The latest version of the B&W Zeppelin has Alexa on board

Bowers & Wilkins drew attention when they released the unconventional Zeppelin 15 years ago. The all-in-one German blimp-shaped speaker sounded better than any other in its class and could stream music from your iPod, remember that, while charging. The 2015 model removed the iPod dock, and Apple exclusivity, while adding support for the aptX codec. B&W engineers have returned to the drawing board once again to reimagine the Zeppelin for today’s streaming age.

The shape of the speaker isn’t a gimmick, so B&W didn’t intend to play around with a winning formula, even if they’ve updated all of the components inside. The design places the dual-dome tweeters decoupled from the speaker, the same high-frequency drivers used in the 600 Anniversary series speakers, at the far ends of the cabinet, where they are completely isolated from the vibrations produced by the other larger drivers. .

Black and white zeppelin propulsion units Bowers and Wilkins

The 2021 version of the B&W Zeppelin is equipped with two 25mm tweeters at each end, dual 90mm midrange drivers, and a 150mm bass cone in the middle.

Two 90mm midrange drivers, featuring the company’s Fixed Suspension Transducer (FSTTM) technology, have been brought in from B & W’s Diamond Series 800 floor speakers. Finally, a 150mm bass cone made from a woven composite material, while not B & W’s famous Continuum material, is installed in the very center of the case. Class D amplifiers direct 40 watts to each tweeter, 40 watts to each midrange, and 80 watts to the woofer.

As it did with its driver designs, Bowers & Wilkins also brought in some wireless networking technology from its high-end Formation self-powered loudspeaker series. The Zeppelins operate on a proprietary wireless network that uses spectrum in the 5 GHz frequency range, and B&W says networked speakers will have less than 1 ms latency. A promised firmware update in early 2022 will allow for multi-room scenarios. The new Zeppelin app is also essentially the same that comes with the Formation products. However, the key difference is that you cannot configure two Zeppelins as a stereo pair; there is no in-room radio on board to support such configuration. Zeppelin’s Will, however, they will be able to operate as zones in a Training speaker network once the new firmware is available.

buttons on the B&W zeppelin in midnight gray Bowers and Wilkins

The new Zeppelin has touch-sensitive controls, but you can also control it with a mobile app.

It should come as no surprise that the Zeppelin supports AirPlay 2 and all the latest music streaming services, including Qobuz, Deezer, Last.FM, Soundcloud, and Tidal (though there’s no support for MQA streaming from that latter service). Spotify Connect support is also on board, and B&W says Spotify’s high-resolution streaming tier, Spotify HiFi, will be supported as soon as it’s available. You can also stream music directly from your phone via Bluetooth, with support for the aptX Adaptive codec. When streaming over Wi-Fi, streams with up to 24-bit resolution and sample rates up to 48 kHz are supported.

Finally, the new Zeppelin will be a true smart speaker for the first time in the history of the product line: A set of integrated microphones will support Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant, but the company says it has no plans to also support Google Assistant. .

The new Zeppelin is expected to be available to order in Midnight Gray (dark) or Pearl Gray (light) now, at a retail price of $ 799.

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