Zvox Z-Base 430 HSD review: Zvox Z-Base 430 HSD

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MSRP: $449.99

The Good The Zvox 430 HSD sound bar delivers big, dynamic sound on movies and offers adjustable controls for treble, bass, and stereo width. Connectivity includes three rear inputs (analog, optical, and coaxial) and a front panel minijack.

The Bad The Zvox 430 HSD has a relatively large and boxy design. Its digital inputs don't get as loud as its analog inputs; all rear audio inputs are always active, so sound gets mixed with devices that are always on, like DVRs; and the remote's button layout is uninspired.

The Bottom Line The Zvox 430 HSD is bigger and more expensive than most sound bars, but delivers impressively large sound for movies.

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7.0 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7

The market for affordable sound bars has exploded over the last two years, but Zvox has been in the game since 2004. The Zvox 430 HSD is one of the more conventional-looking sound bars in the company's line, although it's bigger and boxier than what you'll find made by mainstream competitors. The upside is that this bulk allows the 430 HSD to deliver big sound for movies, which is what you're paying for with its relatively high $450 price tag. In all, we think Zvox's uniquely designed Z-Base units are a better choice for most buyers, but if their pedestal design won't work in your home theater and you want the Zvox sound, the 430 HSD is a solid alternative.

While we're big fans of the Zvox Z-Base's pedestal design, the 430 HSD has a more traditional sound-bar look, intended to sit in front of your HDTV or be mounted on a wall. It features an MDF cabinet with a black matte finish and the speaker grille covers nearly the entire front panel. There's no display on the front panel, save for a blue LED in the speaker grille that lights up when it receives a remote command. While we liked the minimalist look, the lack of display means you never quite know if the volume is maxed out or not.

Compared with inexpensive competitors like the Samsung HW-C450 and the Sony HT-CT150, the Zvox is considerably larger (30.4 inches wide, 5 inches deep, 5.7 inches high) and boxier, but that's not surprising considering Zvox's focus on performance over style. If you're just looking for a decent sound-bar system that stays out of sight, the 430 HSD probably isn't for you, but those who value sound quality will tolerate its bulkier design.

The included remote gets the job done, but could use improvement. There are only 11 buttons total, but they are bunched together and similarly sized. While we longed for some button rockers and even a basic red button for power, the 430 HSD is simple enough that the uninspired remote is only a minor setback.

Setup and features
Around the back of the 430 HSD, you'll notice three audio inputs: optical, coaxial, and analog. It's easy to assume that you can connect three separate devices directly to the 430 HSD, but it's not quite that simple.

Instead of traditional input switching, the 430 HSD has all three inputs "live" all the time. That's not a problem if you diligently turn off each of your devices when you're not using it, but with always-on DVRs the design is more problematic, since you'll be mixing TV audio when you're trying to watch a DVD. The alternative is to connect all your devices to your HDTV, then connect your HDTV's audio output to the 430 HSD. For most basic home theaters, that arrangement should work fine; just remember to turn off your TV's speakers in the TV's setup menu.

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