Recently, my B&W Zeppelin Air speakers have started to show a weird problem: I managed to stream music via AirPlay to them, but they would only play the music for a few seconds, then stop for a seemingly random amount of time, then play the music for a second or so again, then stop again, and so on. A lengthy stuttering, so to say.
Turns out, the reason for these troubles was that I set the AirPort Time Capsule’s main SSID wireless security to “WPA2 Personal” and the guest SSID’s wireless security to “WPA/WPA2 Personal”. Now I’ve set them both to “WPA/WPA2 Personal” and the Zeppelin Air works great again! Streaming also works fine if both “networks” are set to “WPA2 Personal” (which is a somewhat safer setting than WPA/WPA2 mixed mode, some old Wi-Fi cards might not work anymore, however).
I can’t quite explain this, based on the observed symptoms (one would expect things to either work or not work, but not half-way). It seems the AirPort Extreme/Time Capsule has troubles using different wireless security protocols for the main network and the guest network. This might also partly explain the generally shaky Wi-Fi connectivity I’ve experienced since upgrading my Macs to Yosemite – the random Wi-Fi connectivity drops even kept occurring in 10.10.2. I’ll keep an eye on it.
All in all, after several months of using it, I can strongly recommend the B & W Zeppelin Air. It’s a truly great iPod/iPhone speaker, filling even larger rooms with quite impressive depths and crisp heights. And in contrast to its competitors (e.g. think of the lousy hardware of the otherwise innovative Sonos speakers – what a pity!), you can see, feel and hear its excellent build quality. It’s been engineered by the guys who equip the famous Abbey Road Studios, supply the audio system for Jaguars and invented extravagant speakers like the Nautilus, after all.
The only thing which wasn’t satisfying so far, is the Zeppelin Air’s buggy default (software) implementation of Airplay, i.e. that the Zeppelin Air lost the Wifi connection after a while in stand-by mode. As I finally found out, all that’s needed to fix this is a firmware upgrade to version 2.00.24 [updated 20120930]. At least, my Zeppelin Air hasn’t ever lost its Wifi connection anymore since. So, if you experience Wifi connectivity issues with your Zeppelin Air (likely), don’t hesitate and upgrade the Zeppelin’s firmware now, although it’s somewhat cumbersome (you need a suitable USB cable, e.g. from an external hard drive or printer, as this isn’t included in spite of the Zeppelin’s upmarket price). It’s well worth it!
Zeppelin Air firmware download at Bowers & Wilkins Support.