ZVOX Z-Base 580 Reviewed

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ZVOX Z-Base 580 Reviewed

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ZVOX_Z-Base_580_soundbar_review.jpgThe Zvox Z-Base 580 is a low-profile, single-cabinet, surround sound system and at $599.99 is a bargain in today's audio world. Zvox is quite capable of improving your existing HDTV and movie audio but is it enough for audiophiles? Or is it just a solution for those who want to upgrade from their afterthought HDTV speakers? Or is it for those who don't want to set up a traditional home theater with two to five speakers and all the cables that come along with it?

Additional Resources
• Read more soundbar reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com's staff.
• Look for an LED HDTV or Plasma HDTV to pair with the ZVOX Z-Base 580.

The Zvox Z-Base 580 weighs 33 pounds and is 36 inches wide by 16.5 inches deep by five inches high and unlike most soundbars, for its size, it is quite large. You may be wondering why the Zvox is so big for a soundbar? Well, the Zvox Incredibase 580 can be used as a platform for your television, which makes it quite practical so I decided to place it under my Samsung 58 inch plasma because it was too wide for my center channel location. The height is something to keep in mind because it does increase the viewing height by almost half a foot. The Zvox ships with a two-meter RCA to RCA cable and my review shipped with an optical cable. The Zvox Incredibase 580 has two analog inputs, one optical (Toslink) digital input, one coaxial digital input including a front panel three and half-millimeter analog stereo input which makes connecting an iPod easy. The Z-Base 580 also has a subwoofer output jack, which is a cool option if you want to add a separate subwoofer to attain extra bass. The Zvox 580 does not disappoint when it comes to input options, with the exception of not being compatible with DTS while using the digital inputs. The Z-Base 580 also comes with a remote control, which is small and quite basic but it does the job. The volume and mute buttons are large but most other buttons are hard to distinguish by touch. The Z-Base does have front panel buttons along the right edge and a four-digit disappearing display behind the speaker screen. Only the essential buttons are available on the front panel. This has to be one of the easiest setups in the history of audio and video equipment for all it took was a power cord and the optical cable.

The Zvox 580 houses the speakers, amplifier, powered subwoofers and the proprietary PhaseCue II virtual surround sound all in one fairly slim cabinet. The reported frequency response is 24Hz to 20kHZ. The Zvox 580 has five, three and a quarter inch high performance speakers and incorporates dual six and a half inch powered subwoofers in a ported enclosure. The class D amplifier pumps out 120 Watts, making the Zvox 580 extremely efficient and therefore a "green" technology. One of my favorite features is the "DE" button on the remote that stands for dialogue emphasis and was so helpful when the dialogue would get drowned out. The Incredibase 580 has three surround sound options. The Zvox Incredibase 580 uses an MDF (medium density fiberboard) wood cabinet instead of molded plastic and it shows the level of quality Zvox has put into this product. Zvox also has an output-leveling (OL) button that activates a compression system to reduce the audio highs and increases audio lows for a more balanced listening experience.

The overall sound from the Zvox is quite impressive considering everything is in one box. If you are a discerning audiophile the Zvox will not satisfy your ears in the quite the same way a traditional two or multi-channel setup would, but for the sake of convenience and clutter - the Zvox rocks. The soundstage is good due to the Incredibase 580's width but the further you venture past its horizontal limits the less accurate it becomes. I loved how loud the Zvox was able to play within my medium-sized living room and the options of dialogue enhancement and surround sound are a nice touch. Zvox's proprietary PhaseCue II creates the virtual surround sound processing and this helps with creating 3D-like surround sound. I listened to Bob Marley's Legend (Island Record) and the bass performance did not disappoint, which one might think could happen from such a small speaker. In fact, the Zvox 580's bass was shockingly good. Additionally, I watched Pulp Fiction (A Band Apart) and the witty dialogue on the Zvox Incredibase 580 was crisp, detailed and easy to hear. Think: many times better than TV speakers even from the best HDTV sets.

Read about the high points and low points of the ZVOX Z-Base 580 on Page 2.
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