When I was co-founding Music Business Angels in the early 2000’s, we had a series of meeting with companies that are now house-hold names – see our earlier post about Shazam here Shazam. Around the same time I was introduced to a couple of guys who had been instrumental in the development and success of a great British loudspeaker brand, Bowers and Wilkins (B&W) and had spun off a new speaker company.
B&W was founded in 1966 by John Bowers at Worthing (West Sussex, England) having split off the speaker business from the radio and electronics shop he co-founded with his former Royal Signal compatriot, Roy Wilkins, post Second World war. The original shop, now run by Roy’s son, Paul, still carries evidence of the early B&W production line.
In 1967 the P1 became the first commercial speaker from B&W. Key to the success of B&W is their commitment to research and development, ploughing back into this work. By 1972 a new Worthing based production facility was opened and in 1973 and 1978 B&W were rewarded with a Queen’s Awards for Export. Success and new products flowed.
In 1993 the iconic ‘Nautilus’ speaker was launched. It resulted from extensive research and the finished article – although expensive – was a distinctly shell-shaped speaker with amazing acoustic quality.
In 2006 B&W launched the iconic “Zeppelin” iPod speaker system. Apple’s iPod, system first launched in 2001, revolutionised the way we enjoy music. Initially connection was by way of a plug-in to the Zeppelin and WhatHiFi commended the Zeppelin describing it as having “set the benchmark for premium iPod speaker docks”.
A further change came in January 2011 when B&W announced the Zeppelin Air, their first speaker to incorporate the Apple AirPlay system that enabled the iPod to be connected wirelessly to the Zeppelin.
In 2106 B&W released – to rave reviews – their latest iteration, the Zeppelin Wireless. It is essentially the same look as previously – just a little larger. Its timeless elegance has been retained but beneath its elliptical shell it has been almost entirely reworked. In so doing, the wireless connection is impeccable and the sonic quality is yet further enhanced.
For many, the Zepplin’s aesthetic appeal, its sound quality and its price (currently, €700.00) enabled audiophiles to get close to the B&W brand without the depth of pockets needed to enjoy the fabulous Nautilus (currently, €32,500 per speaker) speakers in your living room!