Published on September 26th, 2009 | by Greg0
This Zeppelin Deserves To Crash Your Parties
Yesterday we talked about some ways to improve your personal sound experience, and today we’re going to look at a way to make sound better for everyone in the room. Have you ever been to a party where there are a few really beautiful, hip people, and they seem to raise the cool factor for everyone there? The Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin is to iPod docks what the hip people are to that kind of party. The level of cool and sexy multiplies several fold.
For anyone not familiar with Bowers and Wilkins, they are makers of some of the best hi-fi and home theater sound equipment in the world. Even though the Zeppelin is a single piece of equipment, plus the remote, don’t be fooled. This is a five speaker system, and sounds every bit like one. It has two 1-inch aluminum tweeters, two 3.5-inch fiber cone mid-range drivers, and one 5-inch bass driver, all encased in a single uniquely designed shell. The oblong shape isn’t by accident- the size of a speaker housing affects sound dispersion, so the shell follows the shape and size of the mid-range drivers and the tweeters, creating optimal sound for a large room while taking up very little space. The Zeppelin is designed to use any iPod or iPhone you have, including the older iPods that don’t have a click wheel. There are an array of inputs on the back of the unit that also allow various other media players (such as CD players, computers, or non-Apple products) to be utilized (see below).
The Zeppelin can be used as a stand-alone system, or integrated into a whole house system. It can be used with a media player plugged directly into it, or can be streamed to over a wireless network as well. We didn’t love the remote- they call it “pebble-like” which we translate as “reasonably easy to lose”, but it got the job done nicely. We should also note that the system is neither small nor light- it isn’t portable, and takes up a fair bit of space, though it is mountable. The docking part is quite well designed, and the best on any iPod or iPhone dock that we’ve used or tried, as it doesn’t allows you to engage with your device easily instead of recessing it where it is hard to reach or control.
So how did it sound? Our ONLY complaint is that it is unable to achieve the volume that a full home-theater system does, but honestly, that’s to be expected. The mere fact that we can discuss the two products in the same breath should speak volumes for the Zeppelin. We failed to find any sound that didn’t come through beautifully, from spoken word through rock and ska, to old jazz recordings and of course classical. Our setup tests revealed that the most optimal placement seemed to be when the unit was nearer a wall than when it was in the center of a large room, but even with nothing around it the sound wasn’t bad.
The Zeppelin retails for $599 through B&W’s website, and is available in many Apple stores and home theater retailers, as well as Amazon. That’s certainly a pretty high price, but considering the premium components and capabilities and wow-factor design, it’s just a bit more than we’d favor paying. Keep an eye out also, as Bowers and Wilkins have a new Zeppelin Mini that is expected to be released in October of 2009.