The ZVOX 28″ SoundBase 450 Will Fix Your Television’s Puny Sound

No high-definition television purchase is complete without some kind of speaker system; it’s like there’s a conspiracy among HDTV makers that no unit — no matter how large it is or what it costs — can leave the factory with a sufficient speaker system for anything but the smallest room. The ZVOX 28″ SoundBase 450 can fix that for you.

Remember when home theater stereo systems consisted of a surround sound receiver, a subwoofer, a speaker bar, and four speakers that had to go in each corner of the room? Sure, it is still possible to buy separate components, but what if you could get excellent, clear sound for your television from a single, space-saving, excellently priced, low-profile speaker box? You’d be all over that, wouldn’t you? A typical home theater system cast cost well over $1,500, but this complete solution is only $299.99.

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This one-piece system houses five full-range speakers, a high-output woofer, and built-in amplification — there’s no need to use a separate receiver or run wires to any external speakers. Plus, the 450 is designed to serve as a convenient base for flat-panel TVs with screen sizes up to 55″. Even older TVs sit perfectly atop this sturdy wooden cabinet, since it can support up to 70 lbs. Place the SoundBase 450 directly underneath your TV and you won’t have to worry about making extra room for it on your entertainment cabinet.

Inside the box, you’ll find the SoundBase 450, setup and operation manuals, the two-piece power cable, warranty information, a two-meter RCA to RCA cable, a two-meter Stereo RCA to Stereo Mini-jack connecting cord, a two-meter TOSLINK (optical digital) connecting cable, and a remote control.

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Dan has reviewed several other ZVOX SoundBase speakers, including the 420 and 670; some of the reasons why you might want to consider the ZVOX 450 are:

  • The sound bar fits under your TV
  • It’s perfect for most 32″ – 55″ TVs
  • It has built-in Bluetooth for wireless audio streaming from your phone or tablet
  • You’ll get surround sound without multiple speakers & wires
  • There is no external subwoofer – everything’s built-in
  • It has super-clear vocals
  • It has “Loud Commercial Control” technology
  • It uses all-digital processing and amplification with Dolby Digital decoding
  • You can program your existing TV remote to control the ZVOX in less than a minute

As for ease of installation, I have a confession to make: I am not the AV person in our family. When it comes to setting up TV peripherals like our Amazon TV, Apple TV, and DVD player, I turn to the expert in our home — Kev. But since the SoundBase said it was easy to set up, I figured I would be able to prove it right or wrong by being the person to do the installation.

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Hephaestus thinks the ZVOX makes a great place to hide.

So let’s take a look at the unwrapped SoundBase: it measures approximately 27″ long by 14.5″ deep by 3.5″ tall (including the feet), weighs about 16 pounds, and the cabinet is composed of black MDF (medium density fiberboard), not plastic.

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At first glance, the front of the ZVOX appears to be all mesh speaker, but on the right side, there is a display that shows the current setting for volume, bass, treble, PhaseCue (virtual surround), as well as when mute is engaged, Output Leveling (OL) and Dialog Emphasis (DE) features.

When you are engaging with the SoundBase via remote, the orange display lights tell you what settings you’ve entered, but the lights will disappear a few seconds later. At the very bottom are buttons for Mute, Volume, and Input — just in case you ever lose your remote or forget to program another remote to work with it.

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The back of the SoundBase has a digital audio input (that supports both optical [TOSLINK] or coaxial digital cables), two analog audio inputs, the DC IN port, and a power switch.

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The four feet on the bottom of the ZVOX are non-scratch, and you can see the 5.25″ subwoofer. Inside the cabinet there are also five 2″ main speakers.

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I connected the ZVOX to our TV via the optical audio output on the TV and the optical audio input on the SoundBase 450. I set the SoundBase where I wanted it on our console under the TV, but you can also set up your 30″ to 55″ TV on top of the box (70-pound limit).

After plugging the ZVOX into the wall, I was concerned because I wasn’t getting any sound from the speaker bar after setting it to “in 1d” with the remote source button; that’s when Kev stepped in and showed me that our VIZIO TV has a sound source setting where you basically tell it how you want it to send its sound out — he selected Dolby Audio Out/Dolby Digital and boom — we were up and running.

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Don’t freak out about the cables, I’ll wrap them in a minute.

There are three different surround sound modes you can choose from: Sd 1 is the best for vocals, but the surround sound effect isn’t quite as strong. Sd 2 has a little bit less vocal clarity, but the surround sound effect is more noticeable; this is where we decided to set ours.

Sd 3 has the strongest surround sound effect, but the vocals aren’t quite as clear. The 450 has an Accu-Voice Dialog Emphasis button that, when pressed, “uses hearing aid technology to make voices unbelievably clear.”

The 450 uses ZVOX’s proprietary PhaseCue virtual surround processing to give you rich, three-dimensional sound with movies or music.. While no virtual surround system – including ours – will give you the surround effects of a good surround sound system with multiple speaker cabinets, the ZVOX 450 does a remarkable job.

You can also press the output leveling (OL) button on the remote if you want to prevent large changes in volume — like when a commercial comes on, as they always seem to be set louder than the programs they are interrupting.

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I know, I still haven’t finished wrapping the cables. Stop judging. 😉

When the SoundBase 450 is set up and working, it produces excellent sound. You can blast movies that rumble the room and still hear the voices clearly. One of the first things we did was watch Star Wars, Revenge of the Jedi on it, and the music and effects were fantastic!

I’ve got out TV remote programmed to operate the box, so now there is one less remote for us to keep up with. Best of all, you can use the SoundBase as a Bluetooth speaker for your smartphone, tablet, or computer, so it’s like getting a bonus stereo system, which is great for those of us with small living spaces.

There are plenty of more expensive systems that you could buy for your home theater setup, but for those of us who want great theater sound without a huge space or money commitment, the ZVOX SoundBase 450 is ideal. If you aren’t sure which SoundBase would be best for you, you can compare models here.

The ZVOX 28″ SoundBase 450 with Built-In Subwoofer, Bluetooth, and AccuVoice retails for $299, and it is available directly from the manufacturer as well as other retailers, including Amazon.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

What I Like: Small wood cabinet that houses five speakers and a subwoofer; Easy to set up; Connects in multiple ways to your television, so even if you don’t have the newest tech, it will work; Also works as a Bluetooth speaker for your phone, tablet, or laptop; Can act as the base for up to a 70-pound television; Produces excellent sound

What Needs Improvement: Nothing

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.