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B&W Zeppelin Mini Review Print E-mail
Tuesday, 23 March 2010
Article Index
B&W Zeppelin Mini Review
Listening Session


One of the Mini's greatest strengths is its portability. I was able to move it from my office to kitchen to bedroom in seconds, and in those three rooms is where I spent most time with the unit, either streaming music from my Mac mini or playing tunes stored on an iPod. No audio was compressed or otherwise injured during this time.

Some reviews of the Mini have bemoaned its lack of bass extension and presence. The bass isn't overwhelming, but it's much better than I expected. It can be boosted by placing the back closer to a wall. Where the Mini truly takes flight is with its crystalline mid-range and upper-end. Whereas other sound docks are often smudgy or tinny in these ranges, the Mini shines and sounds much more like a stereo speaker than an iPod dock. And it must be noted that few mini-monitors plumb subterranean bass depths.

The recent release Ali & Toumani, captures Malian guitarist Ali Farka Touré and kora player Toumani Diabaté during three afternoons in 2005 at a London, England, recording studio. It's a magical ride across Western Africa that unfolds in waves like the shifting dunes of the Sahara. The duet's string playing has a crystalline quality to it, and the Mini let the sparkle through, never brusque or congested.

Mini Remote

The recent death of Alex Chilton sent me back to the first two Big Star albums, #1 Record and Radio City, both masterpieces of what would later be called power pop. No band did jangly guitar and harmonies better than Big Star, and the Mini accorded itself well with shimmering classics including “Way Out West” and “Back Of A Car.”

Megadeth's fiery “Holy Wars...The Punishment Due” features a barrage of guitar riffs and licks courtesy of rhythm master Dave Mustaine and lead phenom Marty Friedman. The tune had plenty of crunch and drive, but here the bass fell short of satisfying. To get the impact of the 4-string rumble I had to turn the Mini around and let the rear port unload its artillery.

But for precision, the Mini is a dead-eye. I played a series of high-resolution classical and jazz (24/88, 24/96 and 24/192) files through its twin cones and was very impressed by the clarity, imaging and transient response. The Mini is very good with transients. The Moody Blues' “Are You Sitting Comfortably,” from On The Threshold Of A Dream, features a wash of percussion including a steady cymbal beat/crash from Graeme Edge. Instead of fizzling out, the Mini let the brass breathe and decay naturally. Nice performance from a speaker box.

Final Thoughts

The Mini exceeded my expectations and kept me company with an iPod longer than I had in years. Its attractive lines and crisp presentation made it easy to live with and listen to. For tight treble, clear mids and better-than-average bass, the Mini should keep most music lovers shuffling through their 'Pods and computer files to hear them anew. Refined, elegant and poised, the B&W Zeppelin Mini won't shake the Halls of Valhalla, but it will make the Misty Mountains hop.

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