Zvox AV357 review: Premium soundbar improves your TV’s voices

Are you putting up with indecipherable dialogue on your Tv? There are numerous methods to countering bad sound, but acquiring a new soundbar is a very good location to commence. Massachusetts-dependent business Zvox just about invented the soundbar, and it is really been refining its styles in the pretty much twenty several years considering the fact that. Just after a detour into hearing aids, the business has been working with what it acquired to build its line of AccuVoice speakers, which contains every little thing from the entry-amount ZV100 ($a hundred) to this new flagship AV357 soundbar — which lists for $350 but is on sale appropriate now at $300. 

Like

  • Loads of voice modes and EQ customizations
  • Voices sound organic and more easy to understand
  • Convincing amounts of bass for new music

Never Like

  • Shelling out a quality for wood in excess of aluminum
  • Less functions than the stage-down
  • Limited inputs
  • Expensive

With its MDF construction (which is engineered wood for people unfamiliar with the acronym), the AV357 is the two greater and more appealing than stage-down models. Features are pretty sparse — there isn’t Bluetooth streaming — but its overall performance is above and past what you would hope from the dimension.

That mentioned, in comparison to other soundbars at this value stage, the Zvox lacks a whole lot of functions. Competition beat it handsomely for need to-haves like highly developed connectivity and usability — as does the Zvox AV257, which is at this time out of inventory. But at the stop of the day, the AV357 is effectively-constructed and would make Tv dialogue and new music sound far better than any tv alone.

What is it?

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Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The Zvox AV357 is a single, 24-inch soundbar designed to enhance dialogue from your Tv. It isn’t going to present Bluetooth, HDMI or other conventional fripperies but it does have 12 concentrations of voice enhancement. Some soundbars have a single dialogue manner, if they are lucky, so this means the AV357 is highly configurable in comparison.

The device features 6 phases of AccuVoice increase, additionally an further 6 phases of SuperVoice accessed via the remote’s AccuVoice button. SuperVoice is designed to minimize background sounds and increase dialogue even even further. Other sound modes include things like a volume leveling manner (for loud commercials), PhaseCue digital surround and bass and treble controls.

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Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The Zvox has just two inputs: an analog and an optical electronic. The analog input makes it possible for consumers to connect a Tv or an Amazon Echo for automated muting when issuing instructions. The bar by itself is included in a rather appealing black ash veneer and steps 23.75 inches huge, 4.19 inches deep and two.75 inches high. I was working with a pretty small-slung Westinghouse Tv throughout my tests and found that the soundbar did block its IR port. If which is a dilemma for you, there unfortunately is just not a wall-mounting solution (nevertheless you could in all probability obtain a third-social gathering option).

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Ty Pendlebury/CNET

You can program your TV’s remote to management the speaker’s volume concentrations or use the provided remote, which has a quality experience to it and large buttons to aid individuals with small eyesight. (It makes it possible for you to obtain the speaker’s further functions, nevertheless it would have been terrific to include a SuperVoice button because this is just not noticeable with no consulting the guide.) Alas, contrary to other Zvox speakers I have analyzed, the AV357 isn’t going to have controls on the device. This could be an difficulty if, like me, you misplace the remote and need to have to transform down the sound in a hurry.

The soundbar is run by a 24-watt Class D electronic amplifier — just like the AV257 — and a complement of 3-inch, complete-variety speakers. If you want more bass oomph, there is a combined headphone and subwoofer output.

Individually, I favor the functions of the AV257 to the AV357 as it features the two the excess optical-analog input and has controls on the device. It is also $eighty more cost-effective. While I have not listened to the AV257, the other primary variations are the AV357 is substantially wider and it functions wood construction. The enhanced actual physical volume most most likely contributes to the bass excess weight that I listened to. But could I explain to the soundbar was wood and not aluminum by hunting at it? Not actually. It was a black blob in front of the Tv. I truly favor the distinctive, brushed appear of Zvox’s aluminum soundbars to the AV357’s relatively pedestrian black ash.

How does it complete?

When environment up the AV357, I desired to tweak the sound to get it particularly how I preferred. It wasn’t very prepared to go out of the box — in all probability due to it working with an analog Tv source as an alternative of electronic. For instance, I desired to minimize “Lo” by two, or bass drums sounded loose and floppy. Moreover, AccuVoice configurations two and above had been loud and far too ahead and dazzling — not very good for new music. Lastly, when established in SD 3 (Surround 3) manner, the soundbar was capable of a huge ample soundstage and bass for new music. 

In my preceding encounters with Zvox soundbars, a person of the company’s dependable strengths — in addition to terrific dialogue — has been the total of bass the manufacturer can squeeze out of a compact cabinet. Of course, this means a whole lot of guiding-the-scenes sign processing, and I found this could guide to some odd habits. Bass-hefty new music could pulse in and out to the beat, for case in point. 

Luckily for us, this was much less of an difficulty with the AV357. While I did discover refined fading effects on the sparse spoken-term interlude of Fucked Up’s Yr of the Horse Act 1, I only listened to it as soon as throughout my week with the speaker. Even Alt-J’s notoriously speaker-destroying 3WW did not overload the cabinet with its deep bass mattress — at minimum, not following pulling back the bass management earlier.

With even further new music listening I found Foals’ What Went Down was specially fulfilling. It is a cliche, but I actually did look at to see if the Vizio V21 was on as the bass appeared far too deep, far too tuneful to be from the Zvox’s smaller enclosure.

As you would hope, presented the company’s primary pitch, the Zvox was far better with voices than the Vizio V21 (our existing spending plan favored). The AV357 offered increased element, reminding me of audiophile-grade loudspeakers, and it was specially capable of deciphering gritty British cop shows like Line of Responsibility. 

The AV357 features so many tailor-made alternatives that it encourages tweaking, but people can be taken far too significantly. Relying on the manner, you could obtain that midrange hefty sounds develop into unnatural (e.g., Supermode two and 3 accentuated turning bedsheets in John Wick), building them sound like they’d been sitting down out in the frost right away. Also, at AccuVoice’s highest concentrations the brighter sound could be unpleasant for household associates who don’t need to have substantially assistance with hearing voices.

As you would hope, the Vizio ran rings all-around the Zvox for home theater excitement. All through Avatar’s thanator chase scene, the thump of the Vizio’s wireless sub increased the drama. Meanwhile, the Zvox arrived off a tiny slender apparent, but slender. What I did not hope was the Zvox’s dynamics. It could not be in a position to pump out bass, but if you don’t use the volume leveling characteristic, the AV357 handles dynamic shifts effectively — like the tranquil jungle sounds of Pandora damaged by gunfire.

Must you purchase it?

Zvox is just not the only business building dialogue-improving upon soundbars: Polk, Samsung and Vizio all present models with voice enhancement, nevertheless they present tiny in the way of custom configuration. The Zvox AV357’s 6 concentrations of voice management are anything no other soundbar business can present. But if you actually need to have AccuVoice, there are more cost-effective Zvox soundbars that also include things like it, which includes the $a hundred AV100. 

The more high priced SB500 and SB700 also include things like AccuVoice in addition to Bluetooth, and the SB500 is substantially greater (building it truly worth the excess $eighty). It also has a assortment of onboard controls if you are not able to obtain the remote. 

Features and construction aside, the AV357’s primary attraction is its audio overall performance: It is a person of the clearest, most dynamic soundbars you are going to obtain in a smaller enclosure. Its overall performance belies its dimension, as it is capable of outstanding clarity and a deceptively deep bass. It is also incredibly very good with new music. Remaining manufactured of wood is a person of its minimum intriguing traits.