Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin review: Beauty and excellence in sound

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Bowers & Wilkins is a well-known and well-respected name in the audio business. The company is on par with the other big-name audiophile brands out there, and for a good reason, they make fine audio products. The company has been making its Zeppelin speaker since 2006, when it was launched as an iPod docking station.

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin name stuck even after iPod docks went the way of the dodo. And so now, out of the ashes, rises a new Zeppelin. This new spawn harkens to its brothers now buried, bringing with it a familiar look but with far more power and capability. Read on for our full review of the 2022 Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Bluetooth speaker.

Specifications

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin has the following features and specifications:

Size & weight

DimensionsHeight: 210mm (8.3 in)
Width: 650mm (25.6 in)
Depth: 194mm (7.6 in)
Net weight6.5kg

Technical details

Technical featuresBowers & Wilkins Music App (with Deezer, Qobuz, and TIDAL support)
Apple AirPlay 2©
Spotify Connect
Bluetooth In
Digital Signal Processing
Dynamic EQ
Drive unitsHF 2x 25mm (1”) Double dome tweeters
MF 2x 90mm (3 1⁄2”) FST midrange
LF 1x 150mm (6”) Subwoofer
Bluetooth5.0
BT CODECsaptX™ Adaptive
AAC
SBC
AirPlay 2 compatibilityiPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with iOS 11.4 or later, Apple TV 4K or Apple TV (4th Generation) with tv OS 11.4 or later, Mac or PC with iTunes 12.8 or later
Inputs2 x XLR
2 x RCA
2 x 3.5mm 12V trigger
RS-232 – 9-pin D connector
Amplifier power output240W
Frequency response35Hz to 24kHz
ConnectionsUSB–C – Service Only
Input voltage100V – 240V, 50/60Hz
Power consumptionBelow 2 Watts (Sleep)

Finishes

FinishesMidnight Grey
Pearl Grey

What’s In The Box

  • Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin
  • Power Cable
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Documentation and Warranty Info
  • Users can download the app for free on Android and iOS

Design

Love the look!

So, I remember the original Zeppelin that was explicitly made to dock an iPod into. That was back in the mid-2000s when iPods were a big deal. I never did get into mp3 players much; I held on to my CDs until streaming services came along.

Still, the Zeppelin demanded the attention of even those of us who had no use for it. Named for its airship-like shape, you couldn’t help but admire the design; in some ways, its design was ahead of its time. Now here we are in 2022, and this new Zeppelin looks nearly identical to its ancestors.

Zeppelin retains that oblong shape it is known for but gives us a few material and aesthetic updates. The front of the speaker is covered in a typical mesh seen on most high-end speakers. The Bowers & Wilkins logo is center bottom, and below that is an LED light bar, this can be turned off in the app.

The speaker is held up by an aluminum foot stand that looks sleek and well built. The stand has a large rubber bottom, which is nice to keep it in place and not damage any surface you place it on.

The rear of the Zeppelin is made of premium plastic that attracts fingerprints. I suppose that’s not a huge deal if you’re not moving it around much. The controls are on the center top of the back. You have a volume up button, play/pause button, multifunction button, Alexa button, and volume down button. I love that these are physical buttons and not capacitive.

The back.

At the bottom of the speaker, integrated into the foot/stand portion, is the reset button, power port, and a USB-C port. I appreciate that the power supply is built into the speaker, allowing for a power cord that does not have a giant power supply. It just keeps everything cleaner and easier to place.

I also appreciate that the Zeppelin is nice to look at. It comes in two colors, Midnight Grey and Pearl Grey. Bowers & Wilkins sent us the Midnight version, but I think the Pearl is a more attractive color. Still, the design of this speaker is sheik and clean and will look great in most decor situations. The company put thought into not only the sound but an excellent aesthetic design.

The speaker is heavy, not heavy enough not to make it moveable, but it has some heft. This isn’t a big issue as this speaker is not designed to be portable. For the most part, you’ll find a home for it, and it will likely stay in one place.

Overall, Bowers & Wilkins did a fantastic job with this version of the Zeppelin. It’s beautifully designed and crafted, and the few complaints I did have are minor.

Ease of Use

Easy to use physical buttons.

Bowers & Wilkins couldn’t have made this easier to use. The quick start guide directs you to download the app and follow the instructions on your screen. Setup is simple; the app will walk you through connecting the Zeppelin to your Wi-Fi network and give you a few options like naming the device and setting up your streaming services. More on the app in the next section.

The app is also straightforward and never gets in the way. I have found that I’m not too fond of some apps that come with speakers; they become too complicated and convoluted with too many options. The Bowers & Wilkins app is streamlined and straightforward.

Overall, this is a straightforward speaker to use. You can connect via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi using AirPlay. I chose to use AirPlay, but I did test via Bluetooth.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin review: Beauty and excellence in sound
Ports and stand

App

As mentioned above, setting the Zeppelin up in the Bowers & Wilkins app is a breeze. Once set up, you can link some of your streaming services to the app. This allows you to use the Bowers & Wilkins app instead of your native streaming app. Here’s the list of apps you can link inside of the app:

  • Deezer
  • TuneIn
  • last.fm
  • Tidal
  • qobuz
  • NTS
  • Soundcloud
  • DASH

Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music are a few missing services. That being said, I’m not one to link my streaming services to another app. I’d rather use the native app and return to the speaker’s app to make any adjustments. Still, for those using other popular streaming services and who want them included, Bowers & Wilkins should consider adding them.

The app does allow control of your music, even when you’re streaming it from the native app. So I can launch Apple Music and then jump into the app and be able to control the music from the app; I simply don’t have access to my playlists and library within the app.

The app also allows for basic treble and bass adjustments. There are no other EQ controls or presets, and I LOVE this. The soundstage of the Zepplin is already nearly perfect; there is no need for an EQ, but they do give you the ability to bump up the bass or treble should you want that.

The app also controls the LED light. You can turn it on or off and control the brightness. You can also restart, or factory reset the Zeppelin within the app.

Zeppelin also has Alexa capability. To activate Alexa, you’ll need to link your Amazon account within the Bowers & Wilkins app. I don’t use a voice assistant, so I opted not to link my Amazon account. Still, if you connect your account, you will have access to all the things Alexa offers. Below you’ll find a list of features you can access using Alexa:

Overall, the app is very straightforward, and I love that it does not get in the way. It gives you only what you need and nothing more.

Sound

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin review: Beauty and excellence in sound
Logo and LED light.

Sound is such a subjective thing, for example. I’m a big fan of a neutral soundstage with a slight bump in the bass frequencies. In contrast, our senior editor Jason Bouwmeester prefers a more bass-heavy soundstage. We have differing tastes in music, and his preferences tend to lean on the use of a lot of bass.

That being said. The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin is very much an audiophile and neutral soundstage-focused speaker. All of the frequencies were balanced. The highs and mids are not fighting for space, and the bass is holding everything up without overpowering anything else.

I would have liked a slight bump in the bass frequencies out of the box, but I can do that within the app if I want it. I listen to different styles of music, and below is my playlist on Apple Music, which I use to test all of the audio products I review.

Alex’s Apple Music Playlist

I felt the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin was balanced and tuned to bring out what the engineer mastered in the recording studio. The clarity is also superb! I listen to a lot of Pink Floyd, and their music has many nuances and small tidbits that can sometimes get lost in muddy and bass-heavy speakers. Not so on the Zeppelin; all of the bits and pieces were there and clear.

The Zeppelin can also get very loud and never break up. Grant it; I don’t listen to heavy bass music, so someone may be able to make it break up with something I don’t listen to. This speaker is loud enough at 60% volume; I didn’t feel the need to go any higher than that. But it is capable.

Overall, the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin has a fantastic soundstage! It handled the music I threw at it like a champ and delivered a neutral and natural soundstage that keeps what the artist and engineer laid out in the recording studio.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin review
Side view.

Price/Value

The MSRP of the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin is US$799. Currently, as of this review, it is on sale on Bowers & Wilkins website for US$699. So yes, this speaker is pricey. But if you know anything about high-end audio, you know that this is a competitive price point for the features and value it offers.

I think the price point matches the value and most users looking at a Bowers & Wilkins speaker are well aware of the prices they charge.

Wrap Up

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin isn’t for everyone, and that will have to do with its price. I get it; not everyone wants to plunk down US$799. But if you’re reading this review, you’re likely aware that Bowers & Wilkins is a premium audio company, and their devices will cost you a bit more.

If you’re looking for an excellent audiophile speaker that looks fantastic and has a natural, precise soundstage, representing the music you are playing through it as intended. Then the Zeppelin is an outstanding choice and highly recommended to those looking in this price range.

Last Updated on May 5, 2022.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin

US$799

Design

10.0/10

Ease of Use

10.0/10

App

9.5/10

Sound

9.5/10

Price/Value

9.0/10

Nailed it

  • Sleek and beautiful
  • Well built and sturdy
  • Premium materials used in construction
  • Easy to setup and use
  • Simple app
  • Amazing and powerful soundstage

Needs work

  • It's a heavy speaker, but to be fair, it's not meant to be portable
  • It's pricey at US$799 but it is priced on par with similar competition
  • The back attracts fingerprints
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