By Don Lindich
Week 40, 2017
Q. My husband is very hard of hearing and it is really getting in the way of his enjoyment of television, especially football and listening to the announcers. He just can’t hear and understand when people talk, no matter what we do with the TV sound settings. We have seen your columns about ZVOX soundbars with the AccuVoice feature and are considering the AV200 AccuVoice TV speaker for $249 or the SB400 Soundbar for $399. Price is not an issue, we just want the best one for voices. Which one would you recommend?
-K.D., Atlantic City, NJ
A. Though it is smaller and less expensive, the ZVOX AV200 TV Speaker is the better choice for voices. Not only is the AV200 optimized for dialogue, the deeper bass of the larger soundbars can obscure the dialogue just a little bit, even when the AccuVoice feature is used.
There was an option you did not ask about that is probably the best choice for you. ZVOX also offers the AV205 TV Speaker, which is specially designed to help those who are hard of hearing, The AV205 is an audiology-adjustable version of the AV200 that can be fine-tuned for the specific listener, depending on the type and severity of hearing loss. This fine tuning is done with a second remote control provided with the speaker.
The AV205 is best tuned by an audiologist or hearing aid professional, but can also be tuned by the user with headphones and an app called the Mimi Hearing Test. You download the app and take the test with the headphones, which takes about six minutes. After the test is completed Mimi provides an audiogram with curves. You then match the curves as closely as possible to examples in the AV205 user manual to determine what settings to use. For those who are hard of hearing it does not get any better than this, and ZVOX is to be commended for developing such a product for a group of people who are clearly in need, but who undoubtedly represent a relatively small slice of the market.
Your timing is good because you can buy an AV205 at a big discount right now. Typically it sells for $349.99, but ZVOX has a $130 savings coupon code AV205130 that is active between October 8 and October 21, bringing the price down to $219.99. The code works at both zvoxaudio.com and Amazon. Typically the product is not discounted at all, making it an especially good deal. The regular AV200 model is on sale for $199.99, but for only $20 more I would get the AV205. If you don’t use the extra settings it performs just like the AV200, and you will have the audiology fine tuning feature available in the future should you ever need it.
Vibes earplugs for live music: Speaking of hearing loss, it is not too hard to damage your hearing permanently whenever you are exposed to loud noises. I was once told that if you go to a loud rock concert, you will leave with a little less hearing than you went in with. I myself do not go to them now for this reason, as I need to keep my hearing as intact as possible so I can continue to find great-sounding products for all of you. The new Vibes High Fidelity Earplugs ($23.99) are designed to preserve all of the sound and clarity of the concert, while reducing volume so you can listen comfortably and protect your hearing at the same time. A win-win! discovervibes.com