The ZVOX SoundBase line is a great alternative to a soundbar for anyone who can't get away with installing a proper 5.1 speaker system in their TV room. The company has launched an updated series that boasts more power, adds Bluetooth streaming capability and can support even larger flat-screen televisions.
There are three new models. The 570 ($399.99) supports 45"-60" sets, the 670 ($499.99) supports 50"-70" sets and the 770 ($699.99) can support massive 50"-85" sets, although if you're allowed to have an 85" TV in your living room, it's hard to imagine you can't get away with a full speaker installation as well.
All the good features remain from earlier models: the stand is made from MDF wood instead of plastic, which definitely offers a sound upgrade from most similarly priced soundbars. The controls only light up when you're changing volume or settings, making a SoundBase almost fade into the background in your living room.
I tested out the 670, which features 5 2"x3" speakers, triple 5.25" subwoofers on the bottom and 105 watts of power. That represents a pretty big upgrade from the 570 (5 2" speakers, 1 5.25" subwoofer and 65 watts of power) and offers plenty of punch for most living rooms. It's a giant audio upgrade from the previously reviewed 320.
Setup is easy. Plug in the SoundBase and run and optical cable from your TV. You can use the RCA jacks on the back to plug in a CD player or tape deck and there's a sub output if you have one that you'd like to add to the system.
The system offers an "AccuVoice" setting that amplifies dialog and makes it easier to understand. There's also an output leveling setting to control the volume on those too loud commercials. It's easy to find the mute button by touch. The simulated 5.1 sound was a big improvement over the simulated 5.1 on a highly rated Samsung soundbar that was also hooked up to the same set.
The Bluetooth uses aptX streaming technology and makes it easy to stream from your phone or tablet. There's also an audio jack on the front of the SoundBase if you'd rather plug in an iPod.
The only thing to keep in mind with a SoundBase is that the simulated surround is an "always on" situation: you don't have a straight stereo-only mode for critical music listening. Still, as the most unobtrusive alternative to your television's terrible sound, the SoundBase is a great purchase.