Saturday, December 4, 2021

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin (2021) Review

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BOWERS & WILKINS ZEPPELIN (2021) SPECS

Channels2.1
BluetoothSure
Wi-FiSure
Multi-RoomSure
Bodily ConnectionsUSB-C
MoveableNo
Water-ResistantNo
SpeakerphoneNo
Voice AssistantAmazon Alexa

2021 marks fifteen years because of the debut of the original Zeppelin speaker, which was an enormous iPod dock; however, boy did it sound good. Bowers & Wilkins has launched a variety of new Zeppelin’s since then, retaining the enduring design whereas dropping the dock and including help for wi-fi audio. At $799, the 2021 version of the Zeppelin is the priciest. Still, it’s additionally essentially the most versatile, with help for 24-bit streaming through Apple AirPlay 2, Bluetooth, and Spotify Join, in addition to from extra streaming providers than earlier than. Sound high quality stays exemplary, and we just like the addition of a companion app that allows you to make EQ tweaks to bass and treble ranges. It even has built-in Alexa voice management, making it essentially the most aurally spectacular smart speaker we have heard so far. It requires enormous finances; however, the 2021 Zeppelin stays the best-looking and best-sounding all-in-one wireless speaker we’ve examined, incomes it our Editors’ Alternative award.

Impressed by Airships

They measured 8—three by 25.6 by 7.6 inches (HWD) and weighed in at a considerable 14. The Zeppelin is aptly named three kilos—each its rounded contour and general dimension evoke the cylindrical airships of yesteryear. The speaker is on the market in a darkish, practically black grey or a lighter, different metallic grey.

As with earlier fashions, a material grille covers the entrance of the speaker. Behind the grille, the brand new Zeppelin homes twin 1-inch, double-dome 40-watt tweeters; twin 3.5-inch, FST 40-watt midrange drivers; and a single 6-inch, 80-watt subwoofer. 240-watt amplifier powers these elements, which collectively ship a frequency vary of 35Hz to 24kHz.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin (2021) Review
Amazon

An accessible plastic material covers the again, and a management strip sits just under the highest ridge of the speaker (and out of sight when viewing it from the entrance). The again panel homes buttons for adjusting the quantity, accessing Alexa, controlling playback, and for multi-room audio management as soon as that operate is enabled subsequent 12 months (you’ll press the button to tug music that’s enjoying out of your B&W Formation Bar, for instance, to the Zeppelin). Alexa works identical to it on any Echo speaker—you’ll be able to press the Alexa button to summon the voice assistant or simply give voice instructions starting with the “Alexa” phrase. When you’re involved in privateness, you’ll be able to flip the always-on Alexa mic off—simply press the Alexa button for 5 seconds.

The speaker enclosure rests on a large metallic stand that’s exhausting to see from all angles and might make the Zeppelin seem hover. When powered up, a pale, bluish-white gentle illuminates the mood—it’s a good-looking element you’ll be able to dim or flip off within the app. A rubber pad covers the underside of the stand—that materials and the Zeppelin’s substantial weight maintain it firmly planted on flat surfaces.

Zeppelin controls
Amazon

Recessed into the again of the built-in stand, there’s a panel with a USB-C port for service, the connection for the included energy provide cable and a reset button.

The Zeppelin is suitable with Bluetooth 5. zero and helps the AAC, AptX Adaptive, and SBC codecs. The speaker helps as much as 24-bit/96kHz audio from numerous streaming providers with Deezer, Qobuz, Tidal, and others, assuming you pay for a subscription that allows you to stream at that high quality. The Zeppelin additionally works with Apple AirPlay 2 and Spotify Join.

Zeppelin App Controls and Sensible Options

The Bowers & Wilkins Music App for Android and iOS is well-designed and helps you correctly arrange the Zeppelin. After that, it’s not essential to the speaker’s operation; nevertheless, it does have some helpful adjustable options. One factor to notice is that you must create an account and your email material to use the app, which looks like a pointless hoop to leap by for a product that prices $800.

When you create an account, you’ll be able to pair the Zeppelin, obtain any needed software program updates, and hyperlink any music streaming services you need to use throughout the app. After all, you can even simply stream audio onto the speaker out of your app or the connection technique of alternative.

The app has several helpful controls, together with a bass and treble fader, a dimmer for the LED that lights the speaker’s base, and Alexa-specific settings. The app may also operate as a multi-room controller should you join several Bower & Wilkins audio systems.

After you hyperlink your Amazon account to the app, you need to use Alexa to play music—the mic is always on by default; however, as discussed, you’ll be able to mute it through the Alexa button on the speaker. Once you press the Alexa button on the Zeppelin’s management panel, the speaker’s base’s LED turns blue, whereas Alexa listens. The Alexa set up course is comparatively seamless, and the speaker’s mic had no hassle selecting up voice instructions, even from a distance.

For the value, we wish to see extra connectivity choices—there’s no aux enter or some other option to bodily join an excellent supply due to the USB-C port would not help audio playback. And though the app allows you to modify bass and treble, we would like a 5-band EQ. That stated, for a speaker that already sounds wonderful, bass and treble faders are principally enough. 

A Loud and Dynamic Sound Signature

The Zeppelin will get loud and drive a formidable quantity of firepower, regardless of its all-in-one design. At prime quantity ranges, anticipate the digital signal processing (DSP) to kick in and redial the low frequencies and peaks to a level. And we hoped for a greater sense of stereo separation given the speaker’s lengthy construct—though you continue to get the entire left and proper channel content material, it appears like a mono speaker from a standard listening distance.

On tracks with intense sub-bass content material, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the Zeppelin delivers thunderous low-frequency response. At prime volumes, it would not distort, and at bare decrease (however nonetheless fairly loud) ranges, the bass sounds critically robust. The DSP does an excellent job of not letting issues sound too dynamically squashed. At low volumes, the speaker conveys a strong sense of bass depth, and the steadiness with the highs in any respect volumes is good.

Invoice Callahan’s “Drover,” a monitor with far much less deep bass within the combine, provides us a greater sense of the Zeppelin’s sound signature. The drums on this monitor sound wonderful by the Zeppelin drivers—the subwoofer provides some thump; however, the drums do not appear overly boosted or unnatural. The speaker dutifully presents the midrange and highs, so Callahan’s baritone vocals get each splendid low-mid richness and high-mid crispness. The acoustic strums and higher-frequency percussive hits are vibrant, ethereal, and clear—this can be a balanced, stunning sound signature.

Zeppelin internal components
Amazon

On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church within the Wild,” the kick drum loop receives sufficient high-mid presence for its assault to retain its punchiness. We hear a bit extra of the DSP on this monitor at increased volumes, nevertheless. The kick drum hits can typically sound as if they decrease the available quantity for a brief second, an impact that causes the background vinyl crackle and hisses to sound as if it is coming in waves. In this case, the DSP could be a tad heavy-handed; nevertheless, it’s sometimes extra clear. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat arrive with solid energy, although we hear much less of their intense lows than we’d with a more giant, extra highly effective subwoofer. In different phrases, the Zeppelin has no hassle reproducing highly effective lows, and it undergoes a bit of drop-off earlier than delivering the most resounding subwoofer rumble. The Zeppelin presents vocals on this monitor cleanly and clearly, without a lot of added sibilance. At excessive volumes, when the DSP is closely engaged, the lows can typically sound as if they intervene with the vocals; however, you’ll be able to fight that impact by redialing the lows within the app or decreasing the quantity.

Orchestral tracks, just like the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel By the Different Mary, sound great by the Zeppelin. The lower register instrumentation has physique, depth. Life at excessive volumes when—it would not sound overly boosted and leaves loads of room for the higher-register brass, strings, and vocals to shine brightly on the forefront of the combo, like Miles Davis’s “Pharaoh’s Dance,” classical and jazz music sound full and lifelike by the Zeppelin. 

Elegant Design Meets Spectacular Sound

Very similar to its predecessors, the 2021 version of the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin stands out for its daring visible design and top-notch audio efficiency. The addition of Amazon Alexa makes this essentially the most spectacular good speaker we have examined. Several connectivity choices enable high-fidelity streaming. It doesn’t matter what service or playback technique you utilize. When you’re searching for a purer sound, think about a 2.1 soundbar system or some bookshelf speakers with much less noticeable DSP, just like the equally priced Sonos Arc or The Fives from Klipsch. However, for the final word all-in-one sound system, the Zeppelin is the speaker to beat as soon as once more, and our Editors’ Alternative.

PROS

  • Highly effective audio efficiency with wealthy bass and detailed highs
  • Trendy, iconic design
  • The app contains adjustable bass and treble settings
  • Constructed-in Amazon Alexa voice management

CONS

  • Stereo separation could be extra pronounced
  • Costly
  • Digital sign processing is not for purists

THE BOTTOM LINE

The 2021 mannequin of the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin speaker delivers excellent, high-fidelity wi-fi audio from a strikingly designed enclosure, with built-in help for Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.


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