Q: My husband is very hard of hearing, and it is really getting in the way of his enjoyment of television. He can't understand when people talk, no matter what we do with the sound settings.
We have seen your columns about ZVOX soundbars with the AccuVoice feature and are considering the AV200 AccuVoice TV speaker for $249 or the SB400 Soundbar for $399. Which would you recommend?
A: Although it is smaller and less expensive, the ZVOX AV200 TV speaker is the better choice for voices. The deeper bass of the larger soundbars can obscure the dialogue just a little bit, even when the AccuVoice feature is used, but the ZVOX is optimized for dialogue.
There was an option you did not ask about that is probably the best choice for you. ZVOX also offers the AV205 TV speaker, which is specially designed to help those who are hard of hearing. It is an adjustable version of the AV200 that can be fine-tuned for the type and severity of hearing loss for a specific listener. This fine tuning is done with a remote control that is provided with the speaker.
For maximum results, the AV205 is best tuned by an audiologist or hearing aid professional, but it can be tuned by the user with an app called the Mimi Hearing Test. You download the app, put on headphones and take the test, which lasts about six minutes. After the test is completed, Mimi provides an audiogram, which you then match as closely as possible to the options in the AV205. The word is that it's extremely effective.
Your timing is good because you can buy an AV205 at a big discount right now. Typically it sells for $349.99, but ZVOX has a $130 savings coupon code AV205130 that is active until Oct. 21, bringing the price down to $219.99. The code works at both zvoxaudio.com and Amazon. The regular AV200 model is on sale for $199.99, but with only a $20 difference, I would get the AV205. If you don't use the extra settings, it performs just like the AV200, and you will have the audiology tuning feature available in the future should you ever need it.
Protect your hearing
Speaking of hearing loss, you are risking damaging your hearing permanently whenever you are exposed to loud noises. I was once told that if you go to a loud rock concert, you will leave with a little less hearing than you went in with.
Audiophiles take that threat very seriously. So I'm a big advocate of earplugs at concerts. And now I'm a big advocate of the new Vibes High Fidelity Earplugs ($23.99, discovervibes.com), which are designed to preserve all of the sound and clarity of a concert while reducing the volume so you can listen comfortably and protect your hearing at the same time. It's a win-win.
Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.