By Don Lindich
Week 51, 2016
Q. I know you like the new ZVOX soundbars. I’m looking for a high end sound bar with subwoofer and am looking at the ZVOX and Yamaha line. It will be mounted under the TV on the fireplace in a decent-sized room. Are there any other soundbars I should consider, regardless of price?
-P.Y., San Ramon, CA
A. There are no self-contained soundbars I prefer over the new ZVOX line. It simply is the best in most every way, and they deliver deep bass without a separate subwoofer.
I’ve reviewed expensive high-end self-contained soundbars with HDMI inputs and separate subwoofers that should be superior based on specifications. In actual use I don’t find the overall sound to be better than ZVOX, and a lot of them do not sound as good. The HDMI operation can be fussy and quirky, too. I’ve come to prefer simple connections with self-contained units, as found on the ZVOX units. You might get a bit better sound from lossless audio from Blu-ray with a high-end HDMI soundbar, but that is a big “might” and I don’t think the extra cables and fuss are worth it.
If you want the highest possible soundbar performance without regard to cost or complexity, your answer is an unpowered soundbar speaker and powered subwoofer driven by an HDMI A/V receiver. My top pick is the GoldenEar Technology SuperCinema 3D Array, which comes in two models. The Array X is $999 and the larger Array XL is $1,599. Match them to a GoldenEar subwoofer from $499 to $999 based on your room size. goldenear.com
This package will cost between $1,997 and $3,097 depending on the soundbar and subwoofer you choose, plus speaker wire, subwoofer and HDMI cables. You can even run surround speakers to the back wall with it if you want true surround with only three speakers. This system will deliver sound as pristine as it gets, along with very high volume levels, deep bass and wide-ranging dynamics. There is some extra cost and complexity involved going this route, but it is the ultimate no-compromise solution for home theater buffs and serious music lovers.
Sound Advice 2016 Product of the Year: This week’s Q&A is an excellent introduction to my 2016 Product of the Year, and anyone who reads the column every week won’t be surprised by this year’s winner: the amazing new line of soundbars from ZVOX. Sharing the award are the ZVOX SB400, SB500, and SB700 soundbars (above) and the AV200 AccuVoice TV Speaker (below.)
Out of all the new products I tested in 2016 these impressed me the most by far, and more importantly, readers have embraced and loved them as much as I have. Everything about the product and the experience is superlative. They are beautifully-made of high quality materials and are easy to set up and use. The sound quality is outstanding, with deep, satisfying bass from the full-sized soundbars and they can play loudly if desired. The AccuVoice circuity makes television dialogue easy to understand, solving the greatest problem faced by TV viewers today. They sound great with music, too. Simply put, the product is tremendously satisfying in every respect and they completely dominate their competition while staying affordable. Hats off to ZVOX for a job well done!