Are Surround Sound Receivers Obsolete?

Posted by Tom Hannaher , Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Recently an electronics retailer posted on Facebook, showing a photo of the back of a surround sound receiver.  They were obviously impressed by the sheer quantity of inputs and outputs the thing had (about 56 by my count).  That made me curious, so I downloaded the receiver’s manual.  It is 147 pages long!
So four questions come to mind.  1) How many people own 56 different gadgets that they will want to connect to their audio receiver?  2) How much would the connecting cables for those 56 gadgets cost?  3) How many people will ever read a 147 page manual for an audio component?  4) How long will this product category survive?
In 2003, when I started ZVOX, I was asking similar questions – and the receiver business has obviously survived for the past 10 years. But when I visit an electronics store, the aisles with receivers and 5.1 speaker systems are pretty much empty of people. The aisles for sound bars and stand-alone amplified music speakers are where the action is. 10 years ago, these product categories didn’t exist.
The world is tired of complexity. The world is tired of owner’s manuals the size of phone books. The world is tired of wires. (Nobody ever looked in back of their TV set and said “I don’t have enough wires back here.”) 
Receivers – and complex 5.1 surround sound systems – are not going to disappear. But they’re going to become almost invisible.

Are commercials too loud? Keep CALM, Act!

Posted by Doug Webber , Thursday, February 21, 2013

The first thing most customers notice when they first listen to their new ZVOX Audio system is the varying difference in volume levels between TV stations, broadcasts and commercials.
Because the internal TV speakers are usually inherently poor sounding to begin with, the TV manufacturers need to compress that audio signal to such a high degree, just so you’ll be able to hear the quiet portions of the broadcast through the TV speakers. When you then add a quality audio system to your TV, you then notice all of the varying volume levels, most notably, the commercials being too loud.
Effective December 13, 2012, the FCC's rules mandate television commercial advertisements to have the same average volume as the programs that they accompany. The FCC established these rules to comply with the directive of Congress contained in the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act.
The FCC gives you the opportunity to register a complaint either online, fax, mail or by phone. The instructions for doing so can be found at the link below:
We suggest registering your complaint with the FCC since they do rely on consumer feedback to determine whom they should be investigating. When enough people complain to the FCC, then broadcasters will start being held accountable for complying with this new FCC rule.

The Most Important Sound Bar Feature? Musical Accuracy.

Posted by Tom Hannaher , Friday, February 15, 2013

Most companies that make home theater sound systems – or “sound bars” – seem to focus their efforts and reproducing movie sound effects. Car explosions, jet plane fly-overs, shotguns killing zombies…that sort of stuff. But frankly, anybody can design a sound system that recreates jet plane noises. Reproducing music so that it sounds real -- especially a well-recorded vocalist -- is a much more difficult task.
That's why we spend money on things like wood cabinets and high quality speaker drivers -- instead of a bunch of "features" that don't make the system sound any better. It's why we spend what seems like an eternity “voicing” our sound systems – tweaking subtle variations to make acoustic instruments and the human voice sound realistic. Once that’s done, the explosion part is easy. 

What The Critics Say About ZVOX Systems:
  • “Superior to most we’ve tested.” – CNET
  • “The best I’ve heard. Knockout sound.” - MSNBC
  • “Blows away the sound built into your TV.” - NBC’s Today Show
  • “Creates a sonic dance.” The New York Times
  • “Bigger audio dynamite.” The Wall St. Journal
  • “Remarkably ingenious.” - Sound & Vision
  • “A genuine audiophile-quality system.” Stereophile
  • “Best Buy.” – Consumers Digest
  • “Impressive sound without the clutter.” - TV Guide
  • “I was wowed by the room-filling sound.” Chicago Tribune
  • “A single-box audio powerhouse.” – Men’s Journal
  • “Shockingly good.” - Home Entertainment Magazine
  • “Unmatched sound quality for the price.” Macworld
  • “Inspires sincere gadget lust.” – PC World Magazine
  • “Better than some home theaters.” - Chicago Tribune
  • “The simplest possible solution with the best sound.” - Home Theater Magazine
  • “Rich, balanced and clear.” Boston Globe
  • “Big balanced sound.” – Popular Mechanics Magazine
  • “Awesome sound.” - Spike TV
  • “Big, full dynamic sound.” Ultimate AV
  • “Surpisingly powerful.” - E-Gear
  • “Performance in a box this small should be impossible. It’s not.” - Audio Video Revolution
  • “Easily rivals expensive 5.1 bundles.” - Electronic Gaming Monthly
  • “Remarkable. We’re amazed.” Maximum PC
  • “Accurate and detailed.” Audioholics
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