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Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin 2021 Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Aug 10, 2022 at 10:38 am
Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin 2021 Picture
7.5
Music
7.4
Videos/Movies
6.4
Podcasts
8.7
Voice Assistant
5.6
Outdoors
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
Yes
Speakerphone
No
Voice Assistant
Yes
Battery Powered
No

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin 2021 is a large, smart home speaker with a unique zeppelin-like design meant to be a focal point in your home decor. It has a metal base, and there's a purple LED light underneath the speaker that gives the impression that it's hovering. It has Alexa built-in, and you can connect its companion app with music streaming apps like Deezer, SoundCloud, and Tidal.

Our Verdict

7.5 Music

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin 2021 is good for music. It has a balanced sound profile, making it suitable for listening to a wide variety of audio content, and there's a bit of warmth and boom in the high-bass range. There are bass and treble adjustments in its companion app, meaning you can customize its sound to your liking. However, it lacks low bass, so you can't feel the deep thump and rumble in bass-heavy music like EDM or hip-hop. That said, the speaker gets loud enough to fill large spaces with sound without much compression at max volume, so audio quality remains clean and clear-sounding when you bump up the volume and doesn't degrade when it's maxed out. Its soundstage is also wide and immersive-sounding.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
  • Little compression present at max volume.
  • Bass/treble adjustments.
  • open and spacious soundstage.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • Not very portable.
  • Doesn't connect with other speakers.
7.4 Videos/Movies

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin 2021 is decent for watching videos and movies. Its balanced sound profile ensures voices and dialogue in your videos and movies sound clear and present in the mix. However, while there's some warmth and boom in the high-bass range, it lacks low-bass, so you can't feel the deep thump and rumble typically present in action-packed scenes. It gets quite loud, and its soundstage is perceived as wide and immersive-sounding. It has low Bluetooth latency with Android devices, so there aren't any syncing issues between the audio you hear and the visuals on your screen. While its Bluetooth latency performance isn't as great with iOS devices, it has low latency via Apple AirPlay, so you don't have many syncing issues over this connection. It's important to note that it isn't designed for use as a soundbar. If your TV is Bluetooth compatible, you can connect it to it. That said, there are no ports like an optical or HDMI port to wire it to your TV.

Pros
  • Low Bluetooth latency with Android devices.
  • Low Apple AirPlay latency.
  • open and spacious soundstage.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • No Google Chromecast compatibility.
  • High Bluetooth latency with iOS devices.
6.4 Podcasts

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin 2021 is alright for podcasts. It has a balanced overall sound profile, so voices and dialogue in your podcasts and audiobooks reproduce clearly and accurately in the mix. It also gets quite loud with little compression present at max volume, so you can still hear your podcasts clearly from across the room. However, it's designed to remain in one place, and needs to remain plugged into a power outlet to work, so you can't easily move it with you from room to room. It also doesn't connect to other speakers, so you can't continue to listen to your audio on a different speaker when you change rooms.

Pros
  • Little compression present at max volume.
  • Bass/treble adjustments.
  • open and spacious soundstage.
Cons
  • Not very portable.
  • Can only connect to one device at once.
  • Doesn't connect with other speakers.
8.7 Voice Assistant

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin 2021 offers excellent voice assistant support. This home speaker comes with Alexa built-in, which you can activate with your voice. It can register your commands even when you're far away or in a noisy room. You can also mute its mic when you no longer want it listening to you. It has decent directivity, meaning you can hear your assistant's voice clearly from most angles. It also gets quite loud, so you can still hear Alexa from far away.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
  • open and spacious soundstage.
  • Alexa built-in.
Cons
5.6 Outdoors

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin 2021 isn't designed for use outdoors.

  • 7.5 Music
  • 7.4 Videos/Movies
  • 6.4 Podcasts
  • 8.7 Voice Assistant
  • 5.6 Outdoors
  1. Updated Aug 10, 2022: Review published.
  2. Updated Aug 05, 2022: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights No

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin 2021 is a home speaker that, as its name suggests, is designed to look like a hovering zeppelin. It's fairly large, has a sleek overall look, and is meant to be a focal point in your home decor. It also has a purple ED light at its base that makes it look as though the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin speaker is levitating. If the Midnight Grey color isn't quite your style, you can also find it in Pearl Grey.

3.0
Design
Portability
Volume
1,602 in³ (26,251 cm³)
Weight
16.1 lbs (7.3 kg)
Power Source
AC Only
One-Hand Carry
No

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin 2021 isn't designed to be portable. It needs to remain plugged into a power outlet to work, and its large and heavy design doesn't make it easy to transport with you.

6.7
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Great
Water Resistance
No
Dust Resistance
No
Impact Resistance
Unspecified
Floats In Water
No

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin wireless speaker's build quality is alright. Overall, it has a solid and sturdy build with fabric that tightly covers the front of the speaker. The speaker sits on a metal stand, and there's an LED light underneath the speaker that makes it look like it's hovering. You can enable and disable this light in the app. Its texturized controls are atop the speaker towards the rear, so you have to stand over the speaker to see them. Its power port is also on its rear. Since it doesn't come with an IP rating for water and dust resistance, it's best to avoid using it around water sources, like on your kitchen counter.

6.9
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Great
Feedback
Good
Music Play/Pause
Yes (Physical)
Call Answer/End
No
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Physical)
Track Next/Previous
Yes (Physical)
Microphone On/Off
No
Additional Controls
Yes

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin 2021 has a fair selection of easy-to-use, standard controls. You can press the + and - buttons to control its volume. You can also double-press the play/pause button to skip to your next track and triple-press it to backtrack. There's a voice assistant button you can press and hold to mute the speaker's mic when you no longer want Alexa to listen to you. There's also a multi-function button you can press and hold to enable Bluetooth pairing, which causes its indicator light to pulse blue. Unfortunately, it's unclear what other uses the multifunction button has aside from Bluetooth pairing, and the manufacturer doesn't provide much guidance regarding its controls. They may assign it other functionalities in future firmware updates, though this remains unconfirmed by the manufacturer. That said, the multifunction button's indicator light flashes white when the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin speaker is plugged in, and pulses yellow when it's ready for setup.

Design
In The Box

  • Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin 2021
  • Power cable
  • Quick Start guide and Safety Warranty guide

Sound
7.3
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
0.23
Std. Err.
2.76 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
51.9 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
19.1 kHz

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin 2021 has a decent frequency response accuracy. It has a neutral sound profile overall, making it suitable for listening to a wide variety of audio content. The overemphasis in the high bass adds a bit of extra warmth to the bass. The rest of the range is pretty balanced, so vocals and lead instruments reproduce clearly and accurately in the mix. It lacks low-bass, so you can't feel the deep thump and rumble in bass-heavy music like hip-hop or EDM. If you like to having more control over your speaker's sound, you can use the bass and treble adjustments featured in its companion app to tweak its sound to your liking.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
7.9
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
3.98 dB
Stereo
Yes

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin 2021 has a good soundstage. It can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono. It means instruments and sound effects in your audio are localized to a pinpoint location, so if you play a song that normally has the keyboard on the left and the guitar on the right, it emits the keyboard sounds from the left side of the speaker and the guitar sounds from the right. It also has decent directivity, so the speaker projects audio in a way that its soundstage is perceived as spacious and open-sounding. As a result, your audio sounds the same when you listen from different angles, like when you listen from behind the speaker.

8.1
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
96.2 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
1.61 dB

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin 2021 has a very good dynamics performance. It gets loud enough to fill a large room with sound, and there's little compression present at max volume, so your audio doesn't degrade much as you bump up the volume.

Active Features
0
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
N/A
Charge Time
N/A
Power Saving
No
Charging Port
No Battery

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin 2021 needs to be wired to a power source for it to work and doesn't operate on battery power. There also isn't a power-saving mode.

9.4
Active Features
Voice Assistant
Alexa
Built-in (Wi-Fi Only)
Google Assistant
No
Siri
No
Voice Activation
Yes
Microphone Mute
Yes
Far-Field Performance
Excellent
Ambient Noise Performance
Great

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin smart speaker has a fantastic voice assistant performance. It comes with Alexa built-in, which you can activate with your voice. It has little trouble understanding your commands when you're far away and in noisier rooms. You can also mute its mic when you no longer want it listening to you.

4.4
Active Features
App
App Name
Bowers & Wilkins Music
iOS
Yes
Android
Yes
EQ
Bass/Treble
Stereo Pair Mode
No
Party Mode
No
Multi-Room
No

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin 2021's Bowers & Wilkins app doesn't offer many features. It's compatible with iOS and Android devices, and there are bass and treble adjustments you can use to tweak its sound to your liking. You can also use the app to access music streaming services like Deezer and Tidal, though you need a separate subscription for some of them. That said, you can't use it to pair the speaker to other compatible speakers to create a stereo pair or to amplify your audio across larger areas. You also can't pair the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin wireless speaker with other speakers to listen to different audio in different rooms at the same time.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Wired
Aux Input
No
USB Audio
No
Other Ports
Yes

Aside from its power port, the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin smart speaker has a USB-C port to service the speaker. You can't use this port to playback audio.

8.1
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.0
Bluetooth iOS Latency
149 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
21 ms
Bluetooth Range
321.5 ft (98.0 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
No

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin wireless speaker has great Bluetooth connectivity. It has fantastic range, so your paired device remains connected to the speaker even when it's far away. It also has low latency with Android devices, so your audio and visuals remain in sync when using the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin wireless speaker to watch videos and movies. However, its latency performance isn't as good with iOS devices, so there are some slight syncing issues when watching audiovisual content. Some apps compensate for latency differently, and your experience may differ.

8.3
Connectivity
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Version
Unspecified
Wi-Fi Frequency Band
2.4GHz & 5GHz
Apple AirPlay
Yes
AirPlay Latency
-7 ms
Google Chromecast
No
Chromecast Latency
N/A

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin 2021 offers great Wi-Fi connectivity. It supports Apple AirPlay and has low latency via this connection, meaning you can watch videos and movies over this connection without any syncing issues. However, some apps compensate for latency differently, and your experience may vary. Unfortunately, the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin wireless speaker doesn't support Google Chromecast.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin 2021 comes in two color variants: Midnight Grey and Pearl Grey. This review represents the test results for the Midnight Grey variant, though they're expected to perform similarly.

If you come across any other variant, let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin 2021 is a large smart home speaker with a unique design that offers fantastic voice assistant support with Alexa built-in. However, unlike the Bose Home Speaker 500 and the Sonos Move, it doesn't support Google Assistant. It has a balanced sound profile overall, making it suitable for listening to a wide variety of audio content. That said, unlike the Denon Home 350, it lacks a thumpy and rumbling low-bass. Also, unlike other home speakers we've tested, it isn't designed to blend into your home decor but rather stand out as a main focal point within it.

Check out our recommendations for the best home speakers, the best smart speakers, and the best Alexa speakers.

Sonos Five

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin 2021 is a better speaker than the Sonos Five overall. The Bowers & Wilkins can get louder with less compression present at max volume, so audio quality doesn't degrade as much as you bump up the volume. It's also Bluetooth-compatible, comes with Alexa built-in, and can easily register your commands from far away and in noisy settings. If you prefer listening to bass-heavy music, the Sonos can produce a more extended low-bass that lets you feel the deep thump and rumble typically present in bass-heavy music.

Denon Home 350

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin 2021 is slightly better than the Denon Home 350, though they're similar speakers with different strengths. Both are smart home speakers that offer fantastic voice assistant support with Alexa built-in. However, the Denon can produce a more extended low-bass that can produce the deep thump and rumble typically present in bass-heavy music. You can connect it to a compatible Denon soundbar too. That said, the Bowers & Wilkins offers a wider-sounding soundstage and has less compression present at max volume, resulting in cleaner audio quality at louder volume levels. It also has lower latency with iOS and Android devices, making it better suited for watching videos and movies.

Yamaha MusicCast 50

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin 2021 is a better speaker than the Yamaha MusicCast 50 overall. The Bowers & Wilkins offers a slightly better balanced sound profile that can produce a touch more low-bass. You'll perceive its soundstage as wider and more spacious. It offers outstanding voice assistant support with Alexa built-in. It also has a better latency performance with iOS and Android devices. That said, you can connect the Yamaha to a compatible MusicCast soundbar. Its sound profile is also more customizable, thanks to the graphic EQ and presets in its companion app.

Bose Home Speaker 500

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin 2021 is a better speaker for music than the Bose Home Speaker 500 overall. The Bowers & Wilkins can get louder with less compression at max volume, so audio quality doesn't degrade as much as you bump up the volume. Its sound profile is also slightly more balanced. However, the Bose offers a wider and more open-sounding soundstage. It's smaller and takes up less space than the Bowers & Wilkins. While both speakers have Alexa built-in, the Bose also comes with Google Assistant built-in.

Discussions