Zvox Audio is a relatively new name in the world of audio that specializes in single-chassis speaker systems. They have several sound bars at various price levels, and the 425 is their top-of-the-line model at $700. It's also their most powerful and best-sounding unit, receiving rave reviews from both the audiophile and mainstream press.
Zvox creates simulated surround sound using their proprietary PhaseCue technology. The speaker has five three-and-a-quarter-inch drivers and two four-inch subwoofers. Three of those drivers serve as center-channel speakers and the left and right speakers go in and out of phase to create the approximation of surround sound. While even Zvox admits no sound bar will sound as good as a true surround sound system, this sound bar comes close. It performs great on both music and movies. On movie soundtracks, what you'll notice first is a big, bold sound with deep bass. You probably won't feel the need to run out and buy a separate subwoofer, but if you do, you can connect one via the subwoofer output. While some sound bars struggle with music reproduction, the 425 produces dulcet audio that is neither thin-sounding nor strained. The sound field is surprisingly wide and surround sound effects seem to come from phantom speakers around the room.
What you won't find on the 425 are a lot of features, a fact that is touted highly on the Zvox website as allowing the company to focus instead on high-quality audio. It also means a lack of connections; there are three stereo-only audio inputs and the unit doesn't perform any surround sound processing at all. While those with a simple HT set-up won't necessarily be bothered by this, those who have more than three HD sources will most likely need a separate receiver to switch between sources or to step up to a sound bar with more connections, such as the Yamaha YSP-4000.
In terms of design, the Zvox isn't the sexiest we've seen; it is basically a long black box. It does, however, obviate the need for wires running to and fro in your room. Zvox recommends using the 425 with a 37- to 50-inch flat panel. If you have a TV from 32 to 42 inches, you might consider the step-down model 415 ($500).