“This amaz­ing speaker com­bines iconic de­sign with su­perb sound qual­ity”

Soaring sound or burn­ing blimp?

Mac Format - - FITNESS TECH - Zep­pelin Wire­less

Back when iPod docks were of­ten a cheap charg­ing sta­tion with the same acous­tic power as drop­ping your phone into a plas­tic cup, the orig­i­nal Zep­pelin ar­rived. The air­ship-shaped speaker has evolved over the last eight years, and this new model is more fo­cussed than ever on wire­less stream­ing and au­dio qual­ity.

It’s built from the same stu­dio­qual­ity DNA as B&W’s flag­ship 800 Se­ries speak­ers, even us­ing the same Fixed Sus­pen­sion Trans­ducer (FST) tech in its mid-range driv­ers. The idea is to make the unit invisible from an acous­tic stand­point by hold­ing the speaker cones in sus­pen­sion for more con­trolled sound, en­sur­ing the chas­sis doesn’t colour the sound of the driver units.

At the edges of the shell, ei­ther side of the twin 90mm mid-range driv­ers, is a pair of 25mm tweet­ers. The iconic el­lip­ti­cal shape comes into play here, giv­ing the dou­ble­dome tweet­ers lim­ited airspace and al­low­ing them to cre­ate beau­ti­fully clear tre­ble. B&W thought its ear­lier mod­els a lit­tle bass-heavy, thanks partly to twin flow ports on the rear, so th­ese have been re­moved. This means the speaker op­er­ates as an al­most com­pletely sealed unit, with only a few, smaller mi­cro ports be­neath the grille at the front.

This doesn’t mean weak bass re­sponse, though. There’s a huge amount of punch and power, and the bass is finely con­trolled, ter­mi­nat­ing con­cisely with­out be­ing left to wob­ble out. It doesn’t im­pact on au­ral clar­ity of the mid-range. Vo­cals are crisp and clear, yet nat­u­ral. You can really hear a singer’s breaths or the shift­ing fin­gers of a guitarist’s hands across the strings and fret­board. It also creates an im­pres­sively wide sound stage.

That great au­dio is open to loads of de­vices, thanks to Blue­tooth (in­clud­ing the high-qual­ity aptX codec, which Macs sup­port) and Spo­tify Con­nect, as well as Air­Play. There’s a 3.5mm ana­logue in­put, but dig­i­tal op­ti­cal in­put is omit­ted. B&W has made an ef­fort to en­sure sound is good at low vol­umes by us­ing a new dig­i­tal sig­nal pro­ces­sor, and the dy­namic EQ mon­i­tors the sig­nal to en­sure that pow­er­ful bass stays con­trolled at all vol­umes.

The Zep­pelin Wire­less is a great piece of de­sign too – solid and re­as­sur­ingly weighty. Ad­mit­tedly it’s very ex­pen­sive, but give it just a few sec­onds with your favourite songs and you’ll im­me­di­ately know why. Dave James

The Zep­pelin Wire­less re­tains the iconic shape of older mod­els, but there are big changes on the in­side – and to what comes out of it.

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