ZVox Z-Base V220 Review: Home Theater Audio on a Budget

by Reads (3,771)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Design
      • 7
      • Features
      • 6
      • Performance
      • 7
      • Durability
      • 8
      • Utility
      • 8
      • Total Score:
      • 7.20
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Decent audio performance considering price
    • Powerful bass
    • Optical cable included
  • Cons

    • Block design could make placement an issue
    • Surround sound modes useless

Quick Take

The ZVox Z-Base V220 is an excellent speaker system considering its bargain price. Audiophiles might not appreciate its output, but those used to substandard on-board HDTV speakers will be mightily impressed.

Want to ruin the HDTV experience? Try watching it with an external speaker setup. Then, the substandard output of the on-board speakers becomes painfully obvious.

Luckily, an expensive and elaborate surround-sound speaker setup is not required to experience the effect. Speaker bars exist for those without the space and/or wherewithal, as well as the just plain lazy. Speaker bars range in price from the near five figures, to little more than a few hundred dollars, with the ZVox Z-Base V220 coming in at the very low end of the pricing spectrum.

Speaker Block

The Zvox Z-Base V220 is not exactly a speaker bar; it\’s a heavier and bulkier sound block, a one-piece sound system sporting a basic black minimalist design, with the only flourish being an orange LED display light, similar to an old alarm clock. This definitely isn\’t a flashy piece of audio tech (and for $200, it shouldn\’t be), which might displease those into gaudy setups. But, it’s highly doubtful they’d want to show off a low-end speaker bar.

\"ZvoxIt measures about 16.5 x 12 x 3.5 inches (WDH) and weighs approximately 12 pounds. ZVox claims the V220 design is perfect for resting a small HDTV (less than 40 pounds, which maxes out with 40-inch sets) directly on top, but remember that sound is vibration, and any bass-heavy content will literally shake the screen. To that end, the ZVox V220 has a 5.25-inch subwoofer and three 2-inch speakers, complete with 35 watts.

As for inputs, the V220 has both a coaxial and optical digital input (cord included!), as well as two analog inputs, each resting on the back of the device next to the DC in and power switch. There is another input on the front, a 3.5mm, suitable for iPods and other mp3 players, as well as a mute button, volume buttons, and input control button. The V220 also ships with a remote, but can be programmed to learn other remote inputs.

All told, there is little to complain about in regards to the design. It’s probably not wise to use it as a TV stand, but it’s small enough to tuck into a home entertainment center. Those with HDTVs perched on nightstands and dressers might have trouble finding a spot for it, however, due to its blocky build.

Sound Quality

The V220 is Zvox\’s smallest and least expensive sound system, so users shouldn\’t expect much in terms of features and sound controls. Users can tweak the bass and treble levels, but there are no equalizer settings. Surprisingly, the V220 has three surround-sound modes. To be clear, the ZVox Z-Base V220 doesn’t offer true surround-sound because it is just one piece (though it will support a real 5.1 surround-sound setup with extra equipment), but it can mimic it… or at least try to mimic it. Most will find it subpar, and likely get no use out of the feature. The two other sound features, output leveling and dialog enhancement, are much more useful.

\"ZvoxOutput leveling boosts quiet dialog, like whispers, while lowering sudden volume spikes. This is especially helpful for commercials, with obnoxiously increase decibel output, presumably in order to garner attention. The dialog enhancement feature seems to pump up the midrange sounds, which includes most dialogs, while leveling off the bass and treble.

Both modes work well enough, but the ZVox Z-Base V220 actually sounds great as is. It gets plenty loud, and emits reasonably balanced sound, especially considering the price. The bass especially thumps at reasonable levels, but will fart out and distort at the extremes.

This much is clear, the V220 sounds much better than your standard HDTV speakers. And it likely sounds better than many other $200 speaker systems too. Given its lack of controls and options, and decent sound out of the box, it’s an excellent set-it-and-forget-it audio accessory. It’s especially suited for small apartments and dorm rooms, or maybe even a bedroom TV, given its small footprint. Just don’t stack the TV on it, contrary to what ZVox suggests, and be mindful of the neighbors before blasting any bass-heavy beats.


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