Bowers & Wilkins have announced a new Zeppelin speaker that updates the eye-catching design with modern connectivity and intelligence. The new speaker supports wireless standards such as Qualcomm’s AptX Adaptive and Apple’s AirPlay 2 and also integrates Alexa for voice control of your music. The new Zeppelin is available to order in light gray or dark gray from today and is priced at $ 799 / £ 699 / € 799.
The original Zeppelin was one of the most iconic iPod docks available when it launched in 2007, and it has been updated several times over the years as the way we listen to music has changed. The 2011 Zeppelin Air added support for Apple’s AirPlay standard alongside its existing 30-pin docking station, while the 2015 Zeppelin Wireless ditched the dock entirely to focus on wireless connectivity using standards such as AptX Bluetooth or Spotify Connect (although it retained a 3.5mm input as a wired option).
With the new Zeppelin 2021, however, B&W has gone completely wireless. Around its back is a socket for power and a USB-C port, but the latter is only there for maintenance rather than connecting a music source. Instead, the Zeppelin supports a full suite of wireless standards, including AAC, SBC, and AptX (but not AptX Lossless) adaptive Bluetooth codecs, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, and B & W’s own music app, which supports streaming services like Deezer, Qobuz, and Tidal. There is no Chromecast built-in support, and Google Assistant is not available with Alexa.
If you want to use the Zeppelin as part of a multi-room setup, B&W says it plans to add support early next year. When released, the feature will allow users to pair multiple Zeppelins with B&W’s existing line of connected Formation speakers. Alternatively, if you’re on iOS, you should be able to achieve a similar setup thanks to Zeppelin’s support for AirPlay 2. Don’t expect to be able to pair two Zeppelins together as a stereo pair; B&W says the multi-room feature is designed so that each Zeppelin delivers stereo sound on its own.
Internally, the new Zeppelin has a pair of one-inch tweeters, two 3.5-inch mid-range speakers, and a single six-inch subwoofer powered by a total of 240W of amplification. While there is no remote control like with previous Zeppelins, there is a set of physical playback controls on the back of the speaker (but there is no physical stop switch for Alexa).
In the age of iPod docking stations, the Zeppelin was one of the most sought-after all-in-one speakers on the market. But in the years since, it seems Bowers & Wilkins have lost ground to Sonos and Amazon as multi-room audio and smart speakers have taken over, respectively. With the new Zeppelin, I’m sure the company hopes to reverse this trend.