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First Look: Zvox Z-Base 580

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First Look: Zvox Z-Base 580

2:22 /

The Zvox Z-Base 580 has a nearly perfect sound-bar design and a solid feature set, but it won't please critical listeners and the smaller Z-Base 555 is a better value.

-Hey, I'm Matthew Moskovciak at CNET.com and this is the Zvox Z-Base 580. This is a sound bar home theater system and is currently selling for $600. Now, Z-Base 580 doesn't look like your typical sound bar. It's a big wooden slab and while most sound bars are designed to sit in front of your TV, the Zyvox is designed to sit under it. Now, this arrangement actually makes a lot of sense as there's no chance of the Zvox blocking your TV remote sensor and it looks a lot sleeker. It's more like a piece of furniture than audio equipment. The front panel is also smartly designed with a few key buttons on the lower right and mini jack input and there's also a large front panel display, which is cleverly hidden behind the speaker grill showing up only when you're actively using it. Overall, it's the best design sound bar we've tested. Connectivity is around the back and there are 2 digital inputs and 2 analog inputs and unlike previous Zvox models, there's true input switching. So, you connect up to 5 separate devices total including the mini jack input on the front. You will notice there is no HDMI connectivity on the back, but we don't consider that to be a big loss. You can either connect everything directly to your HD TV and use that as a switcher or you can make separate audio connections straight to the Zvox. The sound quality on the Z-Base 580 was good, but it didn't quite live up to our expectations. Like the smaller Z-Base 555, it does a great job with dialogue clarity and there are tons of useful adjustment options right on the remote to help you dial in the sound just how you like it. The Z-base 580 is larger and has additional subwoofer on the bottom compared to the 555, which helps its sound louder, but the sound quality benefit is only modest. It's still doesn't handle music or loud dynamic action movies as well as with like, and if sound quality is important to you, which just checking out the similarly priced Harman Kardon SP16. Altogether, the Zvox Z-base 580 has nearly perfect sound bar design and the feature set is solid, but it won't please critical listeners, and the smaller Z-base 555 is a better value. I'm Matthew Moskovciak, and this is the Zvox Z-Base 580.

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