CNET First Look
Zvox's bar sounds big, but isn't perfectThe Zvox Z-Base 420 offers an uncluttered look and solid sound at a budget price, but its quirks might give some buyers pause.
Hey. I'm Matthew Moskovciak from CNET, and we are taking a look at the Zvox's Z-Base 420. This is a budget price sound bar that's currently selling for $300. Now, Zvox originated the pedestal sound bar design, which lets you place a sound bar under your TV rather than in front of it. It's a great look with a lot less clutter, and you never have to worry about the sound bar blocking your TV's remote sensor. The Z-Base 420's cabinet is made out of wood and it has a boxy look with sharp edges that's a little less sleek than some of the other pedestal sound bars that are around in the market now. One of its great features is its front panel display which is hidden behind the speaker grill and it's only visible when it's in use. A lot of sound bars don't have a front panel display at all, and it's really nice on the Zvox to get some visual feedback when you're adjusting the volume or making bass and treble adjustments. The included remote is a slight step up from those thin credit card style remotes that we're used to getting on sound bars, but it's still isn't that much of an improvement. The buttons are mushy and they're pretty cluttered. So, you may end up replacing it with a solid universal remote. Around back are the inputs including 2 analog inputs, 1 optical, 1 coaxial plasters and many jack input up on the front. That's more inputs than to get on a lot of competitors, although, you may end up not using those extra ports if you use your TV as a switcher. Sound quality on the Zvox is a bit of a mix pack. On one hand, it delivers a big rich sound particularly on movies and it clearly outclasses the more expensive Bose Cello. It also has an excellent dialog emphasis option, which boosts dialog, so it's easier to hear voices over background sounds and music. On the other hand, the Zvox did occasionally destroy at high volumes, which is something that never happened on the other pedestal sound bars that we tested. Along similar lines, that cabinet of the Zvox has a tendency to vibrate, and in our setup, it actually made the TV audibly buzz at times. And that's not gonna happen with every TV, but again, it didn't happen with any of the other pedestal sound bars that we tested. So ultimately, that's why the Zvox Z-Base 420 is more of mix recommendation. It has a bigger sound than the Bose and it has a great budget price. But buyer should be aware that the can sometimes vibrate and distort. Locally, Zvox has a 30-day money back guarantee, so you can give it a shot in your setup, and see how it works. I'm Matthew Moskovciak, and this is Zvox Z-base 420.