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ZVOX 580 Low-Profile Single-Cabinet Surround Sound System with Optical and Coaxial Digital Inputs

ZVOX 580 Low-Profile Single-Cabinet Surround Sound System with Optical and Coaxial Digital Inputs

Manufacturer: ZVOX
List Price: $599.99
Street Price: $599.00
Amazon.com: $599.00

Today’s Show:

ZVOX Z-Base 580 Single Cabinet Surround System

Way back on Podcast #417 we reviewed the ZVOX 575 and at that time we felt it was a great solution for an apartment dweller, den, or a bedroom because its so dead simple to setup. Today we are taking a look at the latest in the ZVOX family, the Z-Base 580 (Buy Now $599). The 580 builds on the solid base of the 575 and adds some great new features.

Features:

  • PhaseCue® II Virtual Surround Sound
  • Dialog Emphasis (DE) –  When you push the “DE” button on the remote control you engage a circuit that mimics the functions of a hearing aid. The frequencies used by human voices are emphasized and compressed, while other frequencies are minimized.
  • Output Leveling (OL) - Push the OL button and a sophisticated compression processor takes over, making soft sounds louder and loud sounds softer.
  • Disappearing Display. The 580 features a four-digit display located behind the speaker grille that shows the current setting for volume, bass, treble and PhaseCue II® (virtual surround) – and also shows when you have engaged the Mute, Output Leveling (OL) or Dialog Emphasis (DE) features. A few seconds after you stop using your remote (or front panel) controls, the display disappears completely.
  • Multiple Inputs: including front-panel connection for iPod® and other portable devices. The 580 has two analog audio inputs, one optical (Toslink) digital input, one coaxial digital input – plus a front panel 3.5mm analog stereo input for convenient connection of your iPod or other portable audio device.

Setup

Setup is pretty straight forward. The unit measures 36″ w x 16.5″ d x 5″ h and weighs 33 pounds (91cm w x 42cm d X 13cm h and weighs 15Kg) so there is a little heft to it. It comes in hand lacquered high gloss black so it will look great under almost any TV so long as they are 160 pounds or less.

We connected a DirecTV receiver and an AppleTV via digital inputs and we connected power and we were off and running. For simplicity, ZVOX recommends that you connect the output of your TV to the 580. This is a good way to go if you set your TV to turn off automatically while you are in bed. If you go directly from your Cable Box the audio will continue to play when the TV turns off.

Controls

The 580 has the standard volume, mute, bass, and treble but also include a surround setting. There are three levels that adjust the amount of the virtual surround. We found that for the most part we preferred the first level. It was the one with the best dialog clarity. In fact some shows it was the only way to hear the dialog. If you have a Harmony Remote you will want to have this function added to the touch screen. We found that you will want to adjust the surround quite a bit. You will optimize the affect based on channel and program.

There is also an Output Leveling feature that prevents large swings in volume. We found that it did indeed prevent variations in audio without taking away from the experience. The Dialog Emphasis feature works along the same lines. It boosts the frequencies of the human voice while minimizing the others. When you engage the Dialog Emphasis feature it will over ride the surround and leveling functions.

The front panel of the 575 didn’t have any controls or inputs. The 580 has added Power, Mute, Volume, and input selection. There is also a 3.5 mm stereo jack that can be used to connect an mp3 player.

Finally, you can teach the 580 the learn the volume, mute, and power commands of your satellite or cable box remote.

Performance

Like the 575 we didn’t expect the 580 to blow us away but with the addition of digital inputs and 5.1 sources we were expecting an improvement. We were not disappointed. In a side by side comparison we were able to hear improvements in the surround processing, dialog clarity and music playback. With that said, don’t expect that you will hear sounds coming from behind you. Its more like the sound stage has become wider. We like music on surround setting 3. We also felt that the 580 could use a bit more bass punch. The 580 does have a subwoofer output that will make the experience a bit better.

Conclusion

Our take on the 580 is pretty much that of the ZVOX 575. The ZVOX 580 is a good solution for those who want more than a TV’s speaker for watching movies and listening to music. Its a perfect device for an apartment dweller, den, or a bedroom because its so dead simple to setup. The addition of digital inputs, improved audio processing, and upgraded front panel all for $100 less than the original 575 pricing makes the 580 a great deal.

 

 

Download Episode #503


Posted by The HT Guys, November 3, 2011 10:05 PM

About The HT Guys

The HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.

Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.

ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.

Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.