CNET First Look
Zvox Z-Base 555The Zvox Z-Base 555 has a nearly perfect sound-bar design and a solid feature set, but it won't please critical listeners.
Hey, I'm Matthew Moskovciak at cnet.com and this is the Zvox Z-Base 555. This is a sound bar home theater system and is currently selling for $400. The Z-Base 555 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 Zvox is designed to sit under it. This arrangement actually makes a lot of sense as there's no chance that the Zvox blocking your TV's 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 a minijack input. There's also a large front panel display which is cleverly hidden behind the speaker grille 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 with two digital inputs and two analog inputs and unlike previous Zvox models, there's true input switching so you can connect up to five separate devices total including the minijack input on the front. You'll notice there's no HDMI connectivity but we don't consider that to be a big loss. You can either connect everything directly to your HDTV and use that as a switcher or you can make separate audio connections directly to the Zvox. The sound quality on the Z-Base 555 was good but it didn't quite live up to our expectations. The Zvox really excels as a TV speaker. It does a great job with dialogue clarity and there are tons of useful adjustments right on the remote to help you dial on the sound just how you like it. Whereas not quite as good as with music or loud, dynamic action movies. So, if you're looking for a more bona-fide home theater experience, you probably gonna want to look elsewhere. All together, the Zvox Z-Base 555 has a nearly perfect sound bar design and its feature set is solid. For that $400, it cost more than most budget sound bars and we expected that it sound a little better. I'm Matthew Moskovciak and this is the Zvox Z-Base 555.