Today we’ve been having a gander at the new B&W Zeppelin Air, complete with Apple AirPlay smarts. This will be the first AirPlay enabled speaker system to make it to market, and today was the first time B&W have shown it off in its full glory.
The B&W Zeppelin Air has beautiful sound, especially coming from such a small unit. The highs are crisp, and the shape of the unit means there’s a real surround sound feel to the system.
Under the hood, it’s all change from the original Zeppelin Air. It’s a full 2.1 system, with five drivers each with a dedicated amplifier, and B&W has added its Flowport technology, which means that the ports have dimples, like golf balls, to minimise “turbulence”, the result being better bass performance.
While we obviously can’t hear what the unit sounds like without the added dimples, we can say that we pushed the volume to its limit (to the annoyance off the rest of the office), and the bass was crisp and smooth at high levels, and at lower levels too. Mid volume performed wonderfully, and brought out the details in sharp relief.
So, onto the AirPlay. It’s easy to set up, and syncing your Zeppelin Air with your devices is doesn’t take much more effort than hooking the Zeppelin Air up to your computer (with an ethernet cable that’s provided in the box) and logging on to your Wi-fi. We hooked up our iPhone just by hooking up to the Wi-fi network.
The devices then find one another on the network, and you can stream to the Zeppelin Air just like that. From an iPad or iPhone though you can’t stream to more than one Zeppelin Air AirPlay speaker at once, but B&W New Media head Brian Devan said this is because while you can stream from your computer to multiple sources, when you go into a room, they considered users to be asking “what content do I want to listen to in this room?”
When AirPlay is available you get a little blue logo in the bottom of your iTunes or iPod. It’s not just limited to iTunes and iPod apps on your iPhone or iPad either. Devan says that in principle anything with a volume control should be able to stream to iTunes. If you’re streaming from an app there should be no problem with compatibility, with Spotify and Last.fm working as seamlessly as the iPod app.It will also work with the iOS YouTube app, although due to the nature of the streaming, the sound and video might not sync exactly.
All volumes and volume bars will also sync, so if you turn down one unit via your computer, that volume reduction will also register and sync with the volume bar on the Apple remote app.
The Zeppelin Air isn’t going to be the only AirPlay enabled unit from B&W. It’s also planning some smaller units, with the Zeppelin Air acting as the main unit, in a living room or bedroom, ad smaller units being available in the future for the kitchen and other rooms in the house.
It will be available from March, and while Apple don’t have an exclusive on the product, Devan expected Apple to have the product a couple of weeks before other stores, simply down to logistical reasons.
Out March | £500 | Apple, B&W
Do you want a B&W Zeppelin Air, or will you wait for cheaper AirPlay products? Shout out in the comments!