0 slave (for software upgrades)
- Outputs: S-video (mini DIN) composite video (RCA phono)
- Enclosure: Polished stainless steel with black trim; grilles of black cloth
- Dimensions (HxWxD): 6.8 x 25.2 x 8.2 in./17.3 x 64.0 x 20.8 cm
- Weight: 16.5 lb./7.5 kg
In the box
- Zeppelin speaker
- Tilt pad (to angle the Zeppelin unit)
- Power cord