|ZVOX 425 Single-Cabinet Surround Speaker System|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Jim Swantko|
|Friday, 01 August 2008|
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Sometimes in life, less is more. It seems the older I get, the more often I find myself muttering this popular cliché. All too often, the electronics industry does not share my affection for this philosophy, thus leaving me pulling my hair out over AV system complexities that I never dreamed possible or realized were in any way necessary. If you pay any attention to consumer electronics, as does any reader of AVRev.com, you know that there is a never-ending stream of new products always trumping the previous version with new features and complexities. Just when you think all sanity has been lost, along comes a company like ZVOX Audio. They are the proverbial breath of fresh air that this industry sometimes lacks.
The company was created by people from some of the best-known brands in the audio arena, such as Boston Acoustics, Advent, Cambridge Soundworks and Genesis. Their philosophy is to keep their products simple, make them of high quality and offer them at affordable prices. Easier said than done, but stick with me here, as we are talking about how to make sound from your increasingly waifish HDTV sound thick and rich like Barry White (before all that fried chicken tragically caught up with him).
While perusing the ZVOX website, it became apparent to me that these guys are straight shooters. They shun complicated digital processing because it adds weirdness to the sound. They proudly state that they are analog people first and foremost and, while they do use some digital circuitry in their products, they do as little electronic tinkering with signals as possible, because doing so reduces musical accuracy. They use real wood enclosures and high-quality drivers, because they simply sound better than cheaper alternatives. I can tell these are the kind of people that I would get along with well.
The ZVOX 425 that I am reviewing is their “halo” single-cabinet surround speaker system, which retails for $699.99. It measures 36-and-a-half inches wide, five-and-three-quarters inches deep and seven-and-three-quarters inches high and weighs 25 pounds. The black cabinet is made of medium-density fiberboard, rather than plastic, which nearly all of their competitors use. It feels more like a piece of well-made furniture than a budget-minded speaker system. It’s attractive, understated and blends easily with any décor.
The cabinet is filled with five three-and-one-quarter-inch main drivers with high-end features, such as ferrofluid cooling and Neodymium magnets. On either end of the main cabinet, you will find a four-inch-long throw subwoofer in its own ported enclosure. The system is bi-amplified with a total of 133 watts of power.
All the connections to the unit are in the back, where you will find two RCA inputs and a subwoofer line out. The power cord, main power switch and S.A.N.E. (Sudden Audio Noise Eliminator) control are also accessed on the rear panel. S.A.N.E. is an adjustable circuit that compresses sudden loud noises, which are very common in television and movies. This circuit prevents you from disturbing others who may be studying or sleeping by normalizing the large dynamics of explosions or crashes.
The front of the unit has a lighted blue power switch, two buttons for volume and two for PhaseCue adjustment. PhaseCue is a proprietary technique that manipulates the phases of various drivers to trick the ear into believing that sounds are coming from different locations than from where they are actually emanating. There is also a mini-jack input for portable devices, such as iPods. The credit card-sized remote control provides all the functions found on the front of the cabinet and adds mute, bass and treble adjustments.