What We Like
- A nice, simple design which—if it meets your use case—does a good job.
- Powerful bass that exceeds most of the competition.
- Meaningful options when it comes to audio modes.
What We Don’t Like
- Can’t be wall-mounted, and the bulkiness can provide placement issues.
ZVOX (pronounced zee-vox) takes its name from a local radio station, KVOX, at which the father of Tom Hannaher, the founder, worked during Tom’s childhood. Hannaher credits visiting the studios as a boy with his lifelong fascination with audio equipment.
The current hotness in the soundbar industry is, quite in contrast with most of the techy industry, a trend towards chunkier, thicker builds known colloquially as ‘sound bases’ which cram more in than their more slimline predecessors. Luckily for ZVOX, they were significantly ahead of the curve in this regard. They’ve been producing models in this sound base style since as early as the mid noughties, and the fact that the market has swung in that direction has worked out great for them as it’s definitively where their expertise lies.
The SoundBase 570 is about the same height as the majority of soundbars. This is good news, and means it should fit below your TV without obstructing your vision as it its intended placement. However, what you will immediately notice is that it is also significantly more deep than many competing models coming in at almost 15 inches. This poses some minor challenges when it comes to ideal placement of the device, but our approach was just to use it as a stand for the TV which will work depending on the size (and height) of your TV set. If your TV is wall mounted, ZVOX suggests that you place the device on a nearby surface rather than mounting it as well.
In terms of its aesthetic, there isn’t a whole lot to say. It’s a simple, black exterior which includes a couple of handy displays to alert you to things like volume level and which input mode you are currently making use of.
Let’s begin with a minor gripe: the remote control. It is something of a recurring theme when it comes to audio equipment that manufacturers often skimp on the build quality of the remote despite it being a fairly vital part of the set-up. We wouldn’t go so far as to say that ZVOX have under invested in the design and build quality of this remote, but it does look a little like it has fallen out of a portal straight from 1985. It does the job, but it will look out of place on the coffee table.
As you will find at this price range, there is some amount of customization on offer courtesy of three surround-sound modes which have a significant impact on the listening experience. The first mode boosts dialogue and speech whilst cutting back on background sound. The second aims to balance dialogue and background sound. And the third aims to develop the surround-sound feel with less of an emphasis on the spoken elements of the mix.
Bluetooth is also included so that you can stream music from any of your Bluetooth enabled devices.
So, having opted for a bulkier design which has obvious drawbacks when it comes to placement within a space, have ZVOX managed to provide enough of a performance upside to result in a net positive? On the whole, we would say that they have. The most prominent element of the performance of the SoundBase 570 is its bass response which, given that 5.25” subwoofer and plenty of space to resonate in, far exceeds the output which similarly priced models are capable of.
In fact, the sound quality is strong throughout the mix. Highs are crisp and punchy, and the mids (especially when it comes to vocals) are clear and precise. There is something of a drawback, however, in that the SoundBase 570 applies surround sound to everything it plays. This means that you can occasionally lose out on some precision and clarity in terms of the overall experience. While each separate area of the track is well performed, the net result can be a little muddy at times, and loud movie scenes (such as a gunfight) can feel difficult to distinguish in terms of what sounds are happening and where they are taking place.
In all of our tests, Bluetooth performance was flawless and worked well across a variety of devices at different ranges.
ZVOX has done well to be ahead of the curve when it comes to the sound base trend, and their expertise shows in a product which excels in the two areas TV speakers struggle most: tinny treble and underwhelming base.