For many, the initials B&W will conjure images of Ansel Adams photographs and Hollywood classics; the thoughts of audiophiles, however, will turn fondly to the legendary speakers of Bowers & Wilkins. The idea of B&W turning its thoughts to the iPod will blanch the cheeks of many a blue blood, but we’re damn happy the Zeppelin has landed.
We’ve been expecting someone to knock Klipsch’s iGroove HG off its pedestal, and the Zeppelin hurls it to the ground, stands over it and urinates, and then lights it on fire. Then again, the Zeppelin’s price tag is treble that of the iGroove HG’s, so its introduction doesn’t really diminish our opinion of Klipsch’s product.
The iPod docks to a podium that emerges from the bottom of the Zeppelin to hover over its middle. A spring mechanism automatically adjusts the dock so that any model iPod will rest securely against a rubber stop on the back. Unobtrusive buttons for power and volume are embedded in a band behind and just above the dock, but most people will rely on the wireless remote. Composite and S-Video outputs enable you to watch videos on your TV.
Most enclosures in this class are made from simple injection-molded plastic, but the Zeppelin’s shell is fabricated from highly polished stainless steel lined with a thick layer of sound-damping polymer. A pair of 1-inch aluminum-dome tweeters are mounted at each end, along with two 3.5-inch glass-fiber midrange drivers. A 5-inch woofer is mounted in the middle.
An integrated amp delivers 50 watts to the bass speaker and 25 watts to each of the other speakers. Our experience backs B&W’s claim that an onboard digital signal processor automatically adjusts frequency balances in response to volume levels. The Zeppelin delivered more than enough power to fill the 16x12-foot media room we’re now using to test audio products: We experienced chest-thumping bass and crisp highs at all levels while listening to Ben Harper’s “Excuse Me Mr.” (from Fight for Your Mind). If you can swing the fare, the Zeppelin delivers a high-flying audio experience.
The best sound we've heard in an iPod dock; incredible looks.