“What did they say?” Not only those with hearing impairment have difficulty understanding dialogue while watching TV. ZVOX AV157 sound bar fixes this problem with proprietary hearing aid technology.
Voices become prominent and focused applying 12 levels of the company’s dialogue-focusing technology. And it works so beautifully you may comfortably turn off Closed Captioning to once again enjoy watchingthe entire picture instead of reading the dialogue on the screen!
Another basic function levels the output so there are no more loud commercials.
ZVOX AV157 can be as simple to operate as plug & play, but that would be a mistake. There is so much to explore. Speaking of simplicity, there is no Bluetooth on this device. To play sound from any source
**WHAT’S IN THE BOX**
- ZVOX AccuVoice AV157 TV Speaker
- Power supply
- Wireless Remote Control, with two AAA batteries
- Double male 3.5mm cable for direct audio out connection from TV
- Audio cable with 3.5mm mini plug on one end, R (Right) and W (Left) RCA male jacks on the other
- Optical Digital Cable – one end to ZVOX, the other to the TV, if equipped
- Pair of wall mounting screws
- Manual and warranty
Read the documentation to become familiar with hookup options for the TV to which it will be connected. Most modern TVs have and optical out port. This is the optimal setup enabling all TV sound, regardless of source, to be sent to and processed within the ZVOX sound bar. For example, if there is a STB (Set Top Box), such as a cable or satellite box, and an external smart box, such as Roku, and maybe a game system, it is likely they are all connected to the TV. With this one-wire connection between the TV and AV157, all sound goes to and is heard through the ZVOX sound bar.
Connection to older TVs without the optical connection can use other specified methods.
Note that there is no Bluetooth in this soundbar, but there is a workaround for playing music. Read on.
ZVOX AV157 has a headphone jack that can be used when its internal sound is muted and all the TV audio is heard in headphones while still taking advantage of the proprietary dialogue enhancing technology.
That same minijack may be used instead for connection to an external subwoofer.
Input selection is provided on the simple, big button wireless remote.
The AV157 turns ON and OFF when it senses audio signals from the connected TV. This can also be defeated in favor of manual ON/OFF operation. I left mine in the default configuration. It goes to sleep in low power mode when sensing the absence of sound from your TV.
The AV157 is also Alexa-ready. With the TV connected to Input 1 (Optical), connect Input 2, the one designated as minijack analog input (2) to the speaker port from an Alexa device using the provided mini-jack cable, as an example. Once set according to instructions, users can ask the Alexa device a question. In response, the AV157 will turn down the TV sound while Alexa answers the question. When Alexa stops speaking, the AV157 restores the TV sound.
That analog input (2) can, instead, be used to receive any external analog sound, such as from an Alexa or Google Nest device, or any device with your music on it, using the AV157’s internals to process music or podcasts. In this setup, use the AV157 with your choice of Surround Sound settings for pleasing, room-filing music. Use the remote control to select this input to hear what’s there from input 2.
I hope you get the idea of its versatility. There is even more, but I will refrain from going too deep because it would overshadow the pure and simple operations for everyone not interested in these extras.
**TECHNOLOGY SETS AV157 APART FROM ALL OTHER SOUND BARS**
Now, let’s get into those 12 levels of voice boost to which I referred in the first paragraph.
Grab the simple, flat remote control and press the upper right button marked, “POWER,” unless you’ve left the AV157 in its default mode which powers on when sensing that the TV is on. Users have the choice to do nothing or do a lot. If the sound is clear without any issue discerning and understanding dialogue, users may wish to take advantage of the three levels of virtual surround settings from low virtual surround effect and strong vocals to strong virtual surround with moderate vocals. According to the manufacturer, many people prefer the middle of the three settings, though settings are designed to allow all users to set it for what’s best to the one in control!
Outside of virtual surround settings, there are six levels of AccuVoice processing from which to choose, or not. This is the area where users wanting varying levels of vocal clarity will find their inner peace. Totally subjective, toggling through each level will demonstrate the capability of the technology. Once set, the selection is held until changed.
Finally, users with hearing loss who may have greater difficulty discerning dialogue will want to visit what is called SuperVoice settings for Extreme Voice Clarity. These six settings apply the company’s advanced algorithms that lift the voices out of the rest of the sound. This comes at the expense of the rest of the audio, with all but the dialogue suppressed. If you often cannot understand voices, this setting may be your new best friend. And again, the setting selected in SuperVoice remains until changed.
There you have it – Six AccuVoice settings and six SuperVoice settings, plus three virtual surround settings as a bonus, each with its own value and benefit depending upon the user’s unique needs.
Like me, before I tried it, your head may be spinning. Fret not, dear readers, all will be well.
**PUT TO THE TEST**
My hearing is in the category of slight hearing loss, borne of growing up in the ‘60s and attending loud concerts. I am among the more fortunate ones, however, with only mild loss, not requiring hearing aids.
I have friends whose hearing loss is more profound, necessitating hearing aids. While I am not at that point, I will guess I am a lot like many of you.
Even when the actors are speaking what should be easily understood American English, I find more and more that I am unable to pick out the dialogue amongst the sea of other sound. Increasingly, I found it necessary to enable Closed Captioning. I understand the necessity to use this technology when watching foreign films. If you have watched with captions on, you know the level of viewing satisfaction is significantly diminished because visual attention is necessarily on the words, and not on the otherwise big, beautiful full screen image and all that is happening all around. So much is lost and I don’t like it.
For my tests of the ZVOX AV157 I began with placement. The sound bar may be placed anywhere in front of the TV, from one side to the other. I placed mine close to the center line and tried it from side to side with no discernable adverse effect.
Connected in the recommended default manner, I used the supplied optical cable and connected from the TV to the ZVOX. There is also a Roku attached to that TV. In my setup, all sound goes through the ZVOX. The TV’s internal speakers set on mute, but you may wish to simple turn the TV volume to its lowest setting. The slim and diminutive remote control is intuitive and easily learned. Settings are confirmed in the display that becomes visible for a few moments before disappearing through the perforated screen facing front on the AV157.
Switched on, I started with the middle of three levels of the virtual surround. Oh, and I turned OFF the captioning. I want to, once again, be free to watch and to enjoy the entire screen!
Hour after hour over the past month or so, I have watched, listened and learned to find settings that work for my listening needs and habits.
In so doing, two things have occurred. One is that I love watching whatever it is that is on the screen. Except for foreign films and those with heavily accented English, I leave the captions off because I now have a remote control and a soundbar, a tool that allows me to discover the best setting so I can hear AND understand the dialogue! The ZVOX AVR157 is working splendidly!
Whenever it is that programming necessitates a settings change, I pause the program and engage my personal go-to settings. Most of the time when dialogue extraction is needed, I have settled into AccuVoice 1, 2 or 3. For the bulk of my watching when dialogue is not a concern, I set it to Surround 2, recommended as the setting for general TV programs. For action movies, such as the Die Hard series, Apollo 13, Band of Brothers, Apocalypse Now, Top Gun, Star Wars, and even Godzilla vs. Kong, this middle setting worked well. The immersive surround effect is obvious.
I tweaked it further into SuperVoice 3 while watching episodes of the HBO Perry Mason series. Some episodes are so filled with chatter I needed the extra help to diminish as much non-dialogue as possible. I watched Luther with Idris Elba on HBO without subtitles, Mare of Easttown on HBO and so many others.
I did not need to vary much from my normal settings.
There is plenty of volume available, too.
With the background sound pushed away, dialogue prominent, front and center, quite literally, the spoken words are there and they are clear. In dialogue-enhancing modes, I found it was reasonable to lower the volume. With levels of non-dialogue sound quashed, I did not need it to be so loud.
Next, I tried listening to music via Roku on the Amazon Music app. Here is where the internal Dolby®Digital technology blossomed through the virtual surround settings. I chose some symphonic selections, some pop music, and classic rock, including some of my favorites from the Beatles. The music seemed to come from all around in an immersive experience, and all from this small chamber measuring 17″w x 3 3/8″d x 2 7/8″h that tips the scales at only about three pounds.
Enough about my ears. It was time for another pair to give it a try.
Employing the ears of a friend who requires hearing aids, I was amazed to see how different were his preferred settings from mine. Ah, now it is most apparent that this sound bar’s versatility accommodates the needs of a wide user base.
Because of the variations in sound profiles from program to program and the dynamic changes in hearing as we age, as well as for individuals experiencing hearing issues, ZVOX AV157 is designed for now and for later, for your ears now and later, and for the benefit of visiting friends and relatives.
**WHAT ARE THE TRADEOFFS?**
In exchange for unlocking and understanding dialogue, some settings lose the full scope of highs and lows otherwise presented to the listener. And, of course, this increased ability to discern and understand dialogue removes, in most instances, the need for closed captioning.
This sound bar is ideal for installations where a true 5.1 or higher surround sound system is not possible or likely, either due to the expense or space limitations. Many modern AVR (Audio Video Receivers) have settings that can somewhat mitigate muddy dialogue through settings, but none are capable of doing the job as I have experienced with this ZVOX. Imagine that! You can spend thousands of dollars on a surround sound system and still NOT be able to understand dialogue.
Contrast $300 for this ZVOX against at least $400 and up for a decent AVR, plus hundreds to thousands of dollars for at least five speakers and at least one subwoofer. The expense, setup and settings for a comprehensive audio system may be beyond the capabilities of many readers. Setting up and using this ZVOX AV157 is a piece of cake! Just ONE optical cable connected to your TV. Turn it on, enjoy, hear what you have been missing, repeat, and don’t forget to smile.
Now that I have had the weeks of experience with this ZVOX, I am pleased to have made the effort. No matter whose ears may listen to my AV157, I am confident there is a setting that will restore the dialogue that would otherwise go unheard.
I did not test it while connected to an external subwoofer.
Hands-on experience is everything. No matter what you may read and no matter what online demo you may find, there is nothing that comes close to trying this in your home. That is why ZVOX offers a generous 60-day in-home trial and free shipping. Hearing really is believing. With such a generous home trial, I am sure few are returned!
If you struggle to understand dialog from what you are watching on a TV screen, do try this ZVOX AV157. Be sure to spend the time to experience all it has to offer and all the settings on a variety of programming. Do some advance homework and make note of TV shows and movies with dialogue that give you fits and cause you to switch on Closed Captions. If you have a DVR or DVDs (and a player), so much the better, so you can play back the problems on demand while finding settings that work for you in various scenarios.
I don’t expect any of you to dedicate the time I have devoted to this product evaluation. This has been a labor of love, wherein, “I try it before you buy it.” It has proven to be a useful, powerful tool delivering to my ears clear and understandable dialogue. My Closed Captions are OFF (except while watching foreign films)!
Competition? NONE. This is unique in every meaningful and beneficial way.
This is one very cool gadget with a well-deserved recommendation to purchase one (or more)! I know you will love this product as much as I. Buy directly from the manufacturer link at the top with FREE shipping, the 60-day in-home trial and FREE lifetime technical support OR buy from Amazon through my Mr. Gadget link. As an Amazon Associate, I may receive a small commission when choosing to purchase through links in my articles. You will pay not one penny more. Thank you for your support!
ZVOX AV157 comes with the manufacturer’s one year warranty and lifetime tech support.