Zvox Accuvoice AV157 evaluate

“It is no magnificence, however the AV157 will reveal the entire dialog you have been lacking.”

Small footprint

Straightforward connections and setup

Tremendous-clear and adjustable dialog

Costly for a small speaker

No wi-fi connections for music

We’ve been including audio system to our house TV setups for years. First two audio system for stereo sound, then 4, then 5, and on and on. A few of us have full 7.2.four programs with Dolby Atmos that do a powerful job at mimicking the movie show expertise at house. With a rising variety of soundbars, our selections for larger, higher sound are extra quite a few than ever. However as we envelop ourselves in additional, are we truly listening to what issues? When actors, information anchors, or interviewees communicate, are we listening to what they’re saying?

Judging by the massive upswing in using subtitles for the whole lot from Netflix, to YouTube, to Fb movies, the reply isn’t any — and it’s not as a result of we’re going deaf.

It seems that extra audio system don’t translate into extra intelligible dialogue; in reality, it seems to make it more durable to listen to, particularly if the film or present’s producers haven’t paid shut consideration to the standard of their audio combine or if there’s quite a lot of bass.

So it is sensible that Zvox, an organization that’s closely targeted on bettering the readability of TV sound, has been capable of carve out a distinct segment for itself making soundbar-esque audio system with one purpose in thoughts: Making speech simpler to listen to.

Its newest product is the $300 Zvox Accuvoice AV157 TV Speaker, which packs 12 ranges of Zvox’s speech enhancement expertise.

Is it the TV dialog enhancer you’ve been ready for? Let’s discover out.

What’s within the field?

Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

The AV157 is available in an simply recyclable cardboard field. A couple of polybags containing cables and a polyethylene sleeve for the speaker could must go within the rubbish relying on recycling amenities the place you reside, however in any other case, the packaging is fairly environmentally pleasant.

Contained in the field, you’ll discover the speaker, a distant management, batteries, three sorts of audio cables (optical, Three.5mm analog, and RCA-to-Three.5mm), an influence provide, and a really clearly illustrated quick-start information.


Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

The AV157 is offered in three colours: Black, a grayish-pewter shade referred to as titanium, and “espresso,” which because the title suggests is a medium brown. No matter which one you decide, the colour solely impacts the looks of the speaker’s cupboard — the entrance steel grille is at all times black.

The cupboard floor is shiny, textured plastic. Whereas it’s completely strong and well-built, the general appear and feel don’t convey a lot in the best way of high-end high quality. It doesn’t seem like you anticipate a $300 speaker to look — in reality, it couldn’t be extra generic trying.

The upside to its plain-Jane façade is, whether or not you place it on a floor in entrance of your TV or wall-mount it (two threaded holes on the again make that attainable) the AV157 is straightforward to disregard, which is ideal — I’m very a lot of the opinion that accent audio system needs to be heard, not seen.

It’s concerning the dimension and form of a giant center-channel speaker (for individuals who are acquainted with 5.1 setups), which suggests it’s tiny when in comparison with even the smallest of soundbars.

At 17 inches extensive and simply shy of three inches tall, it’s a great deal narrower than the $400 Sonos Beam, which at simply 27 inches is already fairly small. It’s the identical width because the Panasonic Soundslayer and solely an inch taller.

There aren’t any bodily buttons on the speaker and apart from a small Zvox emblem, nothing interrupts the just-a-speaker design.

Even the big, easy-to-read digital show which signifies quantity degree, enter, and sound mode is hidden behind the grille, coming to life for only a few seconds so you’ll be able to see the outcomes of your distant instructions earlier than turning itself off once more.

Across the again, you’ll discover the sparse connection choices: One optical port, one Three.5mm analog enter, and one headphone and/or subwoofer output. For some purpose, Zvox’s product web page for the AV157 reveals the three.5mm analog enter as suitable with an optical miniplug cable, however I can let you know for certain this isn’t correct.

Connecting the AV157 to your TV couldn’t be simpler.

These inputs, mixed with the included cables, allow you to join the AV157 to just about any supply so long as that supply isn’t HDMI-only. Although uncommon, there are some TVs which might be starting to drop help for analog and optical outputs in favor of simply HDMI ARC and eARC, so it’s greatest to double-check your TV’s outputs.

The included infrared distant management is equally nondescript design-wise: Only a small, sturdy, rubberized slab with huge, easy-to-read labels and easy-to-press buttons. Because of the rubber membrane protecting the buttons, the distant ought to be capable of stand up to encounters with the occasional spilled drink much better than regular remotes.

It could be good if the distant’s buttons had been backlit, however the excessive distinction of the brilliant white labels towards the black of the membrane remains to be legible in all however the darkest of rooms.

Setup and connections

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Connecting the AV157 to your TV couldn’t be simpler. Merely choose the suitable cable (I like to recommend the optical cable for the very best outcomes), plug the ends of the cable into the corresponding ports in your TV and on the speaker, plug within the energy adapter, and also you’re accomplished.

You need to by no means should guess what quantity degree you’re at, and the large, shiny show means you’ll by no means be unsure.

There’s no Bluetooth, no Wi-Fi, and no apps. This may occasionally restrict the AV157’s performance, however there’s one thing to be mentioned for a bit of expertise that works the second you plug it in.

Which isn’t to say you’ll be able to’t play music by way of the AV157 — you’ll be able to. However you’ll must hook up your music supply to one of many obtainable inputs, which can have been wonderful within the iPod period, however as of late it’s a little bit of drag.

One intelligent answer is to hook up the AV157 to an Amazon Echo gadget as an exterior speaker through the three.5mm jack. So long as your favourite streaming music service is supported by Alexa, you’re good to go — no distant wanted. Moreover, lots of the fashionable music streaming apps are supported by the numerous good TV working programs. Navigating music in your TV would possibly sound uncommon, but it surely works.

Ease of use

Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

The included distant is a snap to make use of. Button presses produce quick responses.

I’m an enormous fan of the four-digit alphanumeric show. You need to by no means should guess what quantity degree you’re at, or within the case of the AV157, which voice enhancement mode and degree you’re on, and the large, shiny show means you’ll by no means be unsure. An adjustment for the brightness of the show could be a pleasant further, particularly when utilizing the AV157 in very shiny or darkish rooms, but it surely’s by no means on for lengthy sufficient for it to matter a lot.

You need to use the AV157 together with your present distant for issues like quantity up/down and mute, however not all of its capabilities will probably be accessible. For that reason, it is best to positively hold the manufacturing facility distant useful.

Pretty much as good because the distant is for fundamental options, the speaker’s deeper settings could possibly be simpler to make use of.

Though the labels are simple to learn and the buttons simple to press, a few of the options (like switching between Accuvoice and Supervoice modes) require a long-press on a button, as an alternative of every mode getting its personal discrete button.

That is very true of the mysterious “Different Settings” button which helps you to entry three completely different changes: Bass, treble, and output leveling, however requires that you just cycle by way of every adjustment, utilizing the amount up/down to switch the settings.

On advanced gadgets like A/V receivers, I get it — there are lots of of settings and you may solely have so many buttons. However the AV157 doesn’t do this a lot, and there seems to be numerous room on the distant for just a few extra buttons.

Nonetheless, these settings will probably be of the “set it and neglect it” selection for most individuals, so whereas I’d want simpler entry to them, it’s not a deal-breaker by any means.

Sound high quality

Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

The Accuvoice AV157’s main mission could also be clearer dialog, but it surely’s a surprisingly good all-round speaker for all types of TV audio, with larger, bolder sound than its tiny body suggests.

Zvox’s guarantees of “room-filling 3D sound” may be a tad optimistic — particularly when evaluating the AV157 to what a funds soundbar with a wi-fi subwoofer can provide — however there’s little doubt that if you pump up the bass ranges and use the third degree of the encompass sound mode, there’s greater than sufficient energy and vary to take pleasure in Hollywood blockbusters just like the Marvel’s Avengers motion pictures.

Utilizing simply the usual six ranges of Accuvoice enhancement is sufficient to make any speech far simpler to listen to.

It will probably additionally get remarkably loud if that’s what you want. Close to the highest of the amount vary, bass begins to backside out, making a slight knocking inside the cupboard, however that’s to be anticipated with a speaker of this dimension.

Extra importantly, although, it offers you an enormous quantity of management over the power to listen to dialogue.

Utilizing simply the usual six ranges of Accuvoice enhancement is sufficient to make any speech far simpler to listen to. The second you interact AC 1 — the primary degree — music, sound results, and just about all different non-voice audio dip noticeably whereas dialogue jumps ahead.

The result’s so stark and produces what seems like an enormous increase in quantity, chances are you’ll even attain for the distant to show the amount down after getting into Accuvoice mode.

Associated: How Zvox’s Accuvoice tech makes voices simpler to listen to

Every successive degree amplifies this impact additional till voices have achieved an virtually achingly shiny quantity of readability. Shift the AV157 into Supervoice mode and the impact is much more pronounced. As somebody who, fortunately, doesn’t undergo from any vital listening to loss, I can’t testify as to how effectively these modes will work for somebody who does have listening to challenges, but it surely’s onerous to think about how voices may get any clearer. By the point you hit Supervoice degree 6, the dialog is so sharp and shiny, you’ll be able to barely give attention to anything.

Extremely, that is accomplished with solely a tiny quantity of distortion creeping in — and solely on the highest ranges of increase.

It takes some getting used to, and it’s value remembering there’s no free lunch right here: With a purpose to make dialog clearer, the AV157 de-emphasizes all different parts of the soundtrack.

As an experiment, I ran the AV157 from my TV’s optical port and my 5.1.2 house theater system from the HDMI ARC output concurrently to see if I may have my cake and eat it, too. It kinda labored, however because of a small but noticeable delay between the 2 units of audio system, I couldn’t hold it going.

As for music on the AV157, it’s surprisingly good. I examined it utilizing Tidal on an Apple TV 4K feeding into my TV through HDMI. What actually surprised me is that the room-filling 3D sound which Zvox guarantees is far more obvious with music than with film or TV soundtracks.

As you’d think about with a speaker constructed for speech enhancement, vocals are ultra-clear, even on the entry-level encompass sound mode. The AV157 can’t fairly compete with the Sonos Beam for music — it lacks the Beam’s heat and resonant bass — however most genres sound excellent.

You simply should watch out with some bass-heavy tracks. Put up Malone and Swae Lee’s Sunflower is an efficient instance of a music that, even at reasonable quantity, manages to exceed the AV157’s capacity to breed bass, with extra of that knocking impact I discussed earlier.

Our take

The Zvox Accuvoice AV157 is an efficient approach to get a lot better sound out of your TV through a really small speaker. However the place it actually excels is in speech enhancement — one thing you merely can’t get out of any regular soundbar at any worth.

Is there a greater various?

If speech enhancement isn’t crucial, there are many nice soundbars that may make your TV sound manner higher. And if a small speaker is necessary to you, the $400 Sonos Beam is a superb place to start out.

However, if higher dialogue is your purpose, the one actual competitors to the AV157 is one in every of Zvox’s different TV audio system, just like the $250 AV155 or the tiny, $170 AV100 Mini. Every improves voice intelligibility, however solely the AV157 has all twelve ranges of the mixed Accuvoice and Supervoice modes.

How lengthy will it final?

Zvox’s guarantee is just one yr, however I’m guessing that if one thing’s going to go flawed with the AV157, it would occur in a short time. In any other case, this speaker ought to offer you a few years of use. There’s no battery to interchange and if the facility adapter ever dies, it’s an inexpensive accent. Even when the distant had been to cease functioning, Zvox solely fees $15 for a substitute.

Do you have to purchase it?

Sure. For many who discover it more and more obscure what’s being mentioned in TV reveals and flicks, the AV157 is one of the best ways to enhance intelligibility with out resorting to subtitles.

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