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My “review” of the ZVOX Z-Base 555 - Page 2

post #31 of 79
I am considering the zvox for the bedroom as I want a soundbar that will auto turn on/off with the tv (older lcd non-arc) and work using the tv's remote (needs be simple for the wife) and from what I hear the zvox is one (or only) soundbar that will do this. Can people who have used the zvox comment on how well the auto on/off works? If I have two devices hooked up to (tv and dvd player) it will it auto switch inputs when I power on the dvd player?
post #32 of 79
You need to search here esp for my Yamaha YAS 101 review. I am pretty sure other soundbars as well can do what you are looking for.
post #33 of 79
Thanks, I will look at that one as well.
post #34 of 79
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lane F. View Post

I am considering the zvox for the bedroom as I want a soundbar that will auto turn on/off with the tv (older lcd non-arc) and work using the tv's remote (needs be simple for the wife) and from what I hear the zvox is one (or only) soundbar that will do this. Can people who have used the zvox comment on how well the auto on/off works? If I have two devices hooked up to (tv and dvd player) it will it auto switch inputs when I power on the dvd player?

Hi Lane F,

The on/off functionality works well with the ZVOX,

As far as your question:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lane F. View Post

If I have two devices hooked up to (tv and dvd player) it will it auto switch inputs when I power on the dvd player?

I have the optical coming directly out of my TV, so any device connected to my TV will use the on/off functionality. If you were to use multiple outputs connected by a splitter... I think it would still work, but I have never tried it to substatiate that theory.
post #35 of 79
Hi Folks - I (an admitted audio fussbudget) have recent experience with both the ZVOX 555 (installed one at my brother's house) and the 580 (installed one at my home). I've had the 580 for 2 weeks now, and can make some preliminary comments. I have it connected using two inputs; The analog in-1 is fed by my DirecTV HR24 DVR, and the optical digital input is connected to my Panasonic TC-P46S30 TV. Why twice, you ask? I use the analog connection to allow insertion of a pair of inline audio pads (-12db each), so I can get the volume steps on the ZVOX volume control less coarse. Can't do that with the optical connection. I also A/B'd the two connections and found little if any difference between the two.

First, I'm skeptical about digital amplifiers (IMO, very few of them sound good), but I realize that they're more efficient and less costly than the analog variety. Makes me wonder if I'd have been happier with the now discontinued 575 HSD model, which had analog amps. Owners of the latter model, please weigh in.

Second, I'm also against so-called full-range drivers (remember the Bose 901, trying to get bass, mids and treble from 4-inch drivers?). I'm not crazy about small midrange drivers trying to also be tweeters. At close range, the 3.5-inch speakers sound harsh to my ears, especially up in the high freq's. Bottom line: the audio quality of the 580 falls a bit short for me, but remember - I'm way pickier than most.

As far as which unit is better, the 580 definitely goes louder and deeper than the 555; on the other hand, the mids and highs on both are nearly identical. So, that makes the 555 the better overall value, IMO.

Lastly, here's my assessment of the "Output Levelling" feature. For those of us who disdain loud commercials or movie action sequences at +20db above the dialogue, this item is essential. Why it boosts the signal by nearly 6db when it's engaged is somewhat of a mystery.
post #36 of 79
@500GB

Do the ZVOX units sound different if the TV is not sitting on them? For example, could they be on a shelf under the TV (the TV is living on a stand with 2 glass shelves under it).

When you connect the 580 to the TV via optical are any sounds lost?

How do these units comprehensive with a Bose Cinemate system?

Is optical better than analogue?

Thanks,

Philip
post #37 of 79
Thread Starter 
Philip,

I will take a shot at you questions....

Quote:
Originally Posted by pmcd View Post

@500GB

Do the ZVOX units sound different if the TV is not sitting on them? For example, could they be on a shelf under the TV (the TV is living on a stand with 2 glass shelves under it).

Where you position it will change the way it sounds. High end is very directional, so the further away it is from "ear-shot", the less you will hear. Since bass is omni-directional, positioning matters less. Also, bass can be amplified a bit if it is say, put in a cabinet. It can use the cabinet as a resonator. So.... positioning is very important when it comes to soundbars.
Some soundbars depend on back walls to bounce signals to create faux surround-sound.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pmcd View Post

When you connect the 580 to the TV via optical are any sounds lost?

Theoretically, if the signal is digital, optical cable shouldn't loose anything (anyone, please correct me if I am wrong here....).

Quote:
Originally Posted by pmcd View Post

How do these units comprehensive with a Bose Cinemate system?

I haven't heard the Cinemate in my house, but have heard it as a demo. IMO, the BOSE sounds much better. A big draw with ZVOX is simplicity and it has its trade-offs. It will greatly improve your TVs sound, but it won't give you "big" surround sound or even great stereo. It is not for audiophiles, but for people who want a seamless almost "hidden" system and better sound than most TV speakers are capable of giving.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pmcd View Post

Is optical better than analogue?

I have used both with my system and I thought that optical sounded a little stronger, but it may have been psychological. I had to go between the two... I can tell you that I don't think there is a huge difference.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pmcd View Post

Thanks,

Philip
post #38 of 79
I just ordered the zvox 555 to go with my Samsung UN46D8000 that will be in the bedroom. After reading all the info and the reviews on Amazon, it was a no brainer for me. Thanks to all on this forum for sharing the info.
post #39 of 79
I have optical connection between my TV and Zvox 555 (Toslink). Yesterday something strange happened... while flipping channels we were watching American Idol ... 3 folks were singing and their vocals were totally drowned out. However, when the judges spoke, it sounded loud and clear. All the while, the surround sound was consistent. Do you think this might be a problem with the TV signal / recording or the Optical cable or the decoding in 555? I just hope it is just something to do with the recording. Has anyone else experienced this with their Zvox system?
post #40 of 79
I'd like to chime in on Philip's questions a few posts ago, and Kilgire777's responses.

pmcd: Do the ZVOX units sound different if the TV is not sitting on them? For example, could they be on a shelf under the TV (the TV is living on a stand with 2 glass shelves under it).

Kilgore777: Where you position it will change the way it sounds. High end is very directional, so the further away it is from "ear-shot", the less you will hear. Since bass is omni-directional, positioning matters less. Also, bass can be amplified a bit if it is say, put in a cabinet. It can use the cabinet as a resonator. So.... positioning is very important when it comes to soundbars.

500GB: K777's response is accurate, but neglects to mention the fact that the closer the center channel audio is to the TV's display, the better. In other words, you should keep the ZVOX as close to the picture as possible.

pmcd: When you connect the 580 to the TV via optical are any sounds lost?

K777: Theoretically, if the signal is digital, optical cable shouldn't loose anything (anyone, please correct me if I am wrong here....).

500GB: The only kind of signal on an optical cable is "digital" by definition. But there are several different formats for digital signals. Here are some of them:
(1) PCM (Pulse Code Modulation): This is a discrete 2-channel (stereo) digital signal. Most digital inputs on current audio gear (e.g., the ZVOX 555) can accept this format.
(2) Dolby Digital: This is a discrete 6-channel surround format, 5 full-range signals for LF, CTR, RF, LS and RS; and one limited-range signal for a subwoofer. The desination item must have a Dolby Digital decoder built in (the 555 does).
(3) DTS: Same as (2), but requires a different decoder. I don't believe the 555 can decode this format.

As far as "sounds being lost" when using optical, this shouldn't happen, as long as the device sending the signal is set to a format that's compatible with the destination device.

I agree with the the other answers given to Philip's questions.
post #41 of 79
The big differences between the 420 and 555 are:

the 555 has an all digital amp that allows us to contour the sound much better than the analog amp in the 420, and it's more energy efficient
the 555 has a Dolby processor and the 420 doesn't, so if you use OTA, you'll need to set your output to PCM if you can.
the 555 is rated at 70 watts output and the 420 is 45 watts

Kevin@ZVOXaudio
post #42 of 79
Hello everyone. I just purchased a ZVOX 555 and I am very satisfied with the purchase. Also the folks at ZVOX are top notch if you have to call with a problem. Since I don't want to post a second time, I copied the following from my post on the Sony KDL55HX750 thread since I just purchased that tv last week also. If the ZVOX folks reads my post below, please correct if I didn't say it right. Once again, my family and I love the ZVOX 555 and as long as you know what you are buying, you won't be dissapointed. Here is my post from the sony tv thread:

Hi Steve, If you decide to go the ZVOX 555 route, let me give you some important advice in relationship to the Sony 750. When I first hooked it up we were thrilled with the great sound. Later, we were watching the news and the sound of the newsbroadcaster was going in and out. Then when a commercial came, the sound blasted which is not supposed to happen since we had the "output levelizing" on. When we switched to the History Channel we were back to great sound. I called ZVOX up and those guys are incredibly helpfull and patient. Here is the problem - ZVOX includes in the box a set of RCA cables with red and white plugs. The 750 has no output in the back to handle RCA cable. The 750 only has 2 audio outputs, a digital optical output and a 3.5mm stereo mini-plug. I bought a digital optical cord and attached it to the tv and zvox. Everything was great. Then lousy with news. ZVOX said the problem is the digital optical cable allows the XVOX 555 to handle dolby digital. Most of tv content and all of movies are dolby digital and everything is fine. Problem is live broadcasts like news and sports are not transferred to cable box in dolby digital so the digital optical cable doesn't work right. There are two solutions to this. One - either at tv or at cable box change sound settings from dolby digital to PCM stereo and problem is fixed. Except you lose dolby digital for good just to get live broadcasts right. Second solution is to buy another cable called an RCA to 3.5mm mini-plug cable. One side of the wire has the red and white cables the other side of the wire has a 3.5mm mini-plug which plugs into the side of the 750 right above the HDMI input. So now you have two sets of wires coming out of tv and into ZVOX. One is the digital optical cable and the other is the rca - mini-plug cable. All you have to do now is use the remote to switch the input on the ZVOX between the two cables. This is very easy to do. Most of the time you will be using the digital optical cable and news and sports you will have pcm stereo with the rca - mini-plug cable. The cable is inexpensive at $7.00. It is not ZVOX's fault or Sony's fault. It is the signal being received into the house. The problem may just be with my cable provider because I haven't read any complaints on amazon reviews on it. ZVOX is sending me the wire and I haven't received it yet. The good news with ZVOX is you have a free 30 day trial to return it with no questions asked. If anyone does buy the ZVOX 555 here are my settings: Dialog Emphasis off, Output Leveling on, Surround Sound at 3, treble at 2 and base at 3. I have purchased 2 Sony soundbars and returned them the next day because they just made everything louder - not better. I also used to have a stereo surrond sound system with Bose speakers and sub-woofer. The rumbling floor shaking bass gets old fast and after a few months we sold to a relative in his teens who liked it. I can guarantee you there is plenty of bass in the ZVOX 555 without a sub-woofer on the floor. I rambled a bit here but I can't say enough about the ZVOX 555 and wish I would have purchased years ago. My wife wants me to buy another one for our older Sony 46" upstairs since my wife and I sometimes watch different movies upstairs when my sons have their friends over in the family room. Looks like I rambled a bit here but just want to help out if I can.
post #43 of 79
I just received my Zvox 555 yesterday to use with our new Samsung UN55ES7150. Purchased on eBay from Zvox as a "scratch and dent" unit for only $169 with free shipping. It looks brand new, cannot find a scratch or dent on it. Sounds much better than the TV speakers. Very happy with the purchase!
post #44 of 79
fyi - be careful buying re-furbished from zvox. I bought a second one for our other tv because we liked the first zvox 555. I talked to zvox first and they said the re-furbished are thouroughly tested before being sold and they're pretty much like new in terms of sound. After a few days of using, the sound will just shut off. The only way to get it to work again is to shut it off using the switch in the back of the box. The remote power button will not make it work again. We also have the tv volume set to "fixed" and the cable box set to "fixed" so the problem is the zvox. zvox does give a 30 day money back trial offer so they are pretty good at that and they pay shipping. I'd say the previous owner returned it for the same reason and then it was re-sold to me. In about 3 days and 18 hours of use it has happened twice. I would say that is how zvox failed to detect it because it doesn't happen all of the time. I still love zvox soundbars but no more re-refurbished for me. Other reviewers have not had problems buying re-furbished but it's not worth the $100 savings in my opinion.
post #45 of 79
So from what I am reading here it seems that zvox soundbars are pretty good. They get good reviews from Home Theater Magazine as well and I will have to look into one of these. smile.gif
post #46 of 79
Been using my ZVOX 555 for a couple weeks now and I love it. I have a question regarding the signal from my DirTV box. In the settings, it allows you to choose between dolby digital and PCM. The obvious choice would seem to be DD, but I cant tell the difference, and actually thought it may have sounded better with the PCM signal. The DirTV is connected to my Panny VT via HDMI, optical out from the VT to the ZVOX.

Is it better for the ZVOX to decode DD or get a PCM signal?

My PS3 automatically detects what signals it can send and when I play blu ray with it, and it only lists (2) 2.1 LPCM signals that will be used. PS3 is also connected to the tv via HDMI. Anyone familiar with the Ps3 detection screen will understand what I'm talking about when I say that all other options are "grayed out" except for the LPCM.

Is this the correct settings for the PS3 with the ZVOX or am i doing something wrong?
Edited by SAY WHAT AGAIN - 3/19/13 at 11:14am
post #47 of 79
The PS3 detects it's connected to a TV which is a stereo device, so it downmixes to 2 ch. As for the sat box it may not make any difference which setting you use because Panny TVs only output PCM stereo from connected source devices.
post #48 of 79
Thank you for the quick response...

Thats sad news. I guess the question now is, do i want to go through all the hassle of hooking everything up to a receiver just to get a DD decode vs the PCM.

Does anyone have an opinion if the DD is really THAT much better than a PCM signal on a ZVOX 555? I realize its never going to sound like a 5.1 system, but is there a worthwhile difference?

I have a PS3, X360, and Sat box that all need to feed the ZVOX audio, so if the Panny audio output is PCM only, it sounds like I'm out of luck unless I want to ad another piece of equipment. Or does it even matter really because the ZVOX isnt true surround anyway...

Any opinions are appreciated!
post #49 of 79
Well you did say it sounds good! There's an easy test you can perform to compare the PCM with DD. Take the optical cable and connect it directly to the PS3 instead of the TV. You'll probably need to make a setting change on the PS3 to output audio on optical rather than HDMI. Now see if it sounds better or different to you. You could perform the same test with the sat box if you want. If you hear a significant difference, you could get an optical switch so that each of your source devices would connect to it and feed the Zvox that way. If the PCM output sounds just as good to you, leave things as they are and enjoy. smile.gif
post #50 of 79
I highly advise to call zvox (866) 367-9869 with questions like yours. I have called them several times for different issues and they are very knowledgeable. I rate their support 100%.
post #51 of 79
Appreciate the info! For anyone who may have an interest in this (VT panasonic TV owners interested in ZVOX, I'm talking to you...) I did do some "testing" last night. There is a significant increase in the quality/depth of sound for the simulated fields on a 555 when comparing optical and PCM signals.

On to a digital switch I guess. Another note for any Direct TV owners, thinking about switching to the "genie" box. I just noticed last night that the Genie box has no optical output, only digital coaxial. SO, thank you ZVOX for having a coaxial input. Many others will need to purchase an adapter to convert coax to opt.

I've looked up a few optical switches on Amazon and a couple look decent, but if anyone is currently using one and has a recommendation, feel free to respond or send a message!
post #52 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by SAY WHAT AGAIN View Post

Thank you for the quick response...

Thats sad news. I guess the question now is, do i want to go through all the hassle of hooking everything up to a receiver just to get a DD decode vs the PCM.

Does anyone have an opinion if the DD is really THAT much better than a PCM signal on a ZVOX 555? I realize its never going to sound like a 5.1 system, but is there a worthwhile difference?

I have a PS3, X360, and Sat box that all need to feed the ZVOX audio, so if the Panny audio output is PCM only, it sounds like I'm out of luck unless I want to ad another piece of equipment. Or does it even matter really because the ZVOX isnt true surround anyway...

Any opinions are appreciated!

I have the 555 and I am not able to detect a difference sending DD vs. PCM form the cable box or via the TV. (both pass DD via optical). I would guess that the zvox just converts it to PCM anyway but who knows.. I just know it sounds exactly the same to me.
It’s odd - I also have a Zvox 220 with no DD decoder; this unit is quite clearly able to extract more detail from an analog connection (particularly input number 3 - the mini connection) then the digital connection and PCM. – The opposite is true of the 555.
I have the 220 in a much smaller room and the surround effect is really pretty good. I've been watching Vikings of late and you would swear that all those cool off center animal background sounds like barking dogs and crows were coming from outside the house!
I like both units very much but I am not able to completely eliminate a vibration sound on the 555 at moderate to high volume and level or + base settings. I intend to swap the units at some point to see if the vibration has something to do with the location or if it is in the 555 itself.
JJK
post #53 of 79
During scenes that generated heavy base I heard vibrations as well. It turned out to be coming from the tv sitting on top of the zvox. I went to Wal Mart and bought a solid black bath towel and folded it to the dimension of the tv stand. It took care of the vibration and you can't really see the towel. I would be nice is Zvox devoloped some sort of vibration damping pads to solve the problem but the bath towel method only cost five bucks. I posted earlier on this thread the difference I had with DD vs PCM and a call to Zvox resolved the issue. If you get a chance go back and read my earlier post. I leave my Zvox 555 on PCM while watching most tv shows but switch to digital when watching movies through cable or blu ray. You need to separate wires to do it. If my post doesn't help, call Zvox. They're great at offering advice or solutions.
post #54 of 79
In my opinion, there is definitley a difference in sound quality between PCM and DD. I had to buy an optical switch and a coax cable (for the genie's optical out), but I can say that all the extra work and $80 for the switcher & cable were worth it. It's hard to tell the difference if you can't switch directly back and forth from PCM to DD, but once you have it all hooked up and can change it at the press of a button in the Direct TV settings, it's clear there is sound you are missing with PCM. I noticed a clear upgrade in vocal clarity and overall sound quality at lower volume settings on the ZVOX, once I had the DD set up properly.

Now, if you don't have a Logitech Harmony remote, this can get ugly. I had 6 remotes before programming the Logitech and reducing it to 2 (direct TV remote and Harmony). The learning curve can be a little steep for the kids, but I can't recommend it enough once it's all set up. I had the following remotes: receiver, opt switch, direct tv, panasonic tv, zvox, and panasonic web tv remote.

I ended up having to use my receiver for all the HDMI and the opt switch for all the optical sound, but it was the only way to get DD into the ZVOX from so many sources. An optical out on the Genie would have been nice, eliminating the need to run an additional cord (dig coax) through the wall and into the ZVOX and complicating the "user friendly" status of the ZVOX w/ multiple input settings for the XBOX and PS3, but for $400 I don't think you can get much better sound from a one box setup.
Edited by SAY WHAT AGAIN - 4/26/13 at 9:43am
post #55 of 79
I may be beating a "dead horse" but I have the Zvox 555 in my bedroom with a 37" TV sitting on it. I had also tried the 580. The 555 is the better choice. I use it with my ipod also as much as with the TV. Sound for TV and ipod provide a good compromise . That is what most systems do is provide a compromise. In my bedroom I am very very limited to what will fit. I have a full 7.1 system in the living room;good quality. My wife and I do not always agree on what to view and listen to. So often i retreat to the BR and do not feel i am giving up a heck of a lot. Anybody wanting an uncomplicated replacement /enhancement for for TV sound can not go wrong with Zvox 555. More bang for the buck then the 580. The lesser models offer far less in performance.
post #56 of 79
HI all, new to the forums as this is my first post. I just purchased the 555 and set it up yesterday and am thoroughly impressed with the sound output. What an upgrade to my tinny Samsung tv speakers! This speaker cabinet looks more sleek and integrated than the standard soundbar/powered sub and that is what I wanted. Set-up was indeed super easy but I couldn't get any sound output from the optical connection on my Samsung tv. Anyone else have this issue? Ended up hooking it up like this: Blue-ray player optical out to Zvox; Samsung tv RCA audio out (red/white cable included) to Zvox audio intputs. Not ideal but it works and sounds good to my virginal ears. My cable content comes from a Tivo connected via HDMI to tv.

So far, couldn't be happier with the Zvox 555.
post #57 of 79
loverotties,

I will be picking up my new 555 this week. Your review is interesting. If I am reading your review correctly you are indicating you will probably need to have two imputs - one for regular TV's and Movies from Blu ray and one for News and Sports (live broadcast).

My TV does have the imputs for the red and white RCA cables - so I can attach them. I also will be using the Toslink Digital Cable from the TV to the 555.

Also, are you saying the Digital Optical cable only allows the 555 to handle Dolby digital - only?

Does the 555 adjust for Dolby and PCM.

And as you state - just use the remote to switch between the two output cables.

Your review was informative and will probably help me if I have the same results on the Live broadcast vs. TV and Blu ray movies.

Thansk
post #58 of 79
If you use the toslink, the zvox will read whatever you send it, whether it is dolby digital or pcm.

I have, however, noticed a distinct quality difference between broadcasts that are dolby 5.1 and others. 5.1 sounds great. If the signal, however, is just dolby stereo or PCM, it will sound better if the source is switched over to PCM only. There is a significant volume difference.

The idea of using toslink for dolby 5.1, and the analogue inputs for other sources so I don't have to keep going into the TV and switching is an interesting one. I'll give it a try tonight and see how it works.

I find the zvox is great for about 90% of what I watch on TV. If I'm watching a really big movie, however, I'll route the sound through my stereo and floor standing speakers...but that is way too much for normal TV watching.

Brad
post #59 of 79
I just want the ZVOX to improve my audio from my XBR Sony TV. I'm not looking for Surround Sound at all and I know the ZVOX 555 would not provide that anyway. Thanks for your suggestions.
post #60 of 79
Sorry to tell you - when I was picking up my 555 Series this morning --- I noticed a big "Made In China" label on the box. I therefore refused the product and got a full refund. I, along with a number of friends have decided from now on we will avoid Products made in China if it is avoidable. And this product was avoidable. I'm sure it's a good sound system - when ZVOX starts making them in the USA I will look at them again.

Paul
Nashville,Tn
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