B&W Zeppelin Wireless
FOR Spread of sound; precise soundstage; expressive mids; seamless control and design AGAINST No Android app; midrange could use more authority; rivals are better equipped
B&W has cemented its commitment to the wireless speaker market in the past few years with the five-star premium A5 and A7 Airplay models and portable T7, but the brand’s Zeppelin line is perhaps its biggest success story in the field.
In a round-up filled with speakers of differing shapes and sizes, the unique, airship look doesn’t seem quite so offbeat now, but this wireless version does enough to stand out while still looking elegant and stylish.
Behind the elliptical front panel are five drivers: two 25mm Double Dome tweeters, as found in the company’s CM Series speakers, and a pair of midrange drivers which use a foam surround instead of rubber to improve damping. Taking centre stage on the baffle is a single 15cm woofer. Each driver is powered by a Class-d amplifier.
Although the front-facing Apple dock is a thing of the past, direct connection to a smartphone or tablet can still be made via the 3.5mm input but, living up to its name, the Zeppelin’s focus is very much on wireless connectivity. Airplay, aptx Bluetooth or Spotify Connect are the modes on offer. Set-up is facilitated by the updated Bowers & Wilkins control app, which works a treat. You can download it on a Mac, PC or IOS device, but there’s no Android version, which feels like an oversight.
The only other things to get acquainted with are three buttons on the top for volume and playback, and the ethernet, power and auxiliary sockets around the rear (the type-b USB is for service only).
The Zeppelin plays and upscales to 24bit/192khz so a 96khz file of Muse’s
Supremacy seems like a good place to start.
The B&W’S physical width helps to create an expansive spread of sound that doesn’t struggle filling our large test room nor overpower our small one; close your eyes and it’s easy to imagine that the song’s epic orchestration is blaring from two speakers.
It doesn’t throw out just a big sound but also a precise, well imaged one that stays composed no matter the volume.
The complete low-down
We love the tight, well defined bass; the Muse track’s walloping drums are lathered with punch and power, and as the onslaught of distorted guitars comes in, there’s heft behind each string strum.
But there's detail too, the dramatic raptures of violins pulling through with clarity and texture in spades.
Convincingly organised and with a precise ear for rhythms, the B&W stays coherent and coordinated even in the dense orchestral climax. Its pricier competition shows it up in absolute timing but it’s very agile for its level.
Take the intensity down to a simple vocal and guitar accompaniment – this time Eva Cassidy’s Fields Of Gold – and you can really appreciate her soaring vocals and subtle trail offs.
More in the middle
A touch more solidity through the midrange would give the Zeppelin a little more authority; the £650 Naim Qb, for example, uncovers a hint of fragility and leanness to the Zeppelin. There’s also a slight dip in clarity when playing songs over Airplay, yet even a lo-res Spotify stream of Pink Floyd’s
Another Brick In The Wall Pt 1 sounds surprisingly informative.
The timeless Zeppelin Wireless keeps the range’s legacy alive, combining a fine sound with functionality and a seamless design.