My other half had been eying up the Zeppelin for several years and I finally took the plunge and bought him one for Christmas. I bought it from John Lewis for £449, but check their website because they also sell Grade B stock (this is returned and refurbished stock) for £399. Both version come with a 2 year guarantee. We have the latest model (as of December 2012) Zeppelin Air which includes the AirPlay function. AirPlay allows you to stream music from your computer/iPhone/iPod/iPad wirelessly via a WiFi connection. Apparently, you can steam sound from games too if you're that way inclined, but we haven't tried this. You can also get additional speakers, put them in different rooms and stream to same music to all of them simultaneously in party mode. This was a big selling point for me and what finally made me cave in. I hate all the cables involved with wired connections, and I also like to be able to use my device to surf the internet at the same time as listening to music.
As a plug and play iPod/iPhone dock, the Zeppelin does indeed work straight out of the box. Plug in the power lead, switch it on, place your device in the cradle and you're ready to go. It will even charge your device during play back. However, when it comes to setting up AirPlay, the Zeppelin is not for the technophobe (or the colourblind). I'm going to include all the details here, as this is information I would have loved to know from the start:
First of all, the firmware and therefore instructions were out of date. According to the instructions, the first step was to connect the Zeppelin to a Mac/PC using the supplied ethernet cable. There was no ethernet cable supplied, but we had one, so not a big crisis. There was then a sequence of pressing buttons and waiting for purple flashing lights, which did not happen as it should have (the flashing light was red). After about 20 minutes of resetting and repeating, I checked the B&W website, and found out that this method of setup was no longer supported and we were required to download a a firmware update. This was fairly straight forward and involved downloading an app called Zeppelin Air Programmer onto my macbook and running it with the Zeppelin connected via a USB cable (same as what you use for a printer - and again not supplied. To be fair, they didn't claim to supply this cable). You think this is the end of the process, but no, you still need to connect it to Wifi. You need to download a second app - the Bowers & Wilkins AirPlay Setup App. The B&W online support implied that, like the first one, this was an app to run on the computer, but following the link lead to me downloading an iPhone app, so I ended up using that instead. The absent ethernet cable was not required, but there was more button pushing and light flashing, this time we were looking for a yellow light, and got a green light. For the sake of our marriage, we decided it was time to call B&W tech support. I am very pleased to report that they have a freephone number (0800 232 1513) and they answered quickly and were professional and solved the problem. It needed a reset, this involved using a toothpick to hold down a little button on the back until we saw a red flashing light and lo and behold, a red flashing light did appear. We then followed the instructions on the iPhone app:
Plug in power cable.
Red pulsing light appears and changes to yellow flashing light.
Press the home button on your iPhone and go to your iPhone settings, select Wi-Fi and choose "yourdevice_setup".
Return to the Bowers & Wilkins AirPlay Setup App.
Allocate a name to the speaker and enter you Wi-Fi password.
Wait for non-flashing purple light.
Done - you can now play music from any device that is connected to the Wi-Fi network.
The app crashed at the end, but the connection was set up and it's fine.
I'm no audiophile, but I do appreciate a good quality music system some songs just have to be played loud. Having played around with this for few days now, we have tried rock, alternative, classical, orchestral and folk music and we've tried cranking it up. Considering it's size (H17.3 x W64 x D20.8cm), it really packs a punch. It can really fill a large room and the sound has a rich depth and warm quality to it that I have never experienced from a home system. We tried it outside and this thing is LOUD with no noticeable distortion at the higher volumes. Having spent many hours trailing around shops trying out the various docks on offer, in my opinion, the B&W Zeppelin is only matched by the Bose systems, but it wins hands down on looks.
I've tried streaming from my MacBook, iPad and iPhone. After the initial problems with setup, it has worked flawlessly ever since on our BT Home Hub network. Although, I have heard that this can depend on how flakey your Wi-Fi is.
To play music from your iTunes library you open iTunes, click on the icon of a square with a triangle at the bottom then hit play. Same for streaming from iPhone/iPod/iPad. Of course, it can only stream from one at a time, so you have to stop one to use a different one.
Music can also be streamed from other music apps, so far I have tried this with Spotify and Amazon Cloud Player and they work fine. LastFM, mixcloud and Pandora are also supported
The picture above does not do the B&W Zeppelin Air justice. All the messing about with setup did not irritate me as much as this kind of thing usually would and that's because the B&W is beautiful. It's a bit like misbehaving child that you can't stay mad at for long. You look at it and it makes you smile. It's sturdy and has an almost minimalist modern look to it. As can be seen in the picture, the speaker is zeppelin-shaped and it is black with a shiny chrome strip down the middle and a chrome iPod dock. The back is also black.
It has a very cute little remote control that is shaped like a shiny black pebble. It has the standard functions of on/off, volume control, play, pause skip forwards and backwards and source select (docked iPod or AirPlay - you can leave your device charging on the dock whilst streaming music from a different device). I haven't used the remote control very much and prefer to stream the music from my iTunes library on the computer and use the Remote app on my iPhone to control it. This allows me to scroll through our entire music collection and play music, control the volume etc all from a different room.
Speaker output (RMS) - 150W (low frequency: 1x50, mid frequency: 2x25W, high frequency: 2x25W)
USB port - 1 (for updates)
Video input / output -S-Video and composite outputs
Audio input - 3.5mm analogue mini jack, optical digital input (TOSlink) and iPod/iPhone dock
H17.3 x W64 x D20.8cm
Weight - 6.2kg
At first glance this is a lot of money for an iPod dock, but on closer inspection, it is so much more than that. This is a high end sound system and the wireless capabilities really do set your music free. It's well worth the money and I can't wait to have some friends round to show it off. The AirPlay setup is confusing, but it's worth the effort.
I, like many, have been through many means of playing music from my iPod/iPhone in my bedroom...connected it to the back of my Hi-Fi via Auxiliary cable, had it connected directly to portable speakers and a couple of docks. They all play the music, yes, but when it comes to audio i'm a bit picky to say the least. I like to have a room filled with high quality sound that I can crank up when desired. As will be outlined in this review I feel that my needs have been satisfied by this product and it has been done very stylishly. I paid £399 from Selfridges in-store for mine around 6 months ago.
DESIGN, From any angle the B & W Zeppelin is a brilliant looking bit of kit, It fits in very well with the design of my room and I can't rightly thing of a room it wouldn't sit comfortably in. It stands proud with a curved, black, Zeppelin like design and curved metal band on which the iPod sits. The iPod sits very firmly on the dock due to its well designed spring loaded connector. This connector has another advantage that for me is a major upside, all iPod models will fit comfortably and securely without the need for andy other type of adaptor...in my experience this has been where other docks has failed, plus a white bit of plastic would hardly fit into the aesthetic of the dock. I was worried before I set it on the table top that it would be easy to roll backward or forward due to its curvature but this worry was soon abolished when I got it and realised it sits very securely. The unit itself has an on/off button and volume control placed on the metal band that runs down the centre. The dimensions are H19.8 x W64 x 20.8cm.
SOUND, As a sound engineer, this is a very important factor for me. The geeky bit...B & W have put 5 speakers into this one unit that are powered by 3 amps, 1 for the central 125mm subwoofer and the other 2 are there for the pairs of 25mm tweeters and 90mm woofers that sit very symmetrically either side of the sub. The company claim that the dock will give there larger speaker systems a run for there money. I agree with B & W, the unit produces a brilliant sound that is well-rounded, it has punchy bass and vibrantly balanced mid and hi tones. The volume is perfect for my needs, I never find the need to go over about 50%...and it's quite a large room. I have found no distortion at higher volume levels and it really does fill the room, perfect! I listen to a wide variety of music including DubStep, Electro, Rock, Classical, Jazz and Down-Tempo...In short the Zeppelin handles them all very well offering surprising Left and Right stereo separation. I find when you get into high-end home audio equipment which lets face it, this is, it starts to get hard to pick out problems...but in the interest of a balanced review I would say for the more bass heavy dance music the bass does overpower more than some other systems I've listened to, I'm talking about flat EQ on the iPod.
DAY-TO-DAY, As well as the controls that are on the dock itself in the box you have a very nice looking pebble shaped controller that allows you to control the volume, next/previous track and play/pause. It works well enough for the ranges I use it at. It is annoying that the controller doesn't allow you to use the library on the iPod itself...it's all about playlists on this unit. On the stainless steel panel at the back you get a USB port, 3.5mm jack input, S-Video and composite video outputs. I found that when streaming video from my iPod through the Zeppelin the quality was a bit poor on my large TV so I suggest using this for music.
IN SUMMARY, I have been very very pleased with this dock by Bowers & Wilkins. It has a brilliant sound that honestly is similar to that from a full component, multiple speaker Hi-Fi system. Obviously you have to have an iPod or iPhone to use it as it's intended but i suppose you wouldn't be looking for an iPod dock if you didn't. It looks great and had been brilliant reliability wise to this point. Yes, it is expensive but the sound quality certainly lives up to the price. I would, without a doubt, recommend this product.
I spent absolutely ages in John Lewis (much to the annoyance of my girlfriend) trying to comparing several iPod docks from the major manufacturers in this field. Now I'm writing this review so you don't have to!
The main thing that has to be considered when investing in a piece of kit like this is of course the sound quality. The Zeppelin is much heavier on the bass than many others out there and the depthness of sound is awesome - much better than the Bose counterparts and the Zeppelin mini. If you are someone who doesn't particularly like heavy bass, then I've found the equalizer on my iPod nano is sufficient to reduce it to a level to suit all tastes.
Another thing to be considered is the additional features. The Zeppelin only has one of note, but it is an important one. Not only can one plug it in and play straight away, but with an audio jack you can easily connect it to other devices, such as your tv. It means I've used the Zeppelin much more than I expected; everytime we watch a dvd or blu ray we straight away connect it up and it's cinema like sound in your living room - amazing!
Another point of note is that if you have an iPod nano like me, then the B & W Zeppelin is easily the best to use as the iPod sits such that you can get your hand around it to use the wheel.
Overall, this is an awesome piece of kit, with great sound quality and it looks fantastic!
Im not a techy bod, so im writing this for the layman, because thats what I am.
Whilst attending a wedding in brighton, we stayed in a hotel for several days on the marina for a few days and when we walked in I saw this huge black traffic cone sitting on the table, I didnt know what to make of it at first thinking it was some sort of alien craft...but I saw the ipod dock, and put my ipod in,
Now, I have to say the sound on this thing is incredible, ultra-wide sound is supplied by 5 speakers within the unit..2 tweeters (which help to keep the sound undistorted when you raise the volume and with it the bass- as you hear in so many boy racers cars !), 1 mid speaker and 2 bass units. the effect seems to emerse you in sound. 1oo watts of sound actually, but its sound like far more.
The depth and clarity of the sound is remarkable, I played the dark knight soundtrack on fairly full blast, as you can easily control the volume from your ipod, whlst the mrs was in the shower and I dare anyone to saw the track 'like a dog chasing cars' sounds lame on this.
There is only one small wire for power, and no others, so if you place it on the right shelf its astectically pleasing. You can use wifi and internet radio on it and its also charges your ipod whilst you play...but I suppose that is a standad feature these days, You also have a remote control which works on your ipod which looks like a black egg ! There is also an input device that will aloow you to connect it with any mp3 player
OK design wise its great, its distinctive and different, i takes up a bit of room and I should imagine that dust settle on the fabricy black cloth exterior after a while, but its a small price to pay for class like this. The rest of the unit is stainless steel with black trim and wthout finger prints looks very futuristic
Other reviews would say it is pricey nd I suppose when you cadown to asda and pick a fairly good sony hifi for £100 thats true...but think about this, the wedding was 10 months ago...when I looked on the net when I got home this retailed at £500 and so it was wayy out for me....it now retails at around £390 !
If you bought this, you probably need to buy an egg chair I think...otherwise it just seems wrong. I used this devise for a number of days and contrary to some reviewers comments other then using it for an ipod dock there is only so many other functions you can use it for ! And I got good usage out of it as an Ipod dock
Our front room, and more exactly how to fill it with sound, had long been a subject of discussion in our household before this B & W solved the debate that had been raging between me and my other half for quite a while. I've got to admit that hi-fi equipment is not my area of expertise, and I don't know my tweeter from my midrange frankly (so stop reading now if you are looking for that kind of review), however I do know that whilst I do want to be able to listen to music in my front room and be able to boost the sound from the TV, I don't want to have huge speakers and wires all over the place in order to be able to do so. This top of the range i-Pod dock is the perfect solution to that problem and as well as, in my opinion, looking good, fills our quite large front room with sound, all managed and generated from an i-pod, and the involvement of a minimal amount of wires.
Probably, like most gadget loving men, my husband would have been more than happy to have huge speakers dominating the room, (actually that's not a probably, he would have bought some monster huge things if left to his own devices), but I was less keen. One thing we could both agree on during our "negotiations" as to how to have a good sound system in our front room, was that this distinctively shaped i-pod dock was a beautiful piece of design, it has a lovely shiny stainless steel back to it that you can't see on the picture, and it would fit in much better with our room aesthetically - but would the sound be up to it? On first listening I think we both agreed that it was, and after owning this for a while now I still think it is a very good looking dock indeed.
The B & W speaker dock is a quality piece of kit, there are actually 5 speakers housed within it, according to the manufacturer they have used the same technology in this small piece of equipment that they use in much larger speakers, they are a well known and regarded hi-fi manufacturer, known for making quality items. This is not, I should say, a cheap item, it will set you back £399 at John Lewis, we managed to buy ours for some £60 less, but it is still a pricey piece of equipment, and clearly you will need an i-pod to use it. Most i-pods are compatible (full list on site at the bottom of this review) and you can also use your i-phone with it, on the docking port you can see at the front of the stereo.
Once attached (an easy thing to do) you can then use your i-pod menu to work the dock, and also to adjust the bass levels so that you can work out the perfect configuration for your room. The position of the i-pod makes this extremely easy, most i-pods will be recharged by the dock whilst in use. On the zeppelin itself there is also an on/off button and a volume button, discretely placed in the stainless steel strip that separates the two speakser - it's all straight forward and intuitive, you can't really go wrong. As well as the controls on the device, there is also a small pebble shaped remote which contains all the main functions you will need and which will allow you to increase or decrease the volume, and also change songs and also the input, there is an optical digital input to which you can connect other devices. We have our dock set up to the TV (cable not included), and this enables us to get that cinema sound experience.
So how does it actually sound? Well, extremely good. The sound is much fuller and rounder than you would expect from a relatively small item (H19.8 x W64 x 20.8cm) - the speakers have a hefty 100W output; you can fill a room with sound and there is no distortion and the bass has surprising depth to it thanks to the internal subwoofer driver apparently. It sounds like a much bigger system than it actually is, and even to my extremely uneducated ears, the sound is refined and the clarity is amazing, they've packed 2 tweeters, midrange and the bass speaker already mentioned into a small space. According to the manufacturer the tapering end of the speakers makes the baffle area minimal - I've got to admit this doesn't mean much to me, but I do know that you can increase the volume to really high without there being any distortion - there is a small light within the body of the dock that will flash white when you are reaching maximum, but in all honesty your ears will tell you before you reach this point, this item is loud enough to fill what is quite a large room in our case and certainly a huge improvement on the small system we had prior to this.
Looks wise, well as I have already said I really like the look of the dock - obviously it is one of those "marmite" items so you may not share my love of the design, it's certainly distinctive and, for me, it oozes quality on the outside and appears to be well made on the inside too, all the innards are beautifully concealed and encased, the only thing I would say is that the remote is a little too light and cheaper looking than the dock itself, but it does the job, and as it is smaller than the palm of my hand and has few buttons at least it is easy to use and decidedly not another over-huge remote to add to those already cluttering our front room. The stainless steel is of a high grade finish I would say and this item almost looks as good from the back as the front. On a practical note we have found that the actual black part of the speakers does attract dust - we are careful when cleaning, and use a delicate brush as the last thing we would want to do is damage the sensitive speakers inside, that said there is nothing to attract small fingers to push - we do have children around but aren't worried about them being able to break this in any way.
Overall, for us, this is a perfect albeit expensive solution to our audio issues, and both of us are really pleased with it, me as I find it easy to use, like the look of it as well and the sound, and my husband as it just about fulfils his hi-fi yearnings - secretly he probably would still like 2 metre tall even more expensive speakers, but all in all we both have been delighted with this dock and I would certainly recommend it, it's restored marital harmony in our household, and it's just, to my mind, a beautiful, practical, and iconic item to own, and though I can't believe I'm about to say this about a set of speakers - I love it!
For more technical details and pics: