The Zvox Z-Base 580 may cost as much as a low- to mid-range 5.1-channel home theater setup. However, it is the cream of the crop for people who want to skip the wiring woes of a traditional surround-sound system but don't want to completely break the bank on a premium sound bar like the Yamaha YSP-4100 (Est. $1,700) . The simple setup and value-adding features are just icing on the cake.
Great sound on an expansive stage. The Zvox Z-Base 580 delivers incredibly rich and clear audio, reviewers report, especially on the dialogue front. Although the subwoofer is integrated rather than discrete, reviewers still say it packs a very respectable punch. Experts say the PhaseCue II simulated surround-sound effects are fairly enveloping at the second of three settings, but Sound & Vision's reviewer notes that the first setting is basically stereo sound, while the third setting creates too large a soundstage and sounds "disembodied" as a result. Nevertheless, critics fall over themselves to praise the balanced audio of the Zvox Z-Base 580.
It's all about the platform. If you don't mind using a sound bar as a stand for your TV, this single-unit solution is easy to set up and operate. However, if you don't like the idea of raising your TV's viewing angles, the Z-Base 580 may not be for you. It's also not very suitable for pairing with a wall-mounted set. The lack of an HDMI connection may be another deal breaker, but the sound bar includes plenty of other ports of both the analog and digital variety.
Features flesh out the versatility. The Zvox Z-Base 580 includes a lot of little extras. There's input switching, an auto on-off function, onboard PCM and Dolby Digital (but not DTS) decoders, a front 3.5 mm input for smartphones and iPods, and a front display.
An excellent price for a high-quality sound bar. It's hard to call any $500 sound bar a value, but for all you get -- top-notch design, above-average features and high-quality audio with a decent simulated surround sound -- the Zvox Z-Base 580 is competitively priced.
1. Sound & Vision
Sound & Vision magazine finds lots to like with the Zvox Z-Base 580 -- it's easy to use, easy to set up and sounds better than most other sound bars. The review is full of highly informed hands-on impressions alongside a battery of highly technical benchmark testing data with clearly defined methodology.
Review: Test Report: Zvox Audio Z-Base 580 TV Sound System, Brent Butterworth, Jan. 30, 2012
2. Home Theater Magazine
The Zvox Z-Base 580 earns a Top Pick award from Home Theater magazine. Two pages of discussion cover every aspect of the sound bar, while a final page displays a graph of audio benchmarks. "If you're looking for a single-box home-theater audio solution to accompany up to a 70-inch flat-panel and will be placing the TV on a stand (as opposed to wall-mounting it), I can unhesitatingly recommend that you visit the Zvox Audio website and order one today," Lawrence Ullman writes.
Review: Zvox Audio Z-Base 580 Soundbar, Lawrence E. Ullman, Feb. 24, 2012
CNET's audio reviewers subject the Zvox Z-Base 580 to thorough, clearly defined testing, though no formal benchmarks are involved. They love the sound bar's features, design and clear, rich audio, but the high price tag and lack of a discrete subwoofer are two drawbacks.
Review: Zvox Z-Base 580 Review, Matthew Moskovciak and Steve Guttenberg, Aug. 31, 2011
HomeTheaterReview.com's coverage of the Zvox Z-Base 580 consists of two long pages chock full of discussion, as well as separate ratings for performance and value and an overall score -- all of which receive a 4-star (out of 5) rating. Several high points and low points are called out, and Alex Lezcano compares the Z-Base 580 against its competitors in one section. "The Zvox 580 is perfect if you want a no-hassle HDTV or home theater upgrade," he writes.
Review: Zvox Z-Base 580 Reviewed, Alex Lezcano, Nov. 14, 2011
Although Robert Silva gets the name of the Z-Base 580 wrong in his title, the rest of his review is incredibly thorough, clearly listing the specifications of the sound bar and all materials used in its testing. Silva says the sturdily constructed sound bar delivers a great listening experience. He gives it a 4-star (out of 5) rating.
Review: Zvox IncrediBase 580 Single-Cabinet Surround Sound System - Review, Robert Silva, Not Dated
The Zvox Z-Base 580 carries a very high overall rating at Amazon.com -- the number of 5-star reviews is far more than the combined number of reviews with lower ratings. Aside from shipping issues and the occasional defective unit, most reviews with lower ratings come from those who expected better audio out of a sound bar.
Review: Zvox 580 Low-Profile Single-Cabinet Surround Sound System, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of August 2013
Crutchfield.com has less than half as many user reviews of the Z-Base 580 as Amazon.com, but its users are just as happy with the sound bar, and it enjoys a similar overall rating. Complaints are varied, but some say that the sound bar is a bit bulky for their liking.
Review: Zvox Z-Base 580, Contributors to Crutchfield.com, As of August 2013