The ZVOX Philosophy: Keep It Simple, Make It Better
We started ZVOX in 2003 because audio systems were getting too complicated. Every year home theater system got more speakers, more wires, more inputs, more remote controls and bigger owner’s manuals. We knew that couldn’t last.
So we designed a simple, all-in-one-cabinet home theater system and introduced it in 2004. CNET has called that product the first commercially successful sound bar. Within five years of its introduction every audio company offered sound bars, and multi-speaker surround sound systems were starting to disappear.
We still strive to make audio systems simple. But even more important, we try to make them better. Here are some examples:
AccuVoice Dialogue Boosting Technology
Flat screen TVs look great but have weak sound. So many people – of all ages – have difficulty understanding voices on TV programs. Our AccuVoice feature uses hearing aid technology to lift voices out of the background sounds, so dialogue is clear – even at low volumes. This technology is built into all our current products, and we sell specialized AccuVoice Speakers whose primary purpose is clear dialogue.
Who Invented The Sound Bar?
Many ZVOX employees worked for Cambridge SoundWorks in the 1980s and 1990s. We created a product in 1997 called TVWorks which was one of the first sound bar style products ever made. It was not a success – nor were some other products developed at that time. The first ZVOX audio system (the Model 315) is arguably the first successful sound bar (see the CNET article, “Who invented the sound bar speaker?”). ZVOX changed the way people listen to TV, long before the big-name companies followed suit.
ZVOX Invented The SoundBase.
As flat screen TVs became more popular, people stopped wall-mounting them and instead used their built-in pedestal bases. This made it difficult to place the typical sound bar of the time, which was designed for wall mounting. So in 2008 we introduced the SoundBase – a wide, deep, low-profile cabinet that contained an entire home theater system (including subwoofer). This allowed people to place the TV on top of the SoundBase to create a simple, elegant home theater system. Within a few years, those “big name” companies were, once again, copying us.
PhaseCue Virtual Surround.
ZVOX systems use a proprietary technology that creates room-filling 3D sound from one cabinet. Our PhaseCue system literally “fool the ear” into believing that sounds are coming from places in the room where there are no speakers. No, it’s not quite as convincing as a 5-speaker surround system, but it’s quite realistic. You get a room full of sound without a room full of speakers.
Nobody likes it when a commercial comes on that’s really loud. And sometimes people watch movies late at night when kids are sleeping, so loud explosions aren’t such a good idea. Our Output Leveling features “smooths out” volume levels so that loud commercials and explosions are less loud.
Our Sound Systems Are Dumb, Not Smart, For A Reason.
Many companies like to build cool technology into their sound systems. So a few years ago lots of speakers had built-in iPod docks. Then docks became obsolete and everybody switched to Bluetooth. Now Bluetooth is fast becoming “last year’s technology” and wifi-enabled audio streaming is the new in thing. Wifi speakers are “smart.” But what happens when the next new technology comes out? Do you throw away your sound system and get a new one?
So here’s what we do. We put multiple inputs on our products. And one of those inputs is usually “autosensing” (if it receives a signal, it turns on the speaker and switches to that input). This lets you add wifi sound to a ZVOX system by spending about $30 on a Googlecast receiver that you attach to one of the inputs. Then if new technology comes out, you replace a $30 gizmo, not a multi-hundred-dollar sound system. We think this dumb approach to technology integration is pretty smart.