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Zvox 315 review:

Zvox 315

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The 315 is designed to hook up to the variable output or headphone jack on your TV--or any audio source, for that matter (PC, radio, CD player, iPod, or MP3 player). It will also work with line-out audio connections, but then you'll need to use the 315's rear-mounted volume knob--rather than the source device--to control the sound level. Whichever connection route you choose, all of the necessary cables are included, so you won't have to raid the local RadioShack to get started.

We watched the film noir-ish thriller Angel Heart on DVD and enjoyed the 315's wonderfully full-bodied sound. It didn't take very long to realize the 315 was far ahead of competitors such as the Soundmatters Mainstage all-in-one speaker ($299). The DVD's ominous atmospheres were well served by the 315's room-filling bass; it sounds like a much larger set of speakers. Adjusting its Phase Cue knob spreads the faux surround sound forward and out, so we weren't aware of the speakers' close left to right proximity. Stereo imaging doesn't overtly betray its trim dimensions, and it surely sounds richer and more substantial than Bose's iPod-only SoundDock while listening to music. That said, CDs weren't quite as satisfying as DVDs, because the sound was more boomboxlike, but it was still quite respectable.

Zvox also makes a smaller single-speaker unit called the Zvox Mini. Both models retail for the identical $199 price tag, but the Mini's smaller dimensions make it a worthwhile option if you're looking for pressed for space or need a transportable speaker. We didn't have both Zvox models on hand concurrently for a direct comparison, but it's safe to say the 315's larger speaker will play louder and produce substantially more bass. That said, if you want a downsized version of the 315 that still packs a sonic punch, the Mini is no slouch, and it includes the added convenience of a remote control and front-panel control knobs for easier adjustment of the volume and surround effect.

We're not about to tell you the 315 sounds like a top-rated HTIB, but it's a whole lot smaller and much easier to set up and use. As one-box solutions go, the Zvox 315 is the go-to budget champ.

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