Q: I know you like the new ZVOX soundbars. I'm in the market for a high-end soundbar with subwoofer and am looking at the ZVOX and Yamaha lines. It will be mounted under the TV on the fireplace in a decent-sized room. Are there any other soundbars I should consider, regardless of price?
A: There are no self-contained soundbars I prefer over the new ZVOX units. They simply are the best, and the built-in subwoofers deliver deep bass without a separate subwoofer.
I've reviewed expensive high-end self-contained soundbars with HDMI inputs and separate subwoofers that, most experts would think, should be superior based on specifications. In actual use, however, I don't find the sound to be noticeably better than ZVOX (zvoxaudio.com), and a lot of them do not sound as good. The HDMI operation can be fussy and quirky. I've come to prefer simple connections with self-contained units, as found on the ZVOX units. You might get a bit better sound from lossless audio from Blu-ray with a high-end HDMI soundbar, but that is a big "might" and I don't think the extra cables and fuss are worth it.
You might want to consider the $699 ZVOX SB700, the largest of the new soundbars. It produces quite strong bass and loud volume levels.
If you want the highest possible soundbar performance without regard to cost or complexity, the answer is an unpowered soundbar speaker and powered subwoofer with an HDMI A/V receiver. My top pick is the GoldenEar Technology SuperCinema 3-D Array (goldenear.com), which comes in two models. The Array X is $999, and the larger Array XL is $1,599. Match them to a GoldenEar subwoofer from $499 to $999 based on your room size.
You don't need a big receiver to drive the soundbar. The $499 Marantz NR1506 (marantz.com) has six HDMI inputs, is easy to set up and operate and sounds great.
This package will cost between $2,000 and $3,100 depending on the soundbar and subwoofer you choose (plus speaker wire, subwoofer cable and HDMI cables). This system will deliver sound as pristine as it gets, along with very high volume levels, deep bass and wide-ranging dynamics. It is the ultimate no-compromise solution for home theater buffs and serious music lovers.
The year's best
This week's question is an excellent introduction to my 2016 product of the year. People who read the column regularly won't be surprised by my choice: the amazing new line of soundbars from ZVOX. Sharing the award are the ZVOX SB400, SB500, and SB700 soundbars and the AV200 AccuVoice TV Speaker.
Of all the new products I tested in 2016, these impressed me the most. And more important, readers have embraced and loved them as much as I have. They are beautifully made of high-quality materials and are easy to set up and use. The sound quality is outstanding, with deep, satisfying bass from the full-sized soundbars, and they can play loudly if desired. The AccuVoice circuity makes television dialogue easy to understand, solving the greatest problem faced by TV viewers today. They sound great with music, too. Simply put, the product is tremendously satisfying in every respect while staying affordable.
Send questions to Don Lindich at email@example.com. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.