Bowers & Wilkins embraces Lightning: refreshes Zeppelin Air, intros Z2 AirPlay speaker

Bowers & Wilkins rides the Lightning refreshes Zeppelin Air, intros $400 Z2 AirPlay speaker

Roughly two years ago AirPlay WiFi streaming was becoming a major force, especially thanks to companies like Bowers & Wilkins updating their speakers systems to feature the standard. Two years later, B&W's bodacious Zeppelin Air is getting updated yet again, but this time it's all about the dock. Those of you who can't bear to go dock-free with the A5 and A7 will be pleased know the third-generation Zeppelin features a Lightning connector. Aside from Lightning and an updated LED array, it's essentially the same speaker we were polarized by back in May 2011, set to ship this May for the same $600 price. Beyond that, the company is introducing what's effectively the wireless followup to its defunct Zeppelin Mini, the $400 Z2. Positioned as a small speaker with big sound, the ovular unit features a top-mounted Lightning dock for iPhones and iPod Touches. It'll be available in black this April, with a white version following in June -- consider it the company's take on bedside or kitchen speaker that you'd normally see from Sony or Harman. %Gallery-183173%

Meeting with B&W we were able to give both a quick listen; the Zeppelin still sounds like we remembered, while the Z2 pumped a large amount of volume for it's size (albeit a good deal muddy at its loudest settings). Suffice it to say, both maintain the thick and smooth voicing that this editor has come to enjoy from its P5 headphones. If you want more details in the meantime, you'll find a press release after the break.

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Air your tunes

Bowers & Wilkins launches two Wireless Music Systems with AirPlay® and LightningTM connector

The new Z2 offers great sound and features, in a form factor that can fit almost anywhere. The updated Zeppelin Air brings the iconic Bowers & Wilkins iPhone® docks up to date. Both speaker docks benefit from the addition of an iPhone 5 compatible Lightning connector, and feature Apple AirPlay technology for intuitive, high-quality wireless streaming.
Bowers & Wilkins is excited to announce two new wireless iPhone speaker docks, the Z2 and an updated version of the classic Zeppelin Air. Both products offer exemplary sound quality, feature Apple's AirPlay wireless streaming technology, and are equipped with new Lightning connector for iPhone 5 connectivity.

Z2 offers the best of all worlds: amazing sound, the effortless convenience of wireless streaming, a choice of black or white finishes and a versatile design that fits almost anywhere. Plus, the new Lightning connector means customers can dock the latest generation of iPhone, iPod touch® and iPod nano® as well as streaming wirelessly from many other iPhone and iPad® models, and from a Mac® or PC running iTunes®.

A subtly curved metal grille protects new Bowers & Wilkins engineered drive units, while proprietary FlowportTM technology works to keep bass performance tight and controlled. Decades of Bowers & Wilkins acoustic engineering experience mean that while Z2 is compact, music sounds amazingly natural, controlled and fully formed, no matter how loud you play it.
Zeppelin Air, the number-one-selling AirPlay system has also been updated with the new Lightning connector for iPhone 5 compatibility. Since it originally launched as the world's first premium AirPlay speaker dock, Zeppelin Air has led the way in sound quality and features.

This updated version retains the distinctive design, and offers the same room-filling, highly-detailed audio performance, but thanks to AirPlay and the addition of the new Lightning connector, Zeppelin Air is compatible with the widest possible range of iPhones, iPads and iPods.

The simple to set-up and use AirPlay technology allows you to stream music wirelessly from your iPhone or iPad to either of the new docks, or the A7 and A5 which complete Bowers & Wilkins Wireless Music System line up. It's quick and easy, high quality, retains the rich app experience, and works from the palm of your hand. Plus, many customers already own nearly everything they need to enjoy its benefits: a Wi-Fi network and an iOS device or a computer running iTunes. This intuitive technology is made even more straightforward with the free Bowers & Wilkins setup app, downloadable from the App StoreSM.

Zeppelin Air, Z2 and the complete Bowers & Wilkins Wireless Music System range combine traditional Bowers & Wilkins audio expertise, with AirPlay wireless streaming, the latest in digital amplifier technology and custom Digital Signal Processing, to deliver the effortless convenience and freedom of wireless music, without compromising on sound quality.

Z2 Black is available April priced $399.99
Z2 White is available June priced $399.99
Zeppelin Air is available May priced $599.99