Week 43, 2018: Great bookshelf speakers under $500, ZVOX VoiceBud clarification

Sound Advice

By Don Lindich

Week 43, 2018

Q. I have a Pioneer SX850 stereo receiver and Pro-ject Debut Carbon turntable with the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge (a recommendation from you that I am very with). I’m looking for a recommendation for quality bookshelf speakers. I currently have Bose 201 Series III speakers connected, but would like to upgrade to something in the $500 per pair range. The system is primarily to be used for my vinyl records. I listen to a wide variety of rock, country and Americana, occasionally some big band jazz.


A. The speakers are definitely the weak link in your system and upgrading them will bring you into an entirely new level of musical satisfaction.

You don’t have to spend the entire $500 to get some really super speakers. I’ve loved the Polk Signature S20 bookshelf speakers since I first heard them. There is a detailed review on my website, but in short they have the sonic character of a classic, high-end American Hi-Fi speaker but for $299 per pair.

For $339 you can get the Chane A1.4 bookshelf speakers. I wrote about these speakers years ago when they were sold under the Arx brand. The A1.4 is the latest iteration, sold under a new brand name. The Chane A1.4 use exotic technology in plain black boxes to provide incredible sound at an affordable price. They tend to sell out as soon as a shipment hits the country, so at times they can be hard to get because of the demand. I checked and they are in stock right now, so if you want a pair it is best to strike fast!

At $548 per pair the Axiom Audio M3 is hard to beat. Handmade in Canada, they have crisp sound with tremendous clarity and make a fine addition to a vinyl-based system. You can also customize the finish to match your décor.

Clarification on ZVOX VoiceBuds: Apparently I was confused by the “Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act” signed by President Trump in 2017 and the nature of ZVOX’s new VoiceBuds product. After my column mentioning the ZVOX VoiceBuds I received the following email from Tom Hannaher, CEO of ZVOX.

“Thank you for your article mentioning our VoiceBuds. But I do feel compelled to point out that you make an incorrect statement when you say, ‘By the way, now that hearing aids can be purchased over the counter, ZVOX has entered that market, as well, drawing on its experience of helping people to hear better.’

“Hearing aids cannot, at this point, be purchased over the counter. And ZVOX has not entered the hearing aid market at this time. The VoiceBud VB20 is being marketed as a hearing amplifier (or PSAP), not as a hearing aid. Thank you for your attention to this matter.”

That should set the record straight. If any of you purchased the ZVOX VoiceBud VB20 Hearing Amplifier after reading my column, I would like to hear from you regarding how well it works and your satisfaction with the product. I have excellent hearing so this is not a product where I can perform a meaningful review on my own. What I have heard is that hearing aids can be hideously expensive and the market is ripe for disruption by new products and players. I can be contacted through my soundadvicenews.com website and you can see the VoiceBud VB20 at zvox.com.