Lightning connector and GREAT sound
For those wanting a mobile speaker for their "iDevice", the new connector on the iPhone 5 and latest iPods made it necessary to choose between an adapter cord (no longer truly docking) or going wireless. The dock speakers have the innate advantage of charging the device or keeping it from depleting while playing. Docking speakers with the Lightning connector have been slow to come out. A couple of the initial offerings have been lower end (bad sound, not great construction). Finally, here is the fix! B&W released the Z2 as the latest in their Zeppelin (shaped) speakers and speaker docks at the end of March, 2013. It was immediately reviewed in a popular PC MAGazine and received their Editor's Choice award. It supports Apple's AirPlay so you can go wireless if you wish, even relaying from one Apple device to the next in your rooms. The form factor is about the size of a slightly deflated football--just barely over a foot long--so it's compact without being small. The bigger brother, an updated Zepplin Air, is scheduled to be released in June with a retail of $599. If you're looking for a system immediately, you would do well to confirm that you're getting an Air with Lightning from your vendor (as when new models come out there is always initial labeling confusion). The sound defies the size of the unit, though! (It's rated at 40 watts but sounds MUCH more powerful than I expected. The highest volumes do give up some clarity.) The bass is clear without being overpowering. (B&W uses Flowport technology--and you would be forgiven for thinking Bose here in the best way possible. It similarly uses a tunnel to craft sound within the device. The rear-facing port is dimpled to expand its surface area, like a golf ball. It works well!) It can be played loudly enough to fill a crowded room with sound and yet sounds clear and accurate. It also has the minijack connector for non-Lightning, non-wireless connection if you'd like. And it even has an Ethernet network port so that it can snap into equipped TVs or home entertainment systems. It has all the connections covered. And yes, it comes with a remote for when your device is docked in the Z2 and out of reach.
The retail on the system is $399--be careful about what you pay as I found a very high listing here as I wrote this review. Better availability, as it's brand new, will likely correct over-pricing soon. It may also reflect some of the initial confusion between the Z2 and the upcoming Zepplin Air (full-sized) model. Several web retailers already stock the system. The black colored model is currently available; the white is supposed to be released in May.
If you own B&W headphones, you likely already know what kind of quality and sound precision to expect. I was not disappointed. They are known for doing a great job with signal processing and use great drivers in an affordable package. If you're looking for an Apple-compatible, Lighting-based connector in a portable speaker system, you've found the best out right now. And it's not likely to be outpaced by much, or any time soon, by another system. NOTE: it may be obvious, but the divot in which the Lightning connector resides makes it impossible to connect the new iPads or Mini. You would have to connect wirelessly to the system.
The system is new and I'm sure it will improve some with "burn in". I intend to update this review within sixty days with how it has held up to being moved from room to room, the occasional (oh, no) grab by a cookie-crumbler, and the like. I hope you found this helpful!
Great sound and overall functionality.
This is a great product, has an impeccable sound for the size of the unit. It's everything you'd expect from Bowers & Wilkins. Airplay functionality is fairly consistent, as far as that technology performs, I find it very pleasing overall.
The only "flaw" I've experienced is the shape of the remote control; Although it's cool and useful, it keeps moving because its shape and sometimes its hard to know which end is the front one.
It would be awesome if it would just stay connected via airplay for more than 30 seconds. But since it won't, it's a boat anchor. So sad.
Excellent AirPlay range, Very good, but not great, sound quality.
I'm a big fan of the iLounge Airplay speaker from Libratone, but their smaller Zipp model let me down. Airplay reception was pitiful, even with my Airport WiFi device only 10' away with no walls in-between. The B&W Z2's airplay range is much better and it works flawlessly. I only gave it 4-stars because the sound quality isn't as good as the Libratone.
Love this speaker system!
Amazing sound. Really fills the space. Was easy to set up. Unobtrusive, sleek design fits seamlessly with my decor. Highly recommend.
Nice sound but not good as bedroom alarm clock
If you want to use this in your kitchen I think you'll be happy with it. However, if you want to use it as an alarm clock in your bedroom it's pretty lacking, unfortunately.
First the good: I think it sounds good for its size though disagree with other reviewers about the bass - for me it's got plennnnty of bass. Maybe even too much at times, actually. But overall I don't have any major complaints about the sound, given its size. And as an Airplay speaker it works fine - firing it up is easy with the Remote app on an iPhone/iPad and it streams nicely and in sync with other devices in the house.
Now the bad... incredibly, you can't use the iPhone to wake the thing up when it's docked. I still can't believe this is the case. So you get ready for bed, set your iPhone alarm to go off with music, and plug your iPhone in to charge it overnight. You wake up the next morning to hear... the sound coming out of your crappy iPhone speaker? Huh? That's right - you can't actually wake the the Z2 up *even though the iPhone is plugged into its own lightning dock*! Unbelievable. Instead you can wake it up via the Aux jack (but that doesn't charge the phone?) or via Airplay which is... just janky. To do that you have to tell a 3rd party app (the built-in iPhone alarm clock app won't work) to use Airplay as its output. And you need to remember to tell it this every night.
The other thing I find frustrating is that, after you plug your phone in to charge it, the dock wakes up and the light turns blue to indicate that it's ready to play music from the iPhone through the Z2. But then when the Z2 goes to sleep after 30 minutes it vibrates your phone twice, which typically wakes me up just after I've fallen asleep. Ugh.
Anyway, I really hope B&W fixes this in a firmware update. Right now I'd say look somewhere else if you want to use this as an alarm clock. It would be great in the kitchen.
I had high hopes for the Bowers and Wilkins Z2, based on all the glowing reviews. Man was I disappointed. First off...there was NO mention in any of the product ads or reviews that the Z2 is NOT compatible with older Ipods (pre-Lightning) with the 30-pin jack...you CAN connect them, but you must use a mini-cable into the AUX port in the back of the unit (and of course the cable isn't included). So, there goes the remote control for selecting songs...you can only use it for volume control in that case. When I did connect my Ipod, I immediately noticed the sound was very bright and lacking bass. I guess I've been spoiled by my Kicker dock, which has a rich, full sound that I was expecting from the Z2. For the price, I really don't think this unit is that great.