Zvox AV357 review: Premium soundbar improves your TV’s voices

Are you putting up with indecipherable dialogue on your Television? There are numerous alternatives to countering lousy sound, but obtaining a new soundbar is a superior area to commence. Massachusetts-primarily based company Zvox practically invented the soundbar, and it is been refining its models in the just about twenty many years considering the fact that. Following a detour into listening to aids, the company has been applying what it acquired to establish its line of AccuVoice speakers, which includes anything from the entry-stage ZV100 ($one hundred) to this new flagship AV357 soundbar — which lists for $350 but is on sale proper now at $300. 


  • A good deal of voice modes and EQ customizations
  • Voices sound all-natural and far more understandable
  • Convincing amounts of bass for audio

Never Like

  • Shelling out a high quality for wooden above aluminum
  • A lot less options than the move-down
  • Restricted inputs
  • Highly-priced

With its MDF development (that is engineered wooden for individuals unfamiliar with the acronym), the AV357 is each bigger and far more attractive than move-down styles. Attributes are pretty sparse — there isn’t Bluetooth streaming — but its functionality is earlier mentioned and beyond what you would assume from the sizing.

That mentioned, in comparison to other soundbars at this price tag stage, the Zvox lacks a large amount of options. Competition conquer it handsomely for need to-haves like superior connectivity and usability — as does the Zvox AV257, which is at this time out of inventory. But at the stop of the working day, the AV357 is perfectly-crafted and makes Television dialogue and audio sound much better than any tv alone.

What is it?


Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The Zvox AV357 is a single, 24-inch soundbar intended to boost dialogue from your Television. It won’t present Bluetooth, HDMI or other regular fripperies but it does have twelve ranges of voice improvement. Some soundbars have a single dialogue method, if they’re blessed, so this implies the AV357 is hugely configurable in comparison.

The unit offers six stages of AccuVoice boost, in addition an added six stages of SuperVoice accessed by way of the remote’s AccuVoice button. SuperVoice is intended to lower background sounds and boost dialogue even additional. Other sound modes consist of a volume leveling method (for loud commercials), PhaseCue virtual surround and bass and treble controls.


Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The Zvox has just two inputs: an analog and an optical digital. The analog enter will allow people to link a Television or an Amazon Echo for automated muting when issuing instructions. The bar itself is covered in a somewhat attractive black ash veneer and steps 23.seventy five inches wide, 4.19 inches deep and two.seventy five inches significant. I was applying a pretty low-slung Westinghouse Television all through my testing and located that the soundbar did block its IR port. If that is a issue for you, there sadly isn’t really a wall-mounting possibility (however you could possibly come across a third-party resolution).


Ty Pendlebury/CNET

You can application your TV’s remote to control the speaker’s volume ranges or use the included remote, which has a high quality experience to it and big buttons to assist persons with low eyesight. (It will allow you to access the speaker’s added options, however it would have been great to include a SuperVoice button mainly because this isn’t really evident without consulting the handbook.) Alas, as opposed to other Zvox speakers I have tested, the AV357 won’t have controls on the unit. This could be an problem if, like me, you misplace the remote and have to have to flip down the sound in a hurry.

The soundbar is driven by a 24-watt Course D digital amplifier — just like the AV257 — and a enhance of 3-inch, total-range speakers. If you want far more bass oomph, there is a combined headphone and subwoofer output.

Personally, I want the options of the AV257 to the AV357 as it offers each the excess optical-analog enter and has controls on the unit. It can be also $eighty cheaper. Even though I have not read the AV257, the other principal variations are the AV357 is a lot broader and it options wooden development. The elevated actual physical volume most most likely contributes to the bass excess weight that I read. But could I convey to the soundbar was wooden and not aluminum by seeking at it? Not seriously. It was a black blob in entrance of the Television. I basically want the distinctive, brushed seem of Zvox’s aluminum soundbars to the AV357’s considerably pedestrian black ash.

How does it conduct?

When environment up the AV357, I necessary to tweak the sound to get it precisely how I needed. It wasn’t pretty prepared to go out of the box — possibly because of to it applying an analog Television source alternatively of digital. For occasion, I necessary to lower “Lo” by two, or bass drums sounded free and floppy. In addition, AccuVoice settings two and earlier mentioned were loud and far too forward and shiny — not superior for audio. Ultimately, when established in SD 3 (Surround 3) method, the soundbar was able of a wide sufficient soundstage and bass for audio. 

In my previous ordeals with Zvox soundbars, 1 of the firm’s constant strengths — in addition to great dialogue — has been the quantity of bass the brand name can squeeze out of a compact cabinet. Of system, this implies a large amount of at the rear of-the-scenes sign processing, and I located this could direct to some odd habits. Bass-significant audio could pulse in and out to the conquer, for illustration. 

Luckily for us, this was fewer of an problem with the AV357. Even though I did detect delicate fading outcomes on the sparse spoken-word interlude of Fucked Up’s 12 months of the Horse Act one, I only read it the moment all through my week with the speaker. Even Alt-J’s notoriously speaker-destroying 3WW did not overload the cabinet with its deep bass bed — at minimum, not just after pulling back the bass control previously.

With additional audio listening I located Foals’ What Went Down was particularly enjoyable. It can be a cliche, but I seriously did test to see if the Vizio V21 was on as the bass seemed far too deep, far too tuneful to be from the Zvox’s compact enclosure.

As you would assume, provided the firm’s principal pitch, the Zvox was much better with voices than the Vizio V21 (our present spending budget favored). The AV357 made available improved detail, reminding me of audiophile-quality loudspeakers, and it was particularly able of deciphering gritty British cop reveals like Line of Duty. 

The AV357 offers so a lot of tailor-made solutions that it encourages tweaking, but individuals can be taken far too much. Dependent on the method, you may come across that midrange significant sounds grow to be unnatural (e.g., Supermode two and 3 accentuated turning bedsheets in John Wick), making them sound like they’d been sitting down out in the frost right away. Also, at AccuVoice’s best ranges the brighter sound could be uncomfortable for relatives customers who will not have to have a lot support with listening to voices.

As you would assume, the Vizio ran rings all over the Zvox for house theater exhilaration. Through Avatar’s thanator chase scene, the thump of the Vizio’s wireless sub improved the drama. Meanwhile, the Zvox arrived off a minor slender apparent, but slender. What I did not assume was the Zvox’s dynamics. It may not be ready to pump out bass, but if you will not use the volume leveling characteristic, the AV357 handles dynamic shifts perfectly — like the silent jungle sounds of Pandora damaged by gunfire.

Really should you obtain it?

Zvox isn’t really the only company making dialogue-enhancing soundbars: Polk, Samsung and Vizio all present styles with voice improvement, however they present minor in the way of custom configuration. The Zvox AV357’s six ranges of voice control are some thing no other soundbar company can present. But if you seriously have to have AccuVoice, there are cheaper Zvox soundbars that also consist of it, which include the $one hundred AV100. 

The far more highly-priced SB500 and SB700 also consist of AccuVoice in addition to Bluetooth, and the SB500 is a lot bigger (making it worth the excess $eighty). It also has a range of onboard controls if you are unable to come across the remote. 

Attributes and development aside, the AV357’s principal attraction is its audio functionality: It can be 1 of the clearest, most dynamic soundbars you are going to come across in a compact enclosure. Its functionality belies its sizing, as it is able of fantastic clarity and a deceptively deep bass. It can be also surprisingly superior with audio. Getting manufactured of wooden is 1 of its minimum fascinating features.

Maria J. Danford

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