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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here is my “review” of the ZVOX Z-Base 555:


I recently purchases a Sony 46HX909 (a great TV!) and I found the speakers to be terribly anemic. I decided I wanted to get a sound system to beef up the sound. I didn’t want anything too elaborate or loud; my living room is not large. My wife expressed concerns about having too many cords/speaker that would “junk up the room”. After looking at a number of soundbars, I decided not to get one because I don’t have room for a subwoofer (and the SBs without subs didn’t have enough low end). I did some research and came across the 555. After reading up on it, I decided to give it a try … ZVOX has a 30 day money back guarantee.


The system fit the bill for me perfectly. Here is why:


1) Because the Z-Base system is a simple looking black wooden box that your TV sits on, it is practically unnoticeable to anyone walking in the room. I actually have had to point it out to some people. The construction is very solid and the quality of the build is impressive.

2) It is programmable, so you don’t need to use the remote once you adjust the settings (EQ, Surround-sound, etc.).

3) It has bass without using a sub! Mind you, it doesn’t have tons of bass and it is mostly present in the low-mids. If you have to have those house shaking lows, you will need a sub. But if you are like me and not that picky, it is fine (even good!).

4) Overall, the sound is very good. Like I said, “low” low end is not present and it seems the same with the really high end… but overall the system has a nice sound. It did exactly what I wanted – it improved the sound of my TV a great deal.

5) Setup is extremely simple. One optical cable does the trick, reducing cordage for those neat freaks like my wife and me.

6) The Surround-sound does a decent job. There are 3 levels – I keep it on the most “Surroundy” (lv 3). ZVOX did a nice job with this feature, which gives the unit a bigger, fuller sound (unlike the surround in most TVs that do nothing).

7) There is a digital readout on the right side of the unit. It only displays when you use the remote and turns off after several seconds.

8) The system turns itself off if there is no input after a certain amount of time.


Thing that could be improved on, in my opinion:


1) The remote is small and not too impressive. This isn’t an issue for me because I don’t use it.

2) I would like to see more EQ settings than just treble and bass. Mids would be nice, but I guess that might be getting too picky. Not many devices like this one have mid controls.

3) The high end could be just a bit brighter. Again, I am getting picky. I actually avoid this problem by leaving my TV speakers on really low. They have a nice high end, but little else. They supplement the “tingier” high frequencies very nicely.

4) There is no HDMI support! This is my biggest *****!

Edit (8/17/11): Upon research, I think that my comment about HDMI is not warranted. From what I have read, HDMI would not have a great advantage over the optical input. Also, now that I have had the speakers for a while, I think that the high frequencies are present enough on their own.


Notable features that I don’t care about or use:


1) In addition to the EQ and Surround setting there is also a limiter and a “voice enhancer”. Both work well and are fine for something like a news broadcast, but I wouldn’t use them while viewing a movie or watching a concert. The limiter compresses the sound so those pesky commercials are less blaring and annoying, but it kills dynamics. The voice enhancer boosts midrange to make vocals sound more prominent. This is at the cost of other frequencies and the surround sound.

2) It has a number of other inputs, but the optical is best. Also, an optical cable is included with your purchase, which is a nice touch these days.

Edit: (9/5/11) now that I have had the system for over a month, I do find that the voice enhancer is useful sometimes. It really does a nice job of making the voices clearer and easier to understand.


Overall, I am very happy with the ZVOX Z-Base 555. It does not replace a good 5.1, 7.1 or a great stereo (we have JBL studio monitors that sound great…. but I don’t want to leave them on all the time). You won’t get true surround sound with this system, so don’t expect miracles. However, you will get much improved sound from your TV speakers and the surround does a commendable job. I have been demoing the unit to my friends and family first with the TV speaker, then with the 555 and it has been getting rave reviews. Everyone says, “wow, that thing sounds good…. who makes it?”. Or something like that...


At its price,you could argue that you can get something that sounds a lot better and that may be true. But you won’t get anything that is so hidden (unless you go for in-wall speakers) and easy to set up and operate.


If I were to score the 555 I would give it a 93%. Although it is not perfect… sturdy construction, rich robust sound and aesthetically pleasing looks make this system a winner. If you want to avoid using a subwoofer and have a sound system that is inconspicuous in your décor, it might be the one for you!

EDIT: (9/10/11) Cnet reviewed the 555, here is there take . They pretty much like it.


They mostly agree with me only they are a little harder on the sound quality. Like I said, it is a big step up from my TV speakers, but far from perfect...
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by kilgore777 /forum/post/20776899


At its price,you could argue that you can get something that sounds a lot better and that may be true.

Nice review and I do agree with much of it.


I would say one thing though,,, I have owned the Z-VOX and many other soundbars,,, the Z-VOX would be last on my list out of all the soundbars I have owned and demoed at home over the years.


There are more than a few bars that will cost less and sound better than the Z-VOX, and I say that from personal hands on experience with the Z-VOX and many other bars I have compared it to,, sorry, not tring to be rude and please dont take offense.


Anyhow,, just my 2 cents.


Cheers

Davyo
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by davyo /forum/post/20778053


Nice review and I do agree with much of it.


I would say one thing though,,, I have owned the Z-VOX and many other soundbars,,, the Z-VOX would be last on my list out of all the soundbars I have owned and demoed at home over the years.


There are more than a few bars that will cost less and sound better than the Z-VOX, and I say that from personal hands on experience with the Z-VOX and many other bars I have compared it to,, sorry, not tring to be rude and please dont take offense.


Anyhow,, just my 2 cents.


Cheers

Davyo

Hi Davyo,


No offense taken, thank for you pennies! I have enjoyed reading your reviews.


I have a friend who has a Sony SB (not sure of the model) and he says that he prefers the 555. However, he didn't demo it in his house, but at mine, and you don't really know about a peice of gear until you use it yourself (and for a while as well). But he was pretty impressed.


Just curious, have you demoed the Z-Base 555 in particular? It has been improved since the 550. The optical input is a big part... I tried it versus the analog inputs and found a huge difference in clarity and volume between the two. The EQs and surround have also been re-done.


I had a Vizio VSB200 and I have to say that I think that the bass and clarity of the 555 is superior. I thought the bass was fairly anemic in the Vizio. You could argue the big price gap though, I suppose. IMO, you can get away without a sub with the ZVOX, but not with the Vizio.


But I agree that some other (sometime less expensive) SBs sound better (anything with a decent sub will kill the low end in my ZVOX)... but they are much more "present" visually. ZVOX is definitely looking at a niche market, people like me who want to see as little gear as possible in their living room. And for those who don't want to use a subwoofer.


Cheers


PS. BTW.... were you in the Eurythmics?


Sorry, I couldn't resist! Actually, I was a big fan of theirs...
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by kilgore777 /forum/post/20780916


Hi Davyo,


No offense taken, thank for you pennies! I have enjoyed reading your reviews.


I have a friend who has a Sony SB (not sure of the model) and he says that he prefers the 555. However, he didn't demo it in his house, but at mine, and you don't really know about a peice of gear until you use it yourself (and for a while as well). But he was pretty impressed.


Just curious, have you demoed the Z-Base 555 in particular? It has been improved since the 550. The optical input is a big part... I tried it versus the analog inputs and found a huge difference in clarity and volume between the two. The EQs and surround have also been re-done.


I had a Vizio VSB200 and I have to say that I think that the bass and clarity of the 555 is superior. I thought the bass was fairly anemic in the Vizio. You could argue the big price gap though, I suppose. IMO, you can get away without a sub with the ZVOX, but not with the Vizio.


But I agree that some other (sometime less expensive) SBs sound better (anything with a decent sub will kill the low end in my ZVOX)... but they are much more "present" visually. ZVOX is definitely looking at a niche market, people like me who want to see as little gear as possible in their living room. And for those who don't want to use a subwoofer.


Cheers


PS. BTW.... were you in the Eurythmics?


Sorry, I couldn't resist! Actually, I was a big fan of theirs...

Hey Kilgore,,, funny thing is I get the Dave Stewart/Eurythmics comment alot and a few years ago the GF I had at the time had bright red hair and even looked like a better looking Annie Lenox,, when we together people were 100% we were the Eurythimics,,, we would be followed and asked for autographs,,,, but that was a few years ago when the Eurythimics were popular



Glad you did not take offense to my Z-VOX comments and to be fair I did not own the exact model you have, how ever the way Z-VOX creates the surround effect is what I had a problem with.


With the Z-VOX I found that its a very fine line between adjusting the surround effect while not hurting the center chanel effect and visa versa.


If Z-VOX was able to keep the same surround effect while maintaining a good center dialog channel then it would be a winner.


But one cool thing about the model you have is the base/your TV sits on it stealth form factor,,,, a very slick idea from Z-VOX.


Cheers

Davyo
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by davyo /forum/post/20786353


Hey Kilgore,,, funny thing is I get the Dave Stewart/Eurythmics comment alot and a few years ago the GF I had at the time had bright red hair and even looked like a better looking Annie Lenox,, when we together people were 100% we were the Eurythimics,,, we would be followed and asked for autographs,,,, but that was a few years ago when the Eurythimics were popular

If you aren't pullin' my leg, that is awesome! The part about autographs cracked me up...


Quote:
Originally Posted by davyo /forum/post/20786353


Glad you did not take offense to my Z-VOX comments and to be fair I did not own the exact model you have, how ever the way Z-VOX creates the surround effect is what I had a problem with.


With the Z-VOX I found that its a very fine line between adjusting the surround effect while not hurting the center chanel effect and visa versa.


If Z-VOX was able to keep the same surround effect while maintaining a good center dialog channel then it would be a winner.


But one cool thing about the model you have is the base/your TV sits on it stealth form factor,,,, a very slick idea from Z-VOX.


Cheers

Davyo

I talked to the rep at ZVOX about the differences between the 550 and the 555 and he said that the electronics on the new model are superior to the old one. He said there were too many levels of surround sound on the 550, some of them unusable... probably due to the same thing you didn't like. There are only 3 levels on the 555. The first level seems almost mono to me, with the center channel being prominent. Using that setting, it is easist to hear voices. But at the 3rd level, the surround is more prominent and I don't have to strain my ears for vocals (but they are less prominent). If they sound a little weak, I simply crank the volume slightly. So, maybe this feature has been improved since you last listened. If you get a chance, give the 555 a listen. I would like to hear your take one it.


Again, the system isn't perfect and the sound is not stellar... but it is good. I watched a Muse concert the other day, and I could hear everything (including the kick drum and electric bass) very well. Compared to my TV speakers, I can tell a big difference and that is what I was looking for.


ZVOX also has a bigger version, the 580. That one has 2 subs and it is 5 inches tall (too big and expensive for my needs). I am curious about the bass response and sound quality in that one (linky below)...

http://www.zvoxaudio.com/cgi-bin/item/4005801



Take care my friend... and "Sweet Dreams"
 

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Thanks Men for the great dialog on the new ZVOX. I remember Davyo's comments on the ZVOX 575 HSD. I had bought one from Crutchfield when they were selling them at $130 off normal price. I had hooked up the system and was feeling quite proud of myself for making such a sweet purchase. The ZVOX 575 HSD sounded great, had impressive base for a unit with no sub, and it's form factor was perfect for my somewhat demanding physical space. The Davyo crushed me like a pea :) when he said he'd put the ZVOX at the bottom of his soundbar list. However, I did understand his objection to the ZVOX (not sure he had tested my particular ZVOX, but still...). There was this tradeoff between the surround sound effect and clarity of the center stage/voices. Just for old times sake I will say that after owning the ZVOX 575 HSD for over a half year and fully breaking it in (an absolute requirement for this speaker) the tradeoff issue Davyo referred has diminished to the point where I no longer think about it. That, plus the fact that the ZVOX's form factor uniquely met my needs make it a winner for me.


What I would love to hear from someone is a comparison between the new, larger 580 unit and my 575 HSD. I believe the 580 is more similar to my unit than the smaller unit reviewed by Kilgore. I would be most interested in hearing just how much improvement ZVOX built into the 580 with regard the center stage clarity vs. surround effect on which Davyo, with great politeness in all honesty, killed my 575.


Again, thanks for the great discussion. It takes a lot of time to write thoughtful reviews like Kilgore's. Davyo's ability to crush a product without crushing the person is a skill I wish more folks had.


Cheers back at you, Mr. Luigi
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Luigi /forum/post/20960480


Thanks Men for the great dialog on the new ZVOX. I remember Davyo's comments on the ZVOX 575 HSD. I had bought one from Crutchfield when they were selling them at $130 off normal price. I had hooked up the system and was feeling quite proud of myself for making such a sweet purchase. The ZVOX 575 HSD sounded great, had impressive base for a unit with no sub, and it's form factor was perfect for my somewhat demanding physical space. The Davyo crushed me like a pea :) when he said he'd put the ZVOX at the bottom of his soundbar list. However, I did understand his objection to the ZVOX (not sure he had tested my particular ZVOX, but still...). There was this tradeoff between the surround sound effect and clarity of the center stage/voices. Just for old times sake I will say that after owning the ZVOX 575 HSD for over a half year and fully breaking it in (an absolute requirement for this speaker) the tradeoff issue Davyo referred has diminished to the point where I no longer think about it. That, plus the fact that the ZVOX's form factor uniquely met my needs make it a winner for me.


What I would love to hear from someone is a comparison between the new, larger 580 unit and my 575 HSD. I believe the 580 is more similar to my unit than the smaller unit reviewed by Kilgore. I would be most interested in hearing just how much improvement ZVOX built into the 580 with regard the center stage clarity vs. surround effect on which Davyo, with great politeness in all honesty, killed my 575.


Again, thanks for the great discussion. It takes a lot of time to write thoughtful reviews like Kilgore's. Davyo's ability to crush a product without crushing the person is a skill I wish more folks had.


Cheers back at you, Mr. Luigi

Thanks for the kind words Mr Luigi,,,, I do try to show "some" respect when Im not impressed with a product and I try to never slam anyone for their choice of a product.


One other rule for me is I never comment too much on a product I have not personaly taken home and tried out.


Please forgive me for crushing your 575.


Cheers

Davyo
 

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As I type this comment on my iPad 2...I gaze at my ZVOX 575 HSD and a tear comes to my eye.


Nevertheless, all is forgiven. :)


Hm...I sure hope you haven't got a review of the iPad 2 lurking somewhere in another thread. Ready to hunt me down. :) :)
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Luigi /forum/post/20964668


As I type this comment on my iPad 2...I gaze at my ZVOX 575 HSD and a tear comes to my eye.


Nevertheless, all is forgiven. :)


Hm...I sure hope you haven't got a review of the iPad 2 lurking somewhere in another thread. Ready to hunt me down. :) :)

Well, actually,,, about the iPad 2,, I demoed one at home a few months ago and my feeling on it is,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, ohh crap, look at the time,, i have to be somewhere so I cant finish my iPad 2 review



Cheers

Davyo
 

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You're Killing Me!


You're also one funny guy whose posts I always enjoy reading and learn a great deal from.


Thanks. I hope the forum appreciates your efforts.


Ah...of course they do.


Just stay away from my iPad 2.
 

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I noticed that CNET seemed to say that the 580 was only marginally better than the 555, basically you're paying $200 more for some extra volume, but similar quality is what I got out of it. I wish there were some other sources of reviews.


I notice that they also said they liked the sound of the older ones better. For those that upgraded, is the 555 better than the 550HSD? Thanks.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Luigi /forum/post/20966235


You're Killing Me!


You're also one funny guy whose posts I always enjoy reading and learn a great deal from.


Thanks. I hope the forum appreciates your efforts.


Ah...of course they do.


Just stay away from my iPad 2.

Hey Mr Luigi


You will never guess what I purchased yesterday,,,, I will give you a hint,,,, it starts with the word iPad and ends with the number 2.


So far I'm still playing with the new tablet,,, there are many pros and cons,,,, shall I post the pros and cons for you



And then there is the Zoom tablet and how I think it compares to the iPad2,,,,,, what I think is ,,,,,,,,,,,,,


Ohhh crap,,,,, wrong forum.


Cheers

Davyo
 

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I got my Zvox 555, and it sounded great for 6 days. Then it wouldn't power on when I got home from work one day. I had 2 other items hooked up to the same surge protector and they work fine, and so I think I got a faulty unit. The company has offered to replace it, but now I am nervous this is just going to happen again, and what if it happens in a year and a day next time.


Has anyone else on this forum had their Zvox's just die like that out of nowhere? (It happened 2 days after I programmed it to learn my remote, so not sure if that feature fried the circuits or something).
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonB824 /forum/post/21083773


Has anyone else on this forum had their Zvox's just die like that out of nowhere? (It happened 2 days after I programmed it to learn my remote, so not sure if that feature fried the circuits or something).

Sorry, I can't offer you much info, but I doubt that programming it would fry anything.


If I were you, I would go with their offer for a replacement. Chances are (hopefully) you won't have a similar issue. Sorry to hear about your problems.
 

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I have a Sony HT-CT150 and a Zvox 575HD - There's really no comparison as to which one provides better sound quality - the Zvox.


Anyone looking for a soundbar really needs to give Zvox a serious look.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by nr5667 /forum/post/21102822


I have a Sony HT-CT150 and a Zvox 575HD - There's really no comparison as to which one provides better sound quality - the Zvox.


Anyone looking for a soundbar really needs to give Zvox a serious look.

Well, it is good to hear the ZVOX get some good press for a change!


My friend has a Sony (not sure of the model) and he isn't too happy about it. I haven't heard it myself. When he was over, he was pretty impressed with my ZVOX.
 

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I just recommended one (555) to my daughter's jujitsu Sensei. He said he's going to get one for himself for X-mas. I hope it's as good as it seems, else I might end up being the throwing dummy. :)


I recommended it because he wants something simple, does not want to run wires and is mainly just looking for something better than the TV speakers and about the only place he has to put anything is under the TV. Perfect for the Xvox.


Thanks for the reviews.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kini62 /forum/post/21121786


I just recommended one (555) to my daughter's jujitsu Sensei. He said he's going to get one for himself for X-mas. I hope it's as good as it seems, else I might end up being the throwing dummy. :)
! I hope he likes it!



Quote:
Originally Posted by Kini62 /forum/post/21121786


I recommended it because he wants something simple, does not want to run wires and is mainly just looking for something better than the TV speakers and about the only place he has to put anything is under the TV. Perfect for the Xvox.


Thanks for the reviews.

The 555 might fit the bill for him. Keep in mind, the sound quality isn't the best out there; there is a trade-off for the concealed approach of the system. However, it was a huge step up from my TV's speakers - a lot beefier in the bass dept without adding a subwoofer. It won't give you true surround sound, but ZVOX never made that claim.... check out the reviews on CNET. I think they were a little harsh concerning the SQ, but the reviews are decent nontheless.


Also, if he really isn't happy with the system, you can send it back within 30 days (I think it is 30....) and get his cash back.
 
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