Zeppelin Stories November 3, 2015

I don’t envy any vendor of legitimately premium audio accessories made for Apple’s devices. After established audio companies including Bose, Klipsch, and Bowers & Wilkins demonstrated that Apple device owners were willing to pay $300, then $400, then $600 for all-in-one speaker systems with increasingly better sound quality, Beats by Dre materialized, hooking people on expensive, stylish, and sonically underwhelming alternatives. Between Beats and the Bluetooth revolution, it seems clear that the speaker market is all about flash and convenience rather than audio quality… right?

Of course not. There have always been low-end, mid-range, high-end, and ultra-premium audio options; Beats has succeeded at capturing (a lot of) low- to mid-priced customers. By comparison, the respected British speaker maker Bowers & Wilkins focuses on the upper end of the scale. It literally established the high-end Apple speaker category with its original Zeppelin back in 2007, then refreshed it with AirPlay support as Zeppelin Air in 2011.

Now that another four years have passed, B&W has returned with another “even better” sequel: Zeppelin Wireless ($700). Having spent years touting its atypically upscale design and components as alternatives to low-fidelity speakers, the company is offering a compromise to broaden the new Zeppelin’s appeal. Despite packing speaker and amplifier hardware that’s in the same league as B&W’s $800 A7, Zeppelin Wireless includes a key feature — Bluetooth — only found in its entry-level $350 model T7. But the new Zeppelin still has AirPlay, for those who care, as well as Spotify Connect. So while the price tag may limit the number of people who can afford this new all-in-one speaker, its feature set has broad appeal…

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Zeppelin Stories October 8, 2015

Bowers & Wilkins, maker of the iconic Zeppelin speaker and its AirPlay sequel Zeppelin Air, today announced an upgraded model with even more horsepower and features: Zeppelin Wireless ($700). The original $600 Zeppelin redefined “high-end iPod speakers” at a time when Bose and Klipsch had established a $300 to $400 price ceiling, successfully upping the ante in both sound quality and industrial design.

Zeppelin Wireless retains B&W’s classic elongated football shape and five-speaker concept, but now relies entirely on wireless streaming for audio, boasting Bluetooth aptX, AirPlay, and Spotify Connect support. Backed by 150 Watts of amplifier power, a new twice-as-powerful digital signal processor upsamples all inputs to 24-bit/192kHz resolution, promising to deliver greater accuracy, lower noise, and enhanced dynamic range through an audiophile-quality DAC. The speakers and enclosure have been upgraded, as well…

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