Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin review: Does it take-off?

Zeppelin Review
(Image: © iMore)

iMore Verdict

Bottom line: This head-turner isn't just impressive on the outside. It's a powerful speaker that will play your tunes in style for many years to come.

Pros

  • +

    Easy set up

  • +

    Beautiful look

  • +

    Lots of compatibility

  • +

    Future-proof

Cons

  • -

    App is sometimes confusing

  • -

    Price

  • -

    Current software limits

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It's been nearly 15 years since Bowers & Wilkins released its first Zeppelin product. Designed as an iPod dock and speaker, that first Zeppelin was succeeded by the 2011 Zeppelin Air and the 2015 Zeppelin Wireless. The 2021 model, named simply Zeppelin, flew into stores a few months ago. This year's Zeppelin is the best to date; it's also the most expensive at almost $800.

However, you get a lot for the price, including a uniquely designed wireless smart speaker that offers something for Apple and non-Apple users alike, including Apple AirPlay 2, Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, and Spotify Connect. It also works with the free Bowers & Wilkins Music App that operates seamlessly with Deezer, Qobuz, Tune In, Soundcloud, Dash, and TIDAL. There's also Amazon Alexa (but not Apple Siri) built-in. This app also works with other products such as the Bowers & Wilkins P17 in-ear headphones, which we gave four stars.

So is this the best all-in-one wireless speaker system on the market to date? Let's take a look.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin: Price and availability

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin wireless speaker is available at most retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, and more. Separately, you can buy a Zeppelin Wall Bracket ($100) through the Bowers & Wilkins website. Since launching in October 2021, the speaker has not been discounted at Amazon or other retailers that typically offer price breaks on electronics. It retails for $799 and is available in midnight gray or pearl gray.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin: Uniquely designed, easy setup, and more to come in '22

Bowers Wilkins Zeppelin 2021 Review Hero

Bowers Wilkins Zeppelin 2021 Review Hero (Image credit: Bryan M. Wolfe / iMore)

There's nothing like the Zeppelin on the market with a look you won't find on any other wireless speaker. That look is the speaker's biggest strength after its impressive sound.

Measuring 26-by-7-by-7 inches, and weighing 16.1 pounds, this speaker is a beast. Like previous Zeppelins, the elliptical speaker features a fabric-covered grille on the front with a more plastic-like smooth material on the back. If you look carefully, the speaker angles ever-so-slightly forward for a unique effect. It's one enhanced by an ambient light that emits from the bottom of the device between it and the attached wide metallic base when the speaker is on. The speaker has a rubber pad on the bottom to support it.

The combination is a nice touch, especially in a dark room, as it makes the speaker look like it's rising off the ground like an actual Zeppelin. You can turn the light off (or adjust the brightness) using the Bowers & Wilkins Music App.

The combination is a nice touch, especially in a dark room; it makes the speaker look like it's rising off the ground like an actual Zeppelin.

There's a control strip with buttons for volume, pause/play, and activating Alexa on the speaker's back. The latter isn't necessary as you can simply use your voice to use the assistant, but the button is helpful nonetheless as a way to deactivate Alexa on the fly for downtime security. There's also a multi-room audio control button to use with Bowers & Wilkins' Formation multi-room set-up. Unfortunately, the capabilities aren't yet activated, but should be with a firmware update expected to arrive sometime in 2022.

You won't find a power button on the Zeppelin. This makes sense when you consider the speaker turns on automatically once you send audio through your iPhone or another device.

Zeppelin Controls Bw

Zeppelin Controls Bw (Image credit: Bowers & Wilkins)

Inside are two double dome tweeters that measure just under an inch, 3.5-inch FST 40-watt midrange drivers, and a 5-inch 80-watt subwoofer. The 240-watt amplifier delivers a frequency range of between 35Hz to 24kHz. This allows the Zeppelin to pack a significant punch that can fill an entire room without ever crackling in the sound. The speaker also does a terrific job at lower sound levels when you're looking to create a more intimate environment.

As wireless streaming audio products have matured, so has the increased use of companion apps. Besides offering a quicker way to set up new speakers and headphones, these apps make it possible to install software updates and make slight adjustments to the sound experience. The Bowers & Wilkins Music App does all this and morefor the Zepplin. The app makes setting up the speaker quick and easy. Adjusting the speaker's treble and bass EQ is also a simple process, as is changing its ambient light mentioned.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin: More high-res, please

Bowers Wilkins App

Bowers Wilkins App (Image credit: iMore)

The Zeppelin is a very good product. However, to become a great product, the folks over at Bowers & Wilkins need to get moving and add more hi-res audio support. To date, the only way to listen to hi-res audio through the Zeppelin is by subscribing to Qobuz. Don't misunderstand, Qobuz is an excellent streaming service and one you should sample using the free one-month trial you can receive through iTunes, but for a speaker this expensive, there need to be more options.

Bowers & Wilkins does promise more are coming, however. In a note to iMore, Bowers & Wilkins explained it plans to support TIDAL Masters (with MQA) and Amazon HD within six months. App support for regular Amazon Music and Pandora should arrive no later than February. Spotify Hi-Fi, when released, will also be supported.

Beyond this, there's little not to like about the latest Zeppelin. It's a beautifully designed speaker that should give any owner years of enjoyment.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin: Competition

Naim Mu-so QB V2

Naim Mu-so QB V2 (Image credit: Bryan M. Wolfe / iMore)

Back in 2020, I had the opportunity to temporarily enjoy the Naim Mu-so Qb V2 Multi-Room Wireless Music System in my home. Though the experience never translated into a review at iMore, this incredible device is a worthy competitor to the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin. It also offers a unique design and hi-res goodness. Price-wise, however, it's a little bit more than the Zeppelin.

On the other end of the pricing spectrum, consider the Audio Pro Addon C3. The compact speaker offers hi-fidelity sounds, Apple AirPlay, Amazon Alexa, Spotify Connect, and more for much less than the Zeppelin at around $330. It also has a unique look.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin: Should you buy it?

You should buy this if ...

  • You like the look
  • Price isn't a factor
  • You're already impressed with Bowers & Wilkins

You shouldn't buy this if...

  • Price is a concern
  • You want more hi-res choices
  • Size is a significant factor

Bowers & Wilkins has hit a home run with its latest Zeppelin speaker. From its now-iconic look to its broad range of music services it already supports, it's a terrific product that will undoubtedly get better once a few software updates come its way. Because of the expectations and already-packed featured set, the Zeppelin scores five stars in this review.

If you love the look of the Bowers & Wilkin Zeppelin, you'll be happy to know the insides are just as impressive. If the look is one you can do without, look elsewhere.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.