B&W blows Air into new Zeppelin iPod dock
By Paul Ridden
January 13, 2011
It's been just over three years since Bowers & Wilkins exploded onto the iPod dock scene with the gorgeous Zeppelin, and now the company is set to stir things up again with the Zeppelin Air. Designed by the same team responsible for the earlier model, the new hopeful retains the eye-pleasing lines of its popular predecessor but its internals have undergone a major overhaul. The new device now benefits from updated and improved speaker drivers, audiophile pleasing digital-to-analog signal conversion and wireless streaming capability courtesy of Apple Air.
The now familiar curves of B&W;'s new Zeppelin Air iPod dock mask a complete internal redesign. There's now more oomph on offer thanks to five updated audiophile-grade proprietary drivers and in-house digital signal processing that's said to result in a large, room-filling, natural sound with a punchy bass presence. Signal clarity gets an assist from the 96kHz/24-bit digital-to-analog converter and the golf ball-like dimpling of the flowports to the rear of the glass fiber filled ABS casing is said to dramatically reduce extraneous noise caused by air movement in and out of the port.
The inclusion of Apple AirPlay technology allows audio from an iTunes library, online music service or media channel to be losslessly streamed from a PC or Mac to a Zeppelin Air from anywhere in the house over the home Wi-Fi network. Settings, such as volume and track selection, are controlled from the computer or remotely via an iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad. The computer can be bypassed altogether and the audio streamed directly from a mobile iOS device, with or without docking.
The docking arm has been updated and there's also USB synching between iOS devices and a computer-based iTunes library and a 24-bit optical input option.
Like other wireless streaming systems, the addition of more Zeppelin's throughout the home makes for a seamless multi-room audio experience. But at US$600 a pop, you'd better start saving up those pennies now.