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Accessories Review of Bowers & Wilkins B&W Zeppelin Wireless BT w/aptX 150W speaker w/pics!!!


Android Expert
Jul 30, 2010
This is a review of Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless Bluetooth speaker w/apt-X support. http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/Wirel...-Wireless/product-details.html#ep-component-k, available on Amazon.

Just because I'm fully vested in a portable audio setup, doesn't mean that I'm not curious about full size speakers. Back in the "brick and mortar" days when I used to visit our local Best Buy and browse through the isles, I often ended up taking a break in their Magnolia A/V room filled with comfy leather recliners and full size floor speakers. I have no doubt some of them were probably by B&W, but I never paid a close attention due to a personal lack of interest as well as their steep prices. Nevertheless, I do remember the realism of the sound, the feeling of a deep bass, and the organic presentation of instruments and vocals. These full size speakers were temping, but not practical for my use. Now I only deal with speakers when reviewing portable wireless audio, though they can't match the performance of full size ones.

Not too long ago wireless speakers were the talk of the town due to smartphones limitation of having a weak built-in speaker. A small external wireless speaker provided an improvement, but it became less noticeable with a new wave of smartphone models that caught up in the sound quality and the level of loudness. As a result, portable wireless speaker manufacturers had to re-invent themselves with bigger and more powerful designs, while some other well known big speaker manufacturers decided to scale down to a more portable wireless footprint. One thing they had in common: everybody realized that wireless speakers are not just about the looks and the convenience but also a sound quality.

While being a fan of B&W headphones, I was always jealous of their portable wireless speakers with AirPlay only support. Introduction of T7 was a breath of fresh air, especially since it supported Bluetooth. B&W took decades of their full size speaker experience and stuffed it inside of a small portable brick featuring a powerful deep sound. It was definitely a step up from the other "cute" thin-sounding Bluetooth accessory speakers. But despite a noticeable sound improvement, T7 still caters to a crowd that prefers portability over the top sound performance, thus you can enjoy it outdoors or in a smaller space indoors. To step up to the next level of sound quality with some compromises in portability, now you have Zeppelin Wireless. It's another B&W product that was out of my Android reach until it finally seen the light of the day with a full Bluetooth support - FINALLY!!! Here is more about it.


I know it probably sounds like a cliché, but I really didn't know what to expect while waiting to receive Zeppelin Wireless. Website pictures could be very deceiving when trying to figure out the actual size of the product, and as a result I was a bit surprised to see a large and heavy box when it finally arrived. Considering a rather unique shape of the speaker, B&W did a great job with packaging and using styrofoam pieces to keep everything secure inside. You really have to carefully align it to put the speaker back into the box.

In addition to a speaker, you will also find a quick start guide, a color booklet with a history of B&W products, and a power cord. I can't really think of any other accessory they could have included considering this is not a portable on-the-go speaker you can "accessorize". Though, would have been nice to include a cable with UC-E6 connector which is required for service update. I don't even know if I need this service cable, but the fact that there is a service port and it uses a rare usb connector - I would have loved to see that cable. And considering how much emphasis is put into an Ethernet port and configuration with Ethernet cable connected to your computer – I’m very surprised that Ethernet cable was not included in the package. Since majority of people use wireless connection at home, not everybody going to have Ethernet cable laying around.





Once you start taking the speaker out of the box, you better hold on to it tight since this is one heavy and slick piece! Just imagine if someone would have grabbed a football, stuffed it with 15 lbs of weight and stretched it out to 188mm (H) x 660mm (W) x 183mm (D) size, and you will have an idea of what to expect. The shape of the speaker is like nothing I have seen before. This is definitely not your traditional rectangular or cylindrical shape speaker cabinet. After all, B&W is well known for some original designs that make them standout from the crowd. With Zeppelin Wireless, good luck trying to hide it out of sight since its unique shape will certainly make it a centerpiece of any room.

Though the shape of Zeppelin is rather un-traditional in comparison to other speakers, it has a nice sturdy base with a non-slip rubber bottom to keep it steady on any surface. The speaker cabinet is made of heavy duty composite plastic material with a front grill dressed in a quality speaker cloth. Located discretely on the back at the top are 3 control buttons with Play/Pause and +/- volume adjustment. Buttons are shaped according to their functionality and have a nice tactile feedback when pressed. These buttons have a seamless integration with a cabinet, and easy to locate just by sliding your finger without even looking. You can clearly see that a lot of work went into aesthetics of the design which blends the art and the performance in one smooth harmony.

Moving down closer to the back of the base you will find other ports and controls, such as Power button, RJ45 Ethernet jack (for direct network connection), 100/240V power jack, 3.5mm auxiliary port, usb service port (UC-E6 connector), and a reset button. Ethernet port allows a direct network interface without a need for a wireless connection, thus a more steady streaming connection. Aux port is convenient when you want a quick hassle free direct connection, and Service port is for future firmware updates. Unfortunately, this is NOT a portable speaker that you can just pick up and go anywhere inside or outside of the house. Due to requirements to support powerful drivers and DSP/amplifier, Zeppelin Wireless doesn't have an internal battery and needs to be constantly plugged in to a power outlet.

There are a few more control buttons available on the front where you have a small extension lip from the base that comes out with “Bowers & Wilkins” raised label next to the power led. Here B&W decided to hide 2 touch buttons. On the left side of this extension lip you have AUX button and on the right side there is Bluetooth button/led. These buttons are very discrete and you wouldn’t even think for a second that something is there, but I wish it would have some tactile feedback because sometime it’s hard to know if a button was pressed successfully.

Overall, when it comes to Zeppelin Wireless design, I’m afraid some people might find it polarizing due to its untraditional shape. It’s a lot easier to deal with a typical rectangular speaker when it comes to placing it in the room. Here, you are looking at a unique design which going to attract the attention, both due to its shape and its sound. Wherever you decide to place it has to be closer to power outlet and with a front of the speaker facing the room. Personally, I like the look and the shape of this speaker - like a magnet, it draws your attention right in.









Pair up.

Next I would like to talk about different available options to connect Zeppelin Wireless to your audio source. As I mentioned before, I used to be frustrated with Zeppelin exclusive Apple-only device compatibility due to AirPlay support. My experience of testing and reviewing wireless speakers is based solely on Bluetooth connection with various Android devices. By adding support of Bluetooth 4.0, B&W opened up a door to a whole new world of Android users who can now start enjoying this speaker.

You have different ways to connect and to control Zeppelin from your audio source, wirelessly using Bluetooth connection, wirelessly using AirPlay streaming, and with Spotify Connect from within the app utilizing either wired or wireless connection. I have Apple-free household, thus can’t confirm anything related to AirPlay. I was also in disadvantage of not being able to download and to use configuration app from Apple store in order to run wireless config that way. I did download B&W Control app/program from their website to install it on my Windows laptop which suppose to guide you through wireless/wired config, but I never got it to connect to a speaker.

If you are going to start reading B&W instructions about wired versus wireless connection, you will end up pulling your hair out because these instructions are very confusing, and I consider myself to be tech savvy. In my opinion, just forget about all this connection nonsense! Turn on your speaker, enter in pair up mode, search for it in the list of your wireless Bluetooth devices on the phone, tap to select it, and enjoy the AMAZING wireless audio performance from any of your audio app, either playing music stored directly on your phone/tablet or streaming from Spotify/Tidal or other apps and services. And you can enjoy this 60+ feet away from the speaker, wireless across the open space with a phone source in your pocket!

This doesn't have to be complicated, and perhaps there is something to why B&W didn’t include a printed detailed manual or Ethernet cable or Service cable. You don’t need any of these extras to pair up Zeppelin Wireless with your favorite audio source. Of course, if you are feeling adventurous, hit the Reset button to clear all your wireless pair-up settings, and start from the scratch with ethernet cable connection to your computer, configuration through a web browser, and going back to wireless pair up. But I want to make it clear that it’s NOT necessary.




Under the hood.

I think B&W did a very impressive job supercharging their Zeppelin Wireless speaker. Inside of its reinforced cabinet enclosure, designed specifically to eliminate any vibration, you will find 5 separate speakers individually driven by dedicated audiophile quality Class D amps to pump out a total of 150W of power:

- 2x Double Dome tweeters, 25mm (1”), each rated at 25W.
- 2x FST midrange drivers, 90mm (3.5” ) each rated at 25W.
- 1x Ultra Long-Throw voice coil subwoofer, 150mm (6"), rated at 50W.

I'm not going to pretend to be know-it-all speaker guru, and after some research found "FST" to stand for Fixed Suspension Transducer which allows a more controlled speaker cone behavior, a technology B&W borrowed from their flagship speaker models.

Furthermore, to ensure a bit perfect streaming of the audio, Zeppelin Wireless is equipped with an updated version (in comparison to older Zeppelin models) of DSP where audio is processed at 24bit/192kHz without being down-sampled. The quality of internal sound processing was noticeable considering using either my Note 4 (w/apt-x support) and FiiO X7 (without apt-x support) yielded nearly the same audio quality. Taking all this into consideration, one can easily understand B&W decision to keep the audio connection wireless while power connection wired.

From B&W website, this is how it looks inside.


Sound Analysis.

Just like I didn't know what to expect when I opened Zeppelin Wireless packaging box, I wasn't sure what to expect when I hit the Play on my phone paired up to this speaker. There is one adjective I rarely use in sound description ("visceral"), and there is a good reason for that. When it comes to the bass, I usually hear it with my in-ear monitors and the same with my non-basshead full size headphones or other wireless speakers I've tested in the past. With Zeppelin Wireless I felt the bass, a deep rich natural visceral bass, where I had to take a few steps back to appreciate it more.

No, I'm not talking about a pounding sloppy sub-woofer bass that overpowers the rest of the sound spectrum. Zeppelin Wireless has a tight bass performance with a deep textured sub-bass rumble you can hear from far away, a tight punchy mid-bass which I honestly didn't expect from a dynamic speaker. A warm organic mids have a clear detailed presentation with a full body lower mids and detailed natural upper mids (beautiful vocals rendition). Treble was extended, well defined, clear, but not as crisp or airy - a performance typical of a natural sound, smooth and organic.

I found soundstage expansion to have above the average performance for a speaker, not exactly a holographic 3D effect. Some people describe experience of listening to quality full size speakers as being on stage surrounded by the orchestra. With Zeppelin Wireless sound expansion is definitely better than any other wireless speaker I heard in the past (except for RIVA Turbo X in surround mode), but I wouldn't call it as being in the middle of the action - it felt more like in-front of the stage. With full size speakers you have a physical separation, considering individual Left and Right cabinets placed apart, and the acoustics of the room with a sound reflecting of the walls will create a more convincing spatial effect. Here, the physical separation of L/R sides is still confined within a single speaker cabinet.

In our house we have an open main floor plan with living, dining, family, kitchen, and kids playroom. With speaker being placed in the corner of the farthest room, the whole entire 1st floor was filled with music, and even bass came through deep enough. Surprisingly, when I went upstairs to our bedroom I was still able to hear sound very clear, and the same when I went downstairs to the basement - the powerful sound of Zeppelin Wireless filled in our entire house.

If I try to put Zeppelin Wireless against other speakers I have recently tested, nothing really comes close as a direct competition. UE Boom is in a much weaker power category, lacking sub-bass, and having a thinner sound. The same with Bose SoundLink series where you have plenty of sub-bass, but not enough power or overall clarity. B&W T7 is pretty good, but with a max of 24W it can't compare to Zeppelin, and also its sound is more colored. RIVA Turbo X did impress me with its 45W of power, but the sound is leaner, doesn't fill up room space the same way how Zeppelin does, bass doesn't go as deep, mid-bass is slower, and overall sound is brighter and less organic.


When I'm reviewing headphones and DAPs, I often bring up a principle of diminishing returns where sometime doubling in price only brings you a very marginal sound improvement, and at the end it's up to a buyer if the price premium worth it. Zeppelin Wireless is the most expensive wireless speaker I have tested to date; doubling the price of my previous favorites T7 and Turbo X. If you are not looking for a portable rechargeable audio speaker, and focusing purely on the sound quality - I can honestly tell you that Zeppelin Wireless sounds at least twice as good as those other two speakers. Keep in mind, Zeppelin is NOT portable and will require to be plugged into the wall since there is no internal battery. Also, it's too powerful and rather big for a small room. But if you have space to accommodate this latest masterpiece from a legendary design studio of Bowers & Wilkins - you will be able to experience the performance of a truly premium full size speaker sound at a fraction of the cost and wireless from your phone or tablet. My only wish for B&W is to be able to capture sound performance of Zeppelin Wireless and package it in a more portable wireless footprint, perhaps T9?
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Hi twister6,
great review of b&w zeppelin wireless. thank u.
i ve a bose soundlink mini and an old music system onkyo crn755 + dali zensor 1 speakers. but music system is huge. i want one piece equipment that delivers high quality music. as zeppelin wireless.
i looked at, sony srs x99 , sonos play 3 and 5 and zeppelin wireless.
i ll sell onkyo crn755 + dali zensor 1 speakers for sure. because there s no airplay. no aesthetic ( wires ) and no airplay.

what do u recommend to me? my best choice would be a bw t9 as you said. (zeppelin sound quality and portability of t7 )

maybe there s a music system as a bw t9 we dream of.

thank u very much.
Upvote 0
Hi twister6,
great review of b&w zeppelin wireless. thank u.
i ve a bose soundlink mini and an old music system onkyo crn755 + dali zensor 1 speakers. but music system is huge. i want one piece equipment that delivers high quality music. as zeppelin wireless.
i looked at, sony srs x99 , sonos play 3 and 5 and zeppelin wireless.
i ll sell onkyo crn755 + dali zensor 1 speakers for sure. because there s no airplay. no aesthetic ( wires ) and no airplay.

what do u recommend to me? my best choice would be a bw t9 as you said. (zeppelin sound quality and portability of t7 )

maybe there s a music system as a bw t9 we dream of.

thank u very much.

Yeah, just a wishful thinking, I guess. Zeppelin sound quality is amazing, but it's big, and the shape is not very practical since you literally need to find a special place for the placement. But the sound will blow your socks off, it's B&W after all...
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Upvote 0


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