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Bowers & Wilkins’ Zeppelin Docks, iPod Sound Explodes

Worthing, U.K. – High-end speaker maker Bowers & Wilkins unveiled its first iPod speaker system/dock, which borrows design elements from the company’s high-end speakers to deliver what the company called “audiophile-grade” quality.

The $599-suggested Zeppelin drops into Apple stores and Apple’s Web site in mid-September.

The one-piece, polished-stainless-steel system features three-way speakers and biamplification. It’s almost two feet wide and features tapered ends that house the midrange and tweeter drivers. The chassis design is a nod to the Nautilus tapered-tube tweeter-loading technologies, which the company said it uses in its 800 Series loudspeakers to enhance definition and clarity and ensure a smooth response and even distribution of sound. “Warmly detailed” treble extends into the ultrasonic region, the company added.

Low frequencies are handled by one center-mounted 5-inch subwoofer with twin rear-firing ports to deliver deep bass extension. It’s driven by a 50-watt amplifier. The tweeter/midrange pairs are driven by a separate 2×25-watt amplifier. All three amp channels incorporate proprietary digital signal processing technology to enhance response.

Other design elements from Bowers & Wilkins speakers include aluminum-dome tweeter and audiophile-grade crossover components such as film capacitors and air-core inductors for dynamic, low-distortion reproduction. Glass-fiber midrange cones feature slots filled with resonance-absorbing compounds.

Features include:

  • rear S-video and composite-video outputs to send iPod video to a TV;
  • combination analog/digital mini-jack input to play most non-iPod audio sources;
  • a 30-pin docking port that needs no adapter or interchangeable bases because of its spring-loaded design;
  • a “floating-arm” dock that lets the user grasp a docked iPod to control its menu system without using the supplied remote;
  • the ability to accept worldwide AC power standards from 100-240V;
  • a tilting base to place the Zeppelin at the correct angle for listening; and
  • a pebble-like mini remote to control the speaker system’s volume, source select, and mute functions while also controlling the iPod’s play/pause and track-selection functions.

Other features include:

  • a special Zeppelin speaker menu with five-position bass EQ to tune response for system placement or individual preference; and
  • the ability to display the Zeppelin’s volume level on the iPod screen.