Bowers & Wilkins' Zeppelin is undoubtedly the world's most iconic iPod speaker. Every one of its rivals, from the high end of the market downward, looks pretty much how you'd expect an iPod speaker to look. Not so the elongated ovoid that is the Zeppelin. Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin Mini B&W's Zeppelin Mini: not quite as iconic …
Why do these high endish products exist? It's playing some crappy ~160kbs audio file at the end of the day with masses of compression. No amount of quality speaker can make up for a poor source!
"It's playing some crappy ~160kbs audio file"
Or it could equally well be playing an Apple Lossless file.
Not that I'd have one. At least not until iTunes will work with the hundreds and hundreds of CDs that I ripped to FLAC format..
For a start there's this thing called lossless compression (Apple lossless supports up to 24bits per sample at 192kbps - which is DVD Audio quality).
Regardless, in the general scheme of things £300 isn't all that much for an amp and speakers - a high quality MP3 (256kbps or greater) is plenty good enough to sound excellent in most listening conditions.
I'm tempted to agree but...
If that should be the case, why have Linn (who I believe to be a purveyor of high-end audio equipment) decided to bring out a range of audio streamers?
any decent AV amp can sort that out. my denon and my old yamaha are awesome at making mp3s sound like real cds. very little difference. in fact many CDs dont sound as good as a descent cd that has been ripped. i must asdmit though, for 300 notes a mini hifi and ipod dock would be a much better solution as the soundstage must be small
i only buy 320kbps mp3s or make them at that compression level.
Nul points, certainly...
Would it be too big a leap of imagination to consider that, if someone is the sort of person willing to drop that much money on an iPod accessory (*), they might also be the sort of person who loads up their iPod with high-bitrate files they've ripped themselves because they value quality over quantity?
* not that the Zeppelin Mini is just a somewhat beautifully engineered but wallet-bashingly expensive iPod dock - it's really more of a high quality external speaker/amp combo which just happens to provide iPod support in addition to the variety of other audio sources it can be driven from.
I heard that the first version of this always tried to auto sync whenever you plugged an iPod into it. If the iPod was not synced with the PC plugged into the Zepplin, it cause all sorts of problems. Has this been fixed?
I also heard that the Zeplin shows up on the PC as a USB connected audio output, so you can play audio from a PC (without a headphone out). Can you comment on this?
i have a B&W 684 theatre (bough last month!) i have to say B&Ws build quality and speakers are excellent (although this wouldnt sound anywhere near as good as a proper hifi/home cinema setup). plus aesthetically they are really nice products. i just dont see the point in these little players. that would only be any good in a small childs bedroom/kitchen and you would have no real soundstage due to the speakers being so close. its just an expensive ghetto blaster really isnt it?
it's called bassreflex :)
"The sound is generated by a pair of front-facing full-range speakers which also produce the bass output that's ported through the back of the Mini to reflect back off whatever is placed behind the unit."
I was expecting a model airship! I don,t think this thing will ever get off the ground!
"pristine digital data"
I'm not sure you can describe heavily-compressed MP3 audio as 'pristine'. Doubtless B&W can make a better job of decoding it than Apple, but silk purses and sow's ears come to mind.
Lest you think me biased, I speak as one who has had a set of B&W DM4's for over 30 years - I might even still have the frequency response charts that they used to provide with every speaker!
Generic MP3 player
This sounds like another iWhatnot only piece of kit. I'd be interested to know how much of the MP3 player market Apple has cornered. I assume it's most of it...
So, anyone know if there are any docks out there that work with other players, like my loverly Sansa jobby ?
Speak for yourself, my iPod is full of 320kbs files.
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Yes, but, and here's the important thing - I'd rather pay the £50 extra not to buy a Bose - I've had three, and sent them all back - for not charging, a high pitch whistle when charged, and one that just had a really bad case of the 50Hz Choir.
My Sony mini hi-fi with iPod connector does a much better job.
No Highs, No Lows, it must be Bose
Bring Other Sound Equipment.
Have you heard the Bose 302's? They are the nastiest subs money can buy. They know only one note no what the input and manage to turn that into the sound of a large mammal farting. Horrid things which very much put me off their domestic offerings.
Bose 302s & 802s
I used to use a pair of Bose 302s plus 2 to 4 pairs of 802s. You need to run the active EQ with them. I thought that they were not too bad, especially for the size / weight to carry around.
The 802s also did a reasonable job by themselves in the bay window of my student house, hidding behind the curtains :)
I've not been impressed with some of their most recent stuff, but then I've also heard great and bad things from many other middle range brands (wharfedale, mission, KEF, Junk But Loud...)
For me the best feature is that I can connect it to the USB on my laptop or desktop and it becomes a USB Speaker, so I get all my properly encoded lossless stuff that doesn't fit on my iphone.
Lovely bit of kit, firmware update doesn't work in Windows 7 though which is a bit irritating.
@ Citizen Kaned
whatever your denon or yamaha is doing with mp3s is not real. mp3 is lossy compression that's why you can't rebuild lost data. what your denon/yamaha does is upsampling and it tries to re-create something what's missing by inserting missing data - therefore it's not real it's fake sound - way to go is lossless compression, Flac or apple lossless, i use only apple lossless on my iphone and all my music collection is ripped in lossless (used to use FLAC but apple doesn't play FLAC - shame). Agree with others regarding Bose - can't stand their overpriced equipment. I've been in Hi-Fi/High End for almost 10 years selling them and comparing them and was writing for a small Hi-Fi magazine. This device is 'dock' edition similar to others on the market with B&W's technologies used (flow port on bass reflex) and others. Haven't heard it myself but i'm pretty sure it sounds good if you feed it with good source.
If you want good rips on win check EAC - Exact Audio Copy, as far as i'm aware it's only for Win, you can rip to both, FLAC and Apple lossless.
yeah i know....
but you cant deny the improvement. plus on the denon you have 3 'restore' settings that you can pick and choose from. i know its fake, but its a bloody good fake lol.
The article said "the Mini grabs tracks from the player's storage and through the dock connector entirely bypassing Apple's digital-to-analogue converter chippery."
Well if my (very unscientific) tests are anything to go by then the B&W engineers are right on the money. Tried the same "high quality" (no flaming please) MP3 album on my old 5th Gen iPod v's a 1st and 2nd Gen iPod Touch and it was quite a surprise - basically the newer the device the worse the sound! The old iPod made the Touch's sound tinny and overly processed/compressed - and that's to my old ears.
A quick search of t'net shows that other folks have come across the same problem. In which case, what's up with the iPod design teams these days - are they so focussed on trying to shoehorn "gee-whiz" features into the devices that they've forgotten that they're supposed to be _music players_ so sound quality is - to be polite - quite important?
Looks like a good device - trouble is that the Zep is just sooo desirable (makes a helluva talking point at parties I would guess). Definitely steals a march from B&O.
Bose all the way...
Whenever I have friends round they comment on the quality of sound my original Bose SoundDock puts out. I always take it on holiday, it moves from room to room and the garden in the Summer. Never had any issues with it, only when i jumped into a pool with the remote, however that only cost me £8 to renew.
If you want a portable speaker for your ipod, I would recommend Bose.
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