When you make speakers that would be more at home on the set of Aliens than your average three-bed semi, your iPod speaker is going to look a bit different, but can the Zeppelin from Bowers & Wilkins offer more than just interesting looks? We get listening to find out.
Looking like a Zeppelin airship from the 1930s, the weighty speaker system is covered in the same cloth that you used to find on your hi-fi speakers giving it a matt texture rather than one of glossy bling.
The cloth is broken by a single silver strip dividing the speakers, which also houses the on/off switch and a volume controls.
Hovering in front of the speaker system on its own silver plinth is the iPod cradle. Designed to take all sizes of the Apple music player, a slightly flexible base means that smaller thinner players won't look out of place and are held snugly in place against the rubber covered stand plate at the rear.
The whole speaker system sits on a rubber mat presumably to reduce resonance from whatever surface it is standing on.
Around the back there are a handful of connections: Composite, USB, S-Video and AUX for those wanting to connect it to a device other than the iPod or to a PC/Mac for transferring songs to and from the iPod.
Video is also catered for, as the Zeppelin supports the streaming of images to any screen from an appropriately equipped iPod.
Once turned on the only way you'll know is a rather oddly placed light that glows from the speaker. It's a strange place to put it and it’s slightly off-putting.
Included in the box is the standard remote control that allows you basic playback controls as well as the ability to switch the input. For once the remote actually looks the part rather than something that has come straight out of a Chinese knocking shop and it's shaped like a pebble to give you some sense of belonging to the Zeppelin.
When it comes to performance, the Zeppelin works hard to justify its £400 price tag, providing a loud but clear sound.
The performance is thanks to Zeppelin’s midrange driver and tweeters, which have been derived directly from those in B&W’s Mini Theatre. You'll also get an internal subwoofer driver, centrally located in the deepest part of the Zeppelin’s enclosure. Powering the drive units are three Class D amplifiers (25 watts for left, 25 watts for right, and 50 watts for bass).
In our tests we listened to a range of music from dance to classical, and a bass test designed to test the capabilities of your system's subwoofer to the extreme.
In all cases the sound was impressive, however it is worth noting at full volume (probably too loud to listen to in your home, our neighbour four houses down the road could also hear it perfectly) the bass made a flapping noise as air rushed out. That said you are unlikely to get beyond the half way mark on the volume knob and so this flapping shouldn't really be an issue.
If you are looking to bring down the house with noise, as well as have something very retro-cool sitting on your sideboard that is likely to get plenty of comments, the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin is a thing of beauty both in looks and sound.
Just make sure you're on good terms with your neighbours.
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