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A Review On: ZVOX 580 Low-Profile Single-Cabinet Surround Sound System with Optical and Coaxial Digital Inputs

ZVOX 580 Low-Profile Single-Cabinet Surround Sound System with Optical and Coaxial Digital Inputs

Rated # 2 in Soundbars
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Price paid: $380.00
adam1991
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Pros: Sounds great, very easy to connect, no maintenance

Cons: Largish, and it doesn't automatically turn on with incoming audio

Full disclosure: I just watch (recorded) TV and DVDs, very uncomplicated. I don't even have a large TV. But when I received my hand-me-down 37" Samsung a couple of years ago, I came to realize that manufacturers are absolutely putting the minimum speaker they can into their TVs. I can't really blame them, but still it's aggravating. It was difficult to hear even my simple programming.

I had known about ZVOX products for some time, and appreciated the theory of simple, good quality sound. I really didn't want a bunch of discrete components for this situation, and the single box fit the bill. It turned out I had a nice platform that would fit the 580, onto which I could then put the TV, so I pulled the trigger. But I did it from ZVOX's Ebay store and saved a bunch of money--and it still came with their money-back guarantee. At the time I bought, the retail price was $499 and I got it for $379. I see the list price has dropped to $399 now; I wonder if the product is due to be refreshed.

This thing is BIG, plus decently heavy. If you're questioning how it will look in your setup, I suggest you dummy up a cardboard version of this at real size and paint it black, and work with that. Hookup was every bit as easy as I expected. All it takes is a power cord and a signal cable from the TV. Absolutely everything is built inside this box. I didn't have an optical cable (it didn't ship with one), so I used analog cables initially--and it worked very well. ZVOX supplied a nice setup poster in the box, full of pictures. If you can't hook this up, you're not paying attention.

The remote is small and unassuming, but you won't need it. The unit has some features like simulated surround sound and dialog emphasis (which works!); once you find your sweet spot of settings, you can put the remote in the drawer and simply use your existing remote's volume control. The 580 has a few popular remote codes built-in (Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, etc.) but can also learn any remote code in just a few seconds. In addition it has its own native remote code; I have a simple Harmony 300 remote, and the ZVOX codes are on the Harmony setup web site. That's what I'm using. I just stuck the ZVOX audio device into a spare device button, and set that up for volume. No problem.

I can also use my Samsung TV remote for volume; that has the unfortunate side effect of the TV seeing its volume control and complaining on-screen that because I've turned the TV speakers off, what I'm trying to do is "not available". Ugh.

The sound is superb for what it is. I can crank movies and get great results. All by itself it handles the lows very well. I don't expect sub-bass from something like this, and that's fine; but, this definitely doesn't need a bass module just to handle the basic bass signals like the three piece things that are on the market. It's plenty powerful and has wide range and more than fills my modest space. It's overkill for me, but I'd rather use 30% of a highly capable product than stress a smaller product. For the Ebay refurb price I paid, I have no regrets.

The very small front display lights up from behind the cloth only when you're changing volume or setting surround or dialog emphasis settings, and then goes away after only a second or two; otherwise, it's completely invisible. I like that. It's not complicated. The volume display shows numbers, and you quickly get used to what range of numbers are appropriate for your setup. Like I said, the dialog emphasis works well--and so does the output leveling, for when you just want to watch TV and the movie you're watching was not designed for that.

The unit sleeps after 5 minutes of inactivity. It turns on when I turn my TV on, because it sees the TV on signal from the remote. It will respond to that, and to volume up/down, to come out of sleep. It takes a moment to come on, but for all that it is, it's very quick to be fully ready. However, my main complaint is that while it can recognize when the sound input has stopped and after five minutes puts itself to sleep, it cannot recognize when sound input has started and turn itself on. I find this very odd. If I pause my TV for more than 5 minutes, the 580 goes to sleep--and I must trigger the unit with the volume control to make it come back out of sleep.

It has two additional inputs, one in back and one in the rear. You could use this for multiple devices, but I don't. The front input is a 3.5mm jack for portable music players; shortly after I bought mine, ZVOX sent me an email about how they've confirmed the unit works with a third-party Bluetooth add-on module.

Overall, I would definitely recommend the ZVOX 580 if you have the space and want more than just decent sound. I would expect the next generation of product to tweak the few idiosyncracies I've found, but none of those are deal-breakers.

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