Bowers & Wilkins has announced a new Zeppelin speaker that updates the eye-catching design with modern connectivity and smarts. The new speaker supports wireless standards like Qualcomm’s AptX Adaptive and Apple’s AirPlay 2 and also has Alexa built-in for voice control of your music. The new Zeppelin is available to order in light or dark grey starting 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’s been updated several times over the years as the way we listen to music has changed. 2011’s Zeppelin Air added support for Apple’s AirPlay standard alongside its existing 30-pin dock, while the 2015 Zeppelin Wireless dropped the dock entirely to focus on wireless connectivity using standards like AptX Bluetooth or Spotify Connect (although it kept a 3.5mm input around as a wired option).
With the new 2021 Zeppelin, however, B&W has gone fully wireless. Around its back, there’s a socket for power and a USB-C port, but the latter is only there for servicing rather than connecting a music source. Instead, the Zeppelin supports a full suite of wireless standards, including AAC, SBC, and AptX Adaptive Bluetooth codecs (but no AptX Lossless), AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, and B&W’s own Music app, which offers support for streaming services like Deezer, Qobuz, and Tidal. There’s no Chromecast support built-in, nor is Google Assistant available alongside Alexa.
If you’d like to use the Zeppelin as part of a multi-room setup, then B&W says it plans to add support early next year. When it’s released, the feature will let users pair multiple Zeppelins together with B&W’s existing line of connected Formation speakers together. Alternatively, if you’re on iOS, you should be able to achieve a similar setup thanks to Zeppelin’s support for AirPlay 2. Just don’t expect to be able to pair two Zeppelins together as a stereo pair; B&W says the multi-room functionality is designed for each Zeppelin to offer stereo sound by itself.
Internally, the new Zeppelin has a pair of one-inch tweeters, two 3.5-inch mid-range drivers, and a single six-inch subwoofer powered by a total of 240W of amplification. Although there’s no remote like with previous Zeppelins, there’s a set of physical playback controls on the rear of the speaker (but there’s no physical off switch for Alexa).
In the era of iPod docks, the Zeppelin was one of the most desirable all-in-one speakers on the market. But in the years since, it feels like Bowers & Wilkins has lost ground to the likes of Sonos and Amazon as multi-room audio and smart speakers have taken over, respectively. With the new Zeppelin, I’m sure the company is hoping to reverse that trend.