What’s the first thing you do when you can’t understand dialogue on your TV? You turn it up, right? But doing so only makes all the sounds around the dialogue louder — which means higher volumes and you still can’t understand a darn thing. There’s another solution — voice clarity with the ZVOX AccuVoice AV203 TV Speaker.
If you’re looking for a speaker system that creates wall-shaking explosions in heart-stopping 3D surround sound, this isn’t it. But if you want to be able to hear and understand what people are saying on your favorite TV shows and movies — without having to turn your television’s volume up to 80 or rely on sometimes inaccurate or incomplete (and always distracting) closed captioning — the ZVOX can definitely help. By using “proprietary digital algorithms that separate the voices from the rest of the soundtrack – and then manipulating them much like a hearing aid does,” the AV203 soundbar cases voices to “jump out” so you can hear them clearly. This video gives you a good example of the technology behind the speaker.
Included in the box are the AV 203 soundbar, a remote control, a wall charger, three audio cables (optical cable, RCA cable, and mini jack analog audio out), and a quick start guide. If your television is a newer model, you’ll be able to use the optical signal cable; if it’s a slightly older model, one of the other two provided cables will suffice.
The ZVOX AccuVoice AV203 is easily one of the smallest soundbars I’ve ever reviewed. It measures approximately 17″ long by 3″ wide by 3″ tall, and it weighs about 3 pounds. The four sides of the exterior are composed of black brushed aluminum, and the two ends have a rubberized coating.
The front of the AV203 has a metal grille covering three 2” x 3” full-range speakers with neodymium magnets; inside there is a 24-watt Class D digital amplifier. Slightly to the right of center, behind the grille, there is a four-digit display which will show your current setting for volume, bass, treble, and the PhaseCue virtual surround sound. The display will also let you know when you’ve “engaged the Mute, Output Leveling (OL) or AccuVoice (ACCU) features.” A few seconds after you’ve used the remote or the buttons on the side of the soundbar, the display will disappear.
On the right side of the speaker. there are rubber-coated power, volume up, volume down, and Input buttons; these are handy when someone inevitably misplaces the remote. There is also a vertical subwoofer port.
On the back of the soundbar, there are inputs for the wall charger, optical cable, and analog mini jack.
The left side is plain.
Setting up the ZVOX AccuVoice AV203 TV Speaker takes all of two minutes — just long enough to plug whichever cable you’ve decided to attach between your television and the soundbar to each devices’ port and then to plug the soundbar into the wall. Set your television’s volume to mute. Done.
You’ll want to pull out the remote control for the next part. Measuring ~4.5″ tall by 2″ wide, the remote has large buttons with easy to read labels. They are as follows
- Input: Allows you to switch between 1d or 2d, which are either optical digital and analog, or optical digital and optical digital.
- Power: On & off
- AccuVoice: There are six levels of voice boost available. As you progress through the AccuVoice levels, you’ll note that the voices become emphasized and the background music or noise becomes minimized — not so much that you don’t hear it, but just pushed a bit to the background so that you can actually hear the dialogue. The result is incredible vocal clarity, not dissimilar to what happens when you put on a hearing aid and voices are amplified.
- Surround: Sd 1 has low virtual surround effect and strong vocals; this is generally the setting I keep the bar set to Sd 2 has moderate virtual surround effect and moderate vocals; it’s recommended as a good setting for general TV programs. Sd 3 has a strong virtual surround effect and moderate vocals; it is recommended when you’re watching movies.
- Mute: Turns the sound on and off
- Volume: Sound up or down
- Other Settings: You can use this button to adjust the bass and treble, but you can also use it to activate Output Leveling, which is great if you want to prevent large swings in volume — like when a show cuts to commercial and the sound would otherwise jump; press it, and that annoyance is gone.
I hooked the ZVOX AccuVoice AV203 TV Speaker to the television in my office. I have a small shelf mounted to the wall under my TV, and this soundbar fit with plenty of room to spare. I tend to keep the surround sound on Sd 1 and the AccuVoice on 2; this means that even when the television isn’t playing with the volume turned up, I can hear the voices speaking on shows clearly. While this speaker isn’t large, it does get quite loud. My office is about 200 square feet, and the sound produced by the ZVOX easily fills it. But most importantly, voices are clear; the AccuVoice technology makes it so that even in the most explosive and distracting scenes, I can hear every bit of the dialogue. That is perhaps the single biggest reason I would recommend this soundbar to everyone.
If you struggle to hear dialogue on your television, don’t keep turning the sound up, and don’t rely on sometimes inaccurate closed captioning; get a ZVOX AccuVoice AV203 TV Speaker and hear what you’ve been missing even on the lower volumes.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Compact size; Aluminum case looks and feels luxe; Great for people who struggle to hear the dialogue over the background noises in television shows and movies; No need to rely on sometimes inaccurate closed captioning; AccuVoice pushes background noises down and emphasizes dialogue even at lower volumes; Three surround sound settings; Easy to set up and operate: Great for anyone who has difficulty hearing dialogue clearly
hat Needs Improvement: Nothing — it works as promised