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Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin
iPod dock with a hefty price tag
- Powerful bass, rich mid-range, funky design, lots of connectivity
- Expensive, shrill highs
The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin is an impressive but extremely expensive iPod speaker system.
Price$ 999.00 (AUD)
After an awfully long time, Bose has finally been dethroned as the company with the most expensive iPod dock we've ever looked at. And it's been dethroned in spectacular fashion. With an RRP exactly double that of the Bose SoundDock, the Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin will certainly set you back a pretty penny. While we can't say it is really worth the price tag, it is a very solid system in terms of sound. If you have a spare grand burning a hole in your pocket and want something with style and substance, this unit isn't a bad choice.
With a cylindrical design that narrows at both ends, this is a modern, suave-looking system. We really liked how minimalist it was, with a simple jutting dock to attach your iPod, and a simple strip of controls down the middle of the otherwise entirely black fascia.
This rounded design also helps with the sound, giving the Zeppelin a room-filling quality. Audio was bouncing around us from all directions, and although it did sound a little airy at times, everything was incredibly well separated. All the individual music elements were strong and distinct, and the unit delivered exceptional volume.
Bass performance was pretty impressive. It wasn't particularly tight and well controlled, but it did have both power and detail. Low register notes extended very deeply and had vibrancy and impact without getting too bloated or distorted. The bass was the most notable element of the sound, but thankfully it didn't overshadow the other registers.
We found the mid-range to be rich and sweet, although at times it was a little gritty. There were portions of some heavy guitar riffs that showed hints of distortion, but it wasn't too problematic and can at least partially be put down to music compression. Detail levels were good, with everything well rendered — the gritty sound had a particularly nice effect on guitar strings, giving them a visceral twang.
However, it was guitar strings that also revealed our main issue with the Zeppelin. Notes towards the higher parts of the treble register were quite tinny and harsh. Sounds like acoustic guitars and chimes were the worst offenders, with an overly bright, slightly biting sound. It was far from a deal-breaker, but we definitely prefer the smoother highs of some competing systems.
Running along the back of the Zeppelin are the connectivity ports, which include an auxiliary connection for other MP3 players, as well as Composite, S-Video and USB. It comes with a funky looking, egg-shaped remote control, but this has little in the way of features apart from basic playback controls. There are no bass or treble adjustments via the buttons themselves, but if you delve into the iPod menu there are dedicated options here seperate from the Apple EQ should you wish to tweak the sound.
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