Q. We have a living room with a 49-inch TV on the wall and small Boston speakers on cabinets next to the TV area. (The Boston speakers were in the home when I bought it in 2008.) We are older and don’t really have hearing problems, but fairly often we really have a hard time understanding voices on TV.
I know you like ZVOX, but someone suggested a Sonos soundbar. We have Sonos for music, but it isn’t working! It is rather difficult to set up and we are not tech savvy so the soundbar could be a problem. Would you stick with ZVOX? Would you add or change anything?
—B.H., Wayzata, Minnesota
A. The world has gone largely to soundbars but a pair of bookshelf speakers, with a speaker placed on either side of the television, makes for a great television sound system. All you need is a Dolby Digital receiver with an optical digital input, and these can be found on Craigslist or at resale shops for $50 or less. Just connect the optical output of the TV to the receiver and everything you play on the TV will play through the speakers. If the speakers are good (as your Bostons most likely are) the sound will be excellent, and may sound better with music than a soundbar as well. A good friend of mine set up such system with a pair of Wharfedale bookshelf speakers and a Yamaha receiver he was able to purchase for $50. Anyone who has a pair of good speakers in their home that are going unused should consider repurposing them for television sound.
Sonos makes good products but you are definitely paying a premium for the name and the interconnected nature of the system, which is ideal for whole-house audio but as you have found, can be rather complicated to set up and use. You are not having much success with the Sonos product you have so I suggest you look elsewhere.
One reason ZVOX gets a lot of mentions in the column is that it is such a good fit for the newspaper demographic, which includes a lot of older people and others who may not be tech-savvy. The AccuVoice feature found on ZVOX products is their claim to fame, and it is designed specifically to make television dialogue easy to understand. Their products are also very easy to set up, with a single optical connection running from the TV to the soundbar. If better TV dialogue is what you are after you won’t go wrong with a ZVOX soundbar or TV speaker. I suggest checking out ZVOX’s SB380 soundbar and AV357 TV speaker, both currently on sale for $249.99.
Another reason ZVOX is a popular column feature is their creative promotions, and both myself and my readers love deals! ZVOX recently introduced their innovative new AV30 earbuds with AccuVoice. The AV30 earbuds include active noise cancellation and a special ambient mode, which uses microphones to reproduce outside noise in the earbud so you can use them while jogging or riding a bike and not be isolated from outside sounds. My initial impressions are very positive and a full review is coming soon, but for now I wanted to tell readers about the two promotions, which are exceptional.
The AV30 wireless earbuds are $119.99 but can be purchased for $69.99 with the promo code SAVEAV30. With the code SAVEBUNDLE you can buy the AV30 earbuds and AV52 headphones for $119.98 (put both in the cart) saving $100 off the combined price of $219.99. The codes are effective until June 13 at zvox.com.
(Contact Don Lindich at www.soundadvicenews.com and use the “submit question” link on that site.)
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