EXCLUSIVE REVIEW: Our verdict on B&W's amazing new Zeppelin iPod dock

We've been inundated with requests for information on B&W's groundbreaking (and gorgeous looking) new Zeppelin iPod dock, so to put you out of your misery, here's our exclusive review in full.

It's the first of many reviews we'll be bringing you on the site in the coming months, as we prepare for the launch of the new-look whathifi.com later this year, which will include our brand-new searchable product database and more than 1000 reviews online, complete with full technical specs and pictures.

So to give you a taste of what's to come, and our verdict on the remarkable Zeppelin, read on...

B&W Zeppelin


5 stars

B&W's remarkable new iPod system is a head-turner in every sense, from its styling to its ambitious price - but the amazing Zeppelin has the ability to match its looks


Extraordinary sonic ability for a one-body system; real scale and weight to its sound; lavish build; stunning styling


Remote ought to offer more functionality for a system this costly


One of the most impressive products we've seen in an age: not cheap, but great to listen to, live with and look at

WE SEE A lot of kit in this office, and a significant proportion of it nowadays is iPod-related ('i-tat' as we sometimes refer to the worst of it). Yet few products have attracted as much attention in recent months as B&W's new Zeppelin. We spent a frustratingly short time with one back in our December issue, but even on the brief listen we had then, we knew B&W was on to something special.

The Zeppelin combines delicious form with serious function. Its sultry, sensuous curves exist not merely because they look nice, but because they also make a real contribution to the sound of the product. Its distinctive elongated shape doesn't just place each drive unit in sensible places for decent stereo sound: it also helps to minimise the cabinet around each drive unit, an approach that improves dispersion.

That's important, because in both quality and quantity of drive units and amplification, this is no ordinary iPod speaker system. If you were able to take a peek under its cloth grille and inspect its drive units, you'd find the Zeppelin is laid out rather like a subwoofer/satellite speaker system.

The control interface is stunning

At its heart, it boasts a dedicated 13cm Kevlar-reinforced bass driver, fed by its own 50w digital power amp. The 9cm midrange drivers (each with 25w of power) are positioned flanking the bass driver, while right at each extreme end of the chassis, there's a single 25mm metal-dome tweeter (again, with 25w per drive unit), as is commonly used in many of B&W's loudspeakers.

By making the chassis ultra-stiff and very heavy - it's a composite mix of polymer and stainless steel, and weighs in at 7kg - this complex arrangement of drive units has a rigid platform to operate from, too. Of course, all that mass adds to the product's upmarket feel, too.

And then there's the stunning control interface, which is - wait for it - your iPod. There's a basic remote, but one of the many touches of genius surrounding the Zeppelin is the tactile, intuitive and alarmingly enjoyable way you use it.

All the key controls - including, so long as you're running the latest version of iTunes, access to bass adjustments to suit different positions within the room - are accessed from your iPod. Just slot it into the beautifully ergonomic arm protruding from the front of the Zeppelin's chassis (the B&W supports iPods back to 3G, though it works best with the latest designs), and you're away.

Sound exceeds all our expectations

And whatever you're playing, you'll be amazed at the Zeppelin's pace, scale, weight, rhythmic ability and timing. Its sense of attack and energy is thrilling, too: you're treated to just the right amount of edge and invective in The Gossip's Standing In The Way of Control, and the B&W remains well in control of the track's driving beat.

Weaknesses? It doesn't image as well as rivals with widely spaced speakers, and the remote ought to offer more at this price. But we're still smitten: in every sense, from style through to build quality and including, most crucially, sound, this is an outstanding achievement.

It's available through B&W dealers and online from John Lewis for £399.


MAX POWER 50w (bass), 2 x 25w (mid), 2 x 25w (treble)

DRIVE UNITS 1 x 13cm (bass), 2 x 9cm (midrange), 2 x 25mm (treble)


DIMENSIONS (HWD) 17 x 64 x 21cm


INPUTS iPod, 3.5mm, USB 2.0

OUTPUTS S-Video, composite video

Technorati Tags: Apple, Bowers & Wilkins, hi-fi, iPhone, iPod, iPod Classic, iPod dock, iPod nano, iPod Touch, iTunes, Kevlar, MP3, MP4, portable speaker, USB

Andy Clough

Andy is Global Brand Director of What Hi-Fi? and has been a technology journalist for 30 years. During that time he has covered everything from VHS and Betamax, MiniDisc and DCC to CDi, Laserdisc and 3D TV, and any number of other formats that have come and gone. He loves nothing better than a good old format war. Andy edited several hi-fi and home cinema magazines before relaunching whathifi.com in 2008 and helping turn it into the global success it is today. When not listening to music or watching TV, he spends far too much of his time reading about cars he can't afford to buy.