Will the diminutive Zeppelin Mini rise as high as its big brother? Or will it go down in flames?
We loved the original B&W Zeppelin. But if you were feeling very picky, you could point to its wide-boy stance as a sticking point: not everyone has enough desktop space to accommodate a dock with a 64cm wingspan. Hence the Zeppelin Mini.
It’s an original
Design-wise, it’s just as quirky as its big brother. The curved chassis is top-and-tailed by a chrome base and angled chrome ‘bowl’.
Sat in the middle is a new docking arm that can rotate 90 degrees. This lets you watch videos on an iPod Touch/iPhone in landscape format, and use Cover Flow to scroll through your music.
The Mini might be half the width of the big Zeppelin, but it’s no less of a system. For starters, you can sync your iPod with iTunes while in standby. You can also play your iTunes music through the dock via its USB input, and control iTunes via the remote.
The biggest difference is that the Mini bypasses the analogue output of your iPod and extracts music in its digital form. It does its own conversion and sound processing, which B&W says gives better sound quality.
Of course, its smaller size means the Mini only has room for two driver units (the big model has five), so it can’t summon the same levels of bass or sense of scale.
But when it comes to filling smaller rooms, it’s great – with quality across the frequency range. The two 18W speakers still kick out a fine level of bass weight, with every note sounding taut and punchy. Instruments and vocals have an open soundstage that’s revealing and detailed.
Review continues after the break…
It’s worth noting that when in standby and linked to a computer, the Mini currently syncs your iPod with iTunes automatically, so any iPods that don’t share the same library could lose content. B&W says a firmware fix is on the way.
We’re impressed at how B&W has managed to take the essence of the Zeppelin and inject it into a smaller unit without making any major sonic sacrifices. For smaller rooms, the Mini is a brilliant dock.