You’ll find a lot of changes in this, the third generation of full-sized Zeppelin speakers, and one thing that hasn’t: This speaker delivers an impeccable audio performance.
So what has changed? The missing docking port is the most obvious. On the upside, losing the dock makes the cigar-shaped speaker look prettier than ever. On the downside, you can no longer use it to charge your iPhone or iPod or sync those devices to your iTunes library.
In other big news, the Zeppelin’s appeal is no longer limited to Apple users: It now supports Bluetooth streaming, complete with support for the excellent AptX codec, and Spotify Connect. More on those fronts later.
You’ll still see a hardwired ethernet port, along with a 3.5mm auxiliary input, but the new model has shed its USB-B port. That means it can’t be used as a USB audio device with a Mac or PC. And the composite video output has disappeared, so you can’t hook it up to your TV to watch movies (which makes sense, since you can’t dock anything to it). But I’m willing to bet very few people used those features anyway, especially in the wake of streaming boxes like the Apple TV.
You’ll find most of the rest of the improvements under the hood, as Bowers & Wilkins says nearly every aspect of the Zeppelin Wireless has been redesigned and re-engineered. The enclosure houses two 25mm “double-dome” tweeters. A B&W spokesperson said this design—a thin aluminum dome for lightness, surrounded by a thicker aluminum ring to increase rigidity—was brought over from the company’s CM-series loudspeakers. Engineers cribbed from B&W’s 800-series Diamond speakers to build the two 90mm mid-range drivers. And then they stuffed a larger, 150mm long-throw subwoofer inside for good measure.
Bowers & Wilkins brought some technology from its high-end loudspeakers to the new Zeppelin Air, including the design of its two 90mm mid-ranges.
Each driver is powered by a dedicated Class D amplifier that sends 25 watts to each tweeter and midrange and 50 watts to the sub. As with previous generations, the new Zeppelin Wireless is outfitted with both a DSP (digital signal processor) and DAC (digital to analog converter), but these components are now much more powerful. The DAC upsamples all audio inputs to 24-bit resolution and a 192kHz sampling rate to reduce aliasing when the signals are converted back to analog.
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