back to article Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin Air speakers

From a company whose flagship speakers will set you back £18k, but at least you get two of them, B&W’s first iPod dock was met with high expectations when it was released back in 2008. Indeed, the Zeppelin quickly established itself as the model to beat in terms of distinctive styling and sound quality. The latest model is …

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Remote?

Have they improved the remote over the original?

That was an anonymous black on black pebble which was really cheap and nasty to hold and not easy to use without looking at the buttons.

The original works fine with AirPlay if you have an Airport Express - mini TOS from the Airport's optical out to the Zeppelin's optical in. It appears as Airport Express in the drop down menu on iTunes, all you have to do is toggle the Zep until the power light turns green.

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Stop

Proving that for some people, form and style is more important than performance

What, precisely, is the point of buying an audiophile speaker system to listen to heavily compressed MP3s.

It looks impressive, but jesus-on-a-pogo-stick, £500 for an ipod dock? You can't even connect it up to any other sources, so no CD/SACD/Vinyl support, unless you run it over a 3.5mm jack.

World. Gone. Mad.

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Totally agree

I have just purchased a pair of CM9's for my living room (and a couple of Cyrus amps to drive them) and the sound is stunning!

But... I've also had to re-rip my whole CD collection as the new speakers / amps show up all of the faults in the MP3 compression (even at the max bit rate) when comparing it to CD's.

So much so that the iPod has been relegated to the study with our small speakers for background music whilst working. The living room now has FLAC and CD only...

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I don't really want to divert this off into a lossy codec bashing discussion

but can you give me the name of anybody who is able to reliably differentiate between uncompressed audio and even something relatively shonky like 256kbps MP3 in an ABX test? I've never met anybody who can - including somebody who designs theycostHOWmuch??! amps for a living. And I've never seen any evidence on the interwebs of anybody who can either.

I rip stuff lossless just because hard disk space is practically free these days. But I simply don't buy the argument that there's no point using decent gear with compressed audio.

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Depends on the source material (and the MP3 encoding)

Being a recording musician, there are certain circumstances in which I can definitely hear the sonic "artifacts" in an MP3 (especially at around 128Mbps).

It's most obvious to me with instruments like acoustic guitar, especially if the instrument is prominent (and if it's well-recorded, the effect is even more pronounced). You get a kind of "sparkly" distortion which is hard to describe, but I find listening to it irritating at best, and unpleasant at worst. As I like a lot of acoustic guitar recordings, you can see why I might find this a problem.

Admittedly, using a higher bitrate helps (e.g. 320Kbps), but by that stage I see little point in MP3 when FLAC files aren't much larger. I now rip CDs to FLAC, unless there's a good reason for retaining MP3 (usually for portable players lacking FLAC support).

Oh, and the review: for this price, I'd be looking at something like a Sonos system, not an iPod speaker-dock (however fashionable)...

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so dont use compressed mp3s then

now i know apple have been skimpy in recent years on the DAC's in new ipods but for to love of god you dont have to use crappy low bit rate stuff on them, they will support ALAC lossless files.

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Sorry but you can hear a difference.

Having quality equipment, (Quad - Mission) I decided to pop my ipod into the system via a ipod dock, and the quality was not very good. So I re imported all my CD's using the highest quality level on itunes, and still not much better, Flac wont play on ITunes without some doggy conversion but it will play via VLC through my laptop and the sound quality is quite good. But only as acceptable background music, things might change in the future but not yet.

If you have quality equipment you can hear a difference.

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Jobs Halo

Owners of the original version...

... Might want to get an Apple AirPort Express to plug in via the Aux-In, which will give them AirPlay.

I have an Apple TV plugged into my AV Receiver and use AirPlay through that... It works well.

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Unhappy

Disappointed

When I saw zeppelin in the title I thought it would essentially be a speaker mounted on one of those toy flying saucers that you can buy. Never mind :-)

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Compresed Audio? In 2011?

Talking rather the opposite tack to Tom 38 above. Why on earth did the review not also listen to some lossless encoded music. Indeed while would anyone bother to listen to lossy encoding on high quality device. You can use an iPod classic, or stream from iTunes on a Mac or PC, and rip everything lossless. I get 500 CDs on my Classic lossless. It is essentially impossible to buy a disk small enough to justify lossy compression. The only justification is a device with flash memory, and these are either toy music players (i.e. a Nano) or multipurpose device intended to be used upon one's person (i.e. iPhone.) Spending £500 on speakers one would hope might involve thinking about the source enough to use a lossless format. The review could have been better, and more useful for addressing this.

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Lossless + ipod?

I understood it that the DACs in Ipods weren't up to spec for playing lossless anyway? Mind you, I do like B&W (except for this weird-looking egg thing); I got given a pair of '70s era B&Ws about 15 years ago and have loved them dearly ever since.

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Headmaster

Not sure you can blame the DACs

According to this Reg review:

http://www.reghardware.com/2011/01/15/review_arcam_solo_neo/

"the same tracks sounded considerably better when played back from an iPhone connected to the irDock"

In other words, the iPhone DAC & crystal performed better than those in the hi-fi kit.

(although since that is an entirely subjective review, it might just be all in the author's imagination)

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Removable dock?

With all these means for playing music without docking an iPod/iPhone into the unit then surely it would make sense to be able to detach the dock so its not sat there empty and ugly looking? These things are certainly style as well as substance so it seems a shame that the style is ruined when people use any but one of the possible means of music source. I personally think it and many other dock speakers would look immeasurably improved with the dock as hidden as possible despite the obvious possible retort of access to the controls of the player.

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Can you give me a quote for one with the buttugly(tm) option removed?

[letters and that]

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Confused

The review says there is an ethernet port on the back but then you only ever mention WiFi but don't say how to set that up? You then go on to say that anyone spending £500 would go the WiFi route even though it doesn't work very well. Can't help thinking I'd lay a trusty cable 8-)

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