Some time ago I reviewed one of the SoundBase products from ZVOX. I was impressed by the relatively inexpensive device, but I did wish it had integrated Bluetooth and even better sound than it did. Well, the ZVOX SoundBase 670 does have Bluetooth along with bigger and better sound, and I’m a huge fan. Let’s take a look.
The advantages of the ZVOX.670 over the unit we previously reviewed is improved sound, built-in Bluetooth, super-clear vocals and “Commercial Taming” Technology. They come together to create one impressive package!
The ZVOX SoundBase 670 is big. It measures 36″ x 16 1/2″ x 3 1/2″, and it weighs in at over 25 pounds. That size and weight allow the unit to have some pretty impressive electronics inside. Among the tech, you will find is the high-efficiency 105 watt Class D digital amplifier, three 5.25″ subwoofers, and five (FIVE!!) 2″x 3″ main speaker drivers. Yeah it is one impressive speaker system.
Inside the box are:
- The SoundBase itself
- One stereo RCA to stereo RCA connecting cable
- One optical digital (TOSLINK) cable
- One remote control with power on/off, volume up/down, mute, PhaseCue II (three level settings), bass up/down and treble up/down, input selection, Output Leveling (OL), AccuVoice (ACCU).
- Power cord
- One-sheet safety instructions and operations manual, fast setup sheet and remote control programming instruction sheet.
The ZVOX SoundBase 670 is small. It is just 3 1/2″ high and, when placed beneath a large HD television is largely disappears. The vanishing display built into the front of the unit also lets it maintain its unassuming good looks.
The SoundBase 670 has a great array of connectivity options. At the rear of the unit you will find two analog stereo inputs, two optical (Toslink) digital input and one coaxial digital input. On the front you will find a 3.5mm stereo front panel input along with volume, mute and input selection buttons. (The two digital inputs work with a built-in Dolby Digital decoder that can improve virtual surround performance and allow for simplified connections to a wide variety of TVs, cable boxes and disc players.) This time around there is, of course, also the inclusion of Bluetooth. In this case it is BlueGiga Bluetooth Wireless Audio “with aptX for optimal connectivity, range and sound quality”. More than anything the convenience of being able to stream audio from my mobile device to the ZVOX 670 is great and turns the ZVOX.670 into a full-range entertainment system equally equipped to handle video AND audio.
Specific inputs can be selected either with the remote control or by using the slim-line module below the speaker grille.
The included remote is really the weak link in the system. It looks and feels a bit cheap. Worse yet, it is not all that responsive to physical input. Thankfully you can also use the front control or set up the system to work with your own remote. More on that in a bit.
As the company notes:
The ZVOX SoundBase 670 produces rich, room-filling home theater sound without all the clutter of a traditional surround sound system.
As previously mentioned, the unit is only 3.5” high. Within that small cabinet five full range speakers (including three center speakers). And it does, as previously noted, virtually disappears when placed under your TV.
Setting up and connecting the unit is simple. There’s only one wire needed! Just plug it in and the system is on. From there you can choose which devices you want connected or… you can make the connection wirelessly. And the sound it puts out… we’ll have more to say in a bit but… it is fantastic and offers super-clear vocals and powerful bass thanks to the three built-in powered subwoofers.
Features of the ZVOX SoundBase 670:
- PhaseCue virtual surround system creates theater-like three-dimensional sound without the need for speakers throughout the room.
- Want to listen to music? Stream audio from your phone or tablet via aptX Bluetooth wireless connectivity.
- Having trouble hearing the voices on a show? Push the AccuVoice button on the remote and vocals become crystal clear automatically.
- Tired of loud commercials? Push the OL (Output Leveling) button on the remote and the ZVOX will tame loud commercials before they annoy you.
- You can program the ZVOX system so that it works with your current remote control.
- A large, easy-to-read display is hidden under the front grille, and disappears when you’re not using it.
Part of what makes the ZVOX SOUNDBASE.670 sound so good is the company’s PhaseCue technology. So while the 670 is a single unit this technology is employed to help offer a “virtual surround sound” experience. Thanks to its “virtual surround sound.” The company explains it this way:
The 670 uses ZVOX’s proprietary PhaseCue II virtual surround sound processing. PhaseCue II, as its name implies, manipulates the phase of the separate channels to “fool the ear” into believing that sound is coming from a variety of sources throughout the room. The benefits of PhaseCue II vary depending on the material being listen to but it can have a huge impact. For example, live music and high-quality movie soundtracks deliver rich, three-dimensional sound – pulling the sound out from the speakers and into the room, literally surrounding the listener.
It’s a pretty cool trick that you have to hear to believe! ZVOX does, however, offer the caveat that, when compared to true 5.1 sound systems, virtual surround systems are limited in their effects and that
…sitcoms, news broadcasts and soundtracks from older movies often have very little in the way of three-dimensional sound. That being said, PhaseCue II is capable of generating a wonderful and engaging virtual surround experience.
The system also has what ZVOX refers to as AccuVoice (Dialog Emphasis) and Output Leveling. This further enhances the experience of using the system to watch movies and other such media and makes the SOUNDABLE.670 the “perfect home theater system for people who want fantastic sound, great style and innovative features – without the clutter and complexity of conventional surround sound systems.”
Of course, the most important feature for any home theater system is high quality sound. The 670 uses a new amplifier design that “includes electronic contouring for superb frequency response.” They describe the result as “warm, natural sound with surprisingly powerful bass.” I’m just all around impressed. We’ll let the company run down the audio and other key features in their own words…
- PhaseCue II Virtual Surround Sound: The 670 uses ZVOX’s proprietary PhaseCue II virtual surround processing to give you rich, three-dimensional sound with movies or music. With music, PhaseCue II creates a very wide soundstage – it literally sounds like you are listening to speakers eight feet apart from each other. When listening to a good movie, the soundtrack will envelop you, putting you in the middle of the action. While no virtual surround system – including ours – will give you the surround effects of a good 5.1 system, the ZVOX 670 does a remarkable job. Sound & Vision magazine calls our PhaseCue processing “remarkably ingenious.”
- Built-In Bluetooth Wireless Audio: After a thorough search where we tested a large number of options, ZVOX chose the BlueGiga Bluetooth solution for our new SoundBase systems. Compared to the other systems we tested, the BlueGiga module provided much more reliable connectivity and better range. It also allows for superior audio quality with fully digital internal connections and the aptX software codec. We don’t know of a Bluetooth solution that offers better connectivity, range and sound quality than BlueGiga. (Note: The Bluetooth connectivity offered by ZVOX Platinum Series systems is primarily designed to allow wireless streaming of music from iPods, phones and tablets. While some TV sets offer Bluetooth audio output, the TV manufacturers sometimes make it impossible for those signals to be received by audio systems from other brand names. Because of this we recommend that our customers connect their ZVOX systems to their TVs using digital or analog connecting cables, which are supplied in the box with your ZVOX system.)
- Vocal Clarity: ZVOX systems are known for their remarkable vocal clarity. The 670 adds a stunning new feature: AccuVoice. When you push the “DE” button on the remote control you engage a circuit that mimics the functions of a hearing aid. The frequencies used by human voices are dynamically emphasized, while other frequencies are minimized. We don’t know of any other speaker system that provides such an easy-to-use and effective method for improving the intelligibility of television dialog.
- Use Your Remote Control: The new SoundBase system can be programmed to respond to your remote control. The illuminated display walks you through a less-than-a-minute programming cycle. Then your TV remote…or cable box remote…or satellite receiver remote…or ANY remote…can control volume, mute, and power functions of the ZVOX system.The 670 uses a highly advanced processor to digitally tailor the sound for excellent frequency response. The result is a very smooth, very accurate sound. This SoundBase system doesn’t sound like a “sound bar,” it sounds like an audiophile quality speaker system.
- Tame Commercials That Are Too Loud: If you’ve ever been blasted out of your chair by a too-loud commercial – or by a cable channel that’s twice as loud as another channel – you’ll love the new Output Leveling (OL) feature on the ZVOX 670. Just push the OL button and a sophisticated processor takes over, making soft sounds louder and loud sounds softer, so there are fewer jarring moments when switching channels or when commercials come on. This system also helps by boosting the audio levels from a DVD or Blu Ray player that is not loud enough.
- Wood (MDF) Cabinet: The 670 features a hand-built cabinet of heavy MDF. Its low-profile design blends perfectly with flat-panel TVs. Most people don’t even notice the ZVOX 670…until they hear it.
- Disappearing Display: The 670 features a four-digit display located behind the speaker grille that shows the current setting for volume, bass, treble and PhaseCue II® (virtual surround) – and shows when you have engaged the Mute, Output Leveling (OL) or Dialog Emphasis (DE) features. A few seconds after you stop using your remote (or front panel) controls, the display disappears completely.
- Green Design: The 670 uses a highly efficient Class D digital amplifier. Even playing at quite loud volumes, it usually uses less than 10 watts of total power. And standby power usage tends to hover around 0.1 watts – making it one of the “greenest” audio systems ever made.
I was a huge fan of the first ZVOX product we reviewed. The ZVOX 670 improves on it in every possible way while maintaining the features that made my an immediate fan the first time around. It still has a low profile and an unassuming look. It is still easy to set up and use. And it still offers a nice range of connectivity options. This time out however Bluetooth has been added as a connection option and the sound is even bigger and better than before. And all that audio prowess still fits into an MDF cabinet that all but disappears beneath your television.
The biggest downside is the fact that the included remote still stinks. Since you can pair the unit to a universal remote or train it to use your television or cable box remote in a few simple steps however this is far less of an issue. At $499, this is a great way to have a powerful home theater experience without having to spend a fortune or have your entire room consumed by speaker, amplifiers and other audio gear. Check out the ZVOX 670 and all the other ZVOX offerings here.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample of the ZVOX SoundBase 670 Home Theater Sound System [affiliate link]
What I Like: Impressive sound in a low-profile system; Multiple input methods including Bluetooth; Great attention to the audio put forth by the system and it shows; Virtual surround sound is like magic when it works; Commercial taming and vocal enhancement tech is great; Simple setup
What Needs Improvement: The ZVOX SoundBase 670’s included remote continues to be the weak link in this system