Et tu, B&W?

Et tu, B&W?

If you think the iPod is destroying the market for high-fidelity audio, then hold onto your headphones: Legendary British speaker manufacturer Bowers & Wilkins is about to launch a powered speaker dock for the iPod.

The audiophiles who buy gear in the rarefied atmosphere that B&W occupies have long looked down their noses at MP3 players like the iPod, dismissing them as low-fi toys. So I would think this is a bit of a gamble for B&W, because it could alienate its customer base. But I guess it’s tough to ignore a market that’s more than 100 million units strong. It certainly hasn’t prevented several other erstwhile high-brow manufacturers—including Klipsch and Polk Audio—from stepping into the fray.

B&W’s Zeppelin—which looks just like you think it might—won’t be available until September, but it’s already caused a bit of a stir. The cigar-shaped enclosure will house two mid-range drivers (in the form of 3.5-inch glass-fiber cones) and a pair of one-inch aluminum dome tweeters. Bass will be handled by a single five-inch Kevlar/pulp-fiber cone, augmented by a twin ports in the rear.

The iPod will mount to a dock on a podium that emerges from between the two speaker enclosures, which will make the player look as though it’s floating in front of the speaker. The back of the device will consist of polished stainless steel, to “reflect the product’s surroundings,” according to the press release. The Zeppelin will come with a remote handset that can control both the speaker and the iPod.

All that British elegance will set you back about $600. Look for a hands-on review in an upcoming issue of the magazine.

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