Product Type: Bowers & Wilkins in PC Speakers
Newest Review: ... waiting for purple flashing lights, which did not happen as it should have (the flashing light was red). After about 20 minutes of reset... more
Excellent high end sound system with wireless capabilities.
Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin iPod Speaker Dock
Member Name: claire405
Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin iPod Speaker Dock
Advantages: Brilliant sound quality and very slick design. Great tech support from B&W.
Disadvantages: Tricky Wi-Fi setup
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First of all, the firmware and therefore instructions were out of date.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.
Summary: Wireless sound system that is also a handy iPod dock