Why You Should Have Fully Inflated Sound For The Big Game.

Posted by Tom Hannaher , Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Are you old enough to remember the tinny-sounding metal-cabinet speakers they used at drive-in movies?  Remember how horrible they sounded?
It was ironic that the biggest movie screens had the worst sound systems. Kind of like driving a Porsche 911 with bald, bargain-basement tires.
Even more ironic is that you’re about to watch the biggest football game of the year on a TV with a gorgeous big picture – and sound that is almost exactly as good as those drive-in movie speakers. Yes, lurking in that giant TV are two itsy bitsy tiny little speakers that are aimed at your floor. If you like your football games sounding deflated, those little speakers are great. But for fully inflated audio, you need to add a sound system.
Can’t afford a good sound system?  Hook up some old computer speakers to your TV.  Or that old stereo system that’s gathering dust in your basement. Heck, even a cheap boombox will sound 100% better than your TV speakers.

If you have a good budget and don’t mind complexity, you can buy a component 5.1 system. But if you’re careful with your money, and you hate wires and complication, order a ZVOX SoundBase home theater system. Great sound. One cabinet. One wire. One page owner’s manual. And we’ll give you 60 days to try it out in your own home.

How To Turn Your TV Sound System Into A Giant Hearing Aid.

Posted by Tom Hannaher , Monday, January 19, 2015
If you sometimes have trouble understanding dialog on TV shows, you are not alone. People over the age of 55 are now the largest population group in the country – and most of us have at least minor hearing disability. My first rock concert was seeing The Who at the Fargo Civic Auditorium in 1966. I think my ears are still ringing.
Plus TV makers insist of finding ways to make TV sound systems worse as the picture gets better.
But the good news is a remarkable feature that we have spent 10 years developing: AccuVoice.  When you push the AccuVoice button on the remote control (or “Dialog Emphasis” button on older models), you turn your ZVOX system into the world’s largest hearing aid.  AccuVoice uses technology very similar to hearing aids to boost voice audibility – without ruining the music, sound effects and other parts of the soundtrack.
It works well. Really, really well. Even if your hearing impairment is very slight, you’ll hear a big difference in voice clarity. But don’t believe me. We’ll let you try a ZVOX system in your own home for 60 days so you can hear for yourself. If you aren’t amazed by AccuVoice, return the system for a full refund.

But we think you will be amazed.

My Sound Bar Needs A Wireless Subwoofer, Right?

Posted by Tom Hannaher , Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Not necessarily.
Yes, good bass plays a very important role in TV sound. Without accurate bass, movies sound tinny and football games sound like nobody showed up.
But a well-designed sound bar or SoundBase® can produce remarkable bass without the use of an external subwoofer. It’s not easy, and requires quality long-excursion bass speakers, good amplifiers, fine-tuned equalization and, above all, an experienced speaker designer.
Jarl Salmela, ZVOX’s VP of Product Development and our chief engineer, has over 25 years of experience in designing amplified speaker systems. His latest designs, the ZVOX Platinum Series SoundBase systems, deliver startling amounts of clean bass from 3” thick cabinets – some of which hold up to three built-in powered subwoofers. (The Platinum 670 and 770 models both deliver clean bass down to a remarkable 34 Hz.)
What are the benefits of a home theater system without an external subwoofer?  Setup is simpler.  Your TV room is less cluttered. And it saves money – two cabinets, two power supplies, two power cords, bigger shipping cartons, higher shipping expenses…these all add up. All things being equal, you can get better sound for less money from a single-cabinet home theater system.

ZVOX isn’t the only company that has designed quality home theater systems that don’t rely on external subwoofers, but we’ve designed more of them than anyone else.  We created the category of the single-cabinet home theater system – whether it be a sound bar or a SoundBase. And so far, that’s all we make. That’s because we really like how they turn out.
 Click here to learn more about ZVOX speaker technology.

Movies So Loud, You Can't Hear Them!

Posted by Dave Pettibone , Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Ever since I was a kid, my family has bonded over watching, re-watching, quoting and re-quoting many of our favorite movies. We’ve seen Stand By Me, The Princess Bride, and Forrest Gump so many times that our nightly dinner conversations or summertime car trips rarely occured without me or my Dad temporarily becoming “Forrest, Forrest Gu-ump”, or perhaps Vizzini from The Princess Bride (“Inconceivable!”) for an interjection of a classic one-liner.  If your family is like mine, then this Holiday season will have you heading to the theater with the hopes of seeing a new flick that could join the ranks of your family’s favorite quotable movies.

Unfortunately, the prevailing trend in Hollywood films may render this tougher than ever as directors and sound mixers routinely relegate dialog clarity to the back seat in favor of giving center stage to thunderous special effects and hyper-realistic environmental ambience (Think: action dream scenes in Inception and a crowded cocktail party scene in The Social Network, respectively).  In either case, the sound mix makes it incredibly difficult to catch every word, and could force you and your family to continue to quote Forrest Gump for another two decades (ok, maybe that’s just my family…)

A quick Google search for the phrase “movies too loud” reveals that this problem is not imaginary and has been creeping steadily for at least a decade. A curious reader could easily find a dozen or so articles, all intending to expose bad Hollywood sound mixes that seem to favor a director’s artistic vision of power and emotion over the audience’s listening experience.  Reportedly, audiences for Christopher Nolan’s new space epic Interstellar were left buzzing from the sheer onslaught of sonic power while simultaneously whispering to their neighbor, “What did they just say??”  Jeff Baker from OregonLive.com reports that, according to Nolan, the sound is “mixed just the way he wants it.”  If that’s true, and we still can’t hear the movie’s dialog in the very environment for which the soundtrack was designed, is there any hope for clear dialog when Interstellar makes it to BluRay in our living room?

Luckily, there is hope! Our SoundBase systems are equipped with AccuVoice™ dialog clarity technology, a feature that quiets the background noise and boosts the vocals and dialog so you can actually hear what is being said. It does wonders for people who suffer from hearing loss, but also comes in handy when you are watching movies with poorly-mixed audio soundtracks.

If you find yourself on the couch with family this holiday season complaining that Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean fame sounds like he’s truly three sheets to the wind, maybe there should be a ZVOX system under the family Christmas tree this year.​

Electronics Stores in the Ron Burgundy Era

Posted by Tom Hannaher , Thursday, May 29, 2014
When I got into the audio business in 1971, that's exactly what it was -- the AUDIO business. I worked for Dick Schulze at a chain of Minnesota stereo stores that would evolve into Best Buy, but at the time was called....The Sound of Music.
I did not work at an electronics store. I worked at a stereo store. We sold receivers, turntables, speakers, open-reel tape decks and cassette decks. No VCRs. No DVD players. No TVs. No computers.
As you can see from the photos, we were pretty cool dudes. Ron Burgundy could have fit right in at Sound of Music.
But despite the now-odd-looking haircuts, we were serious about sound. I remember many long nights sitting in a listening room comparing Advent Loudspeakers with AR3as -- or with Altec A7 "Voice of the Theater" speakers (each the size of a full refrigerator). We debated sound quality endlessly, and once even held a two-hour double-blind listening test with 12 judges (we were surprised when a big ElectroVoice speaker won over the big-name Massachusetts companies).
Looking back on this time, the most notable aspect of the era was the role of music and stereo systems in our culture. For many of us, our stereo systems were a more important status symbol than our cars. Parties revolved around the stereo -- and what was being played. One of my favorite party tricks was playing Emerson, Lake & Palmer's song Tank, and blowing out a match with the woofers in my Advent Loudspeakers.
Music systems were THE cool technology products of the 1970s. TV just wasn't that interesting, with maybe five or six TV channels....mostly showing bad TV shows, Mork and Mary Tyler Moore being among the exceptions. (Dick and I saw Mary Tyler Moore at the Black Angus restaurant while she was in town to film the opening scene of her TV show.) We had typewriters, not computers. And the offices at Sound of Music headquarters still had dial phones -- not those fancy "push-button" models.
Modern technology is pretty exciting. I do like my iPhone. But I love my stereo.
Maybe it's time to download Tank from iTunes and find a book of matches.

Video Killed the Radio Star. Will Pandora Kill the Radio Station?

Posted by Kate , Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A recent research study* shows that AM/FM radio is still the number one way that people discover new music. Even though streaming audio formats like Pandora, Spotify, and iTunes Radio are becoming more and more popular, the majority of people are still favoring radio, in their homes and cars. Seriously, folks? Stop it. Streaming radio is far superior to FM radio. You can listen to what you want when you want it, not just switch between presets, hoping to get lucky and ending up hearing only the last 40 seconds of a favorite song.

I recently bought a used car. It was an upgrade to my previous vehicle in all areas…except the stereo. The old car had an aftermarket car stereo with a front audio input. Every time I got in it I would connect my iPhone and listen to either my downloaded music or one of my favorite Pandora stations. The only times the radio got used was when my bratty teenager was on-board, or there was a Bruins game on. I never had to suffer through commercials or the same loop of songs over-and-over. Life was good. Or, at least, the music was.

In my new car, sadly, there is no input for my iPhone. My choices are radio or cassette (really?). Growing up in Boston, I was exposed to all sorts of great music thanks to locally-run and staffed FM stations like WBCN and WFNX. They were always playing cool and interesting songs and turning me on to new artists and bands. But today, as big conglomerates like Clear Channel Media take over the airwaves, the radio stations seem to get more similar, boring and “vanilla”every day. They all play the same assortment of songs, often in the same order, and I swear they all run commercials at the same time. Why people opt for this music format, when there are so many other options, is beyond me. The research study shows that 50% of smartphone users have downloaded Pandora and 83% of 12-24 year olds prefer Youtube for discovering new music so maybe there is hope. The connected car is already here, with more than one-quarter of cell phone owners plugging their phones into their cars. Very soon I will upgrade the stereo in my car, be able to listen to what I want, when I want it and life will once again be good. Or, at least, the music will…


ZVOX - More Than Just a TV Speaker

Posted by Tom Hannaher , Thursday, May 1, 2014

I’m the only ZVOX employee who doesn’t own a TV. But I still own and love my ZVOX.  It suits my audio needs perfectly, by being exclusively used to play music!

Let’s face it, nobody wants a compressed “boom-box” sound as their primary home audio system.
And many people cannot handle - nor do they want to deal with - the complexity, clutter, and cost of a true 5.1 surround sound setup. The ZVOX is an elegant compromise between those two categories. You have the simplicity of a boom-box, combined with a wider sound stage, and a much wider range of audio frequencies.

In my home, I have an iPOD, a laptop, and a record player all connected to the ZVOX simultaneously. The input selection prevents all the audio sources from playing at the same time. Easy to use, and highly functional - I really couldn’t be happier with the setup.

Since it’s primarily marketed toward replacing TV speakers, most folks don’t think of a ZVOX as a "computer speaker" or audio system. But when compared to most typical computer speakers on the market, one will quickly find the ZVOX is worlds better in sound quality. It exceeds aesthetically as well - the SoundBase220 looks like it practically belongs under a computer monitor.

I really encourage folks to consider connecting more than just their television to their ZVOX. Any active headphone output can be connected to the ZVOX speaker for a fantastic listening experience.

PS – Turn your TV off every once in awhile and listen to music instead!

-Matt, Audio Expert at ZVOX
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