ZVOX has announced the introduction of the Z-Base 555 and Z-Base 580, designed to fit under flat-panel TVs and use only one connecting wire. Both new models feature real wood enclosures at prices that make them strong competitors to the plastic "home theater in a box" products.
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Both new ZVOX systems use five high quality full-range speakers and built-in subwoofers all housed within real wood cabinets. New computer-controlled tonal balance delivers midrange and bass (as low as 35 Hz). ZVOX's proprietary PhaseCue II virtual surround system creates reportedly room-filling three-dimensional sound--all from one cabinet.
The new ZVOX systems feature a Class-D digital amplifier that uses approximately 1/10th of a watt in standby mode.
The Z-Base 555 and 580 add a new feature: Dialog Emphasis (DE). When you push the "DE" button on the remote control you engage a circuit that mimics the functions of a hearing aid. This supposedly makes television dialogue more intelligble.
If you've ever been blasted by a too-loud commercial or by a cable channel that's twice as loud as another channel, you'll be pleased with the new Output Leveling (OL) feature on the ZVOX 555 and 580. Just push the OL button and a compression system takes over, reportedly making soft sounds louder and loud sounds softer so there are fewer jarring moments while watching TV.
The 555 and 580 feature a four-digit display located behind the speaker grille that shows the current setting for volume, bass, treble and PhaseCue (virtual surround) - and also shows when you have engaged the Mute, Output Leveling (OL) or Dialog Emphasis (DE) features. A few seconds after you stop using your remote (or front panel) controls, the display disappears completely.
The new Z-Base systems each have two analog audio inputs, one optical (Toslink) digital input, one coaxial digital input - plus a front panel 3.5mm analog stereo input for connection of your iPod or other portable audio device.
The ZVOX 555 and 580 systems are shipping now with price tags of $399.99 and $599.99 respectively. They are available directly through the manufacturer's web site as well as through select retailers throughout the country. ZVOX products are available from websites such as amazon.com, crutchfield.com, onecall.com, vanns.com, listenup.com and worldwidestereo.com.