ZVOX 4004201 Audio Z-Base 420 Low-Profile Single Cabinet Sound System Reviews

More Hearing Aids Compared Products

3 Responses to “ZVOX 4004201 Audio Z-Base 420 Low-Profile Single Cabinet Sound System Reviews”

  1. William Edelmayer "Bill E." says:
    70 of 73 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    ZVOX 420 is a great way to go., January 21, 2012
    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: ZVOX 4004201 Audio Z-Base 420 Low-Profile Single Cabinet Sound System (Electronics)

    I got the ZVOX 420 this week!

    The 420 is nicely boxed, with a minimum of extra packaging. It’s very easy to unbox, and the “quick setup” brochure comes on top and outside the packaging. Best part: there’s no “extended setup,” the setup really is so simple a child could do it.

    After unboxing the 420 I found it came with a remote (no batteries, needed two AAs), the 420 itself, an optical sound cable, and a cable to plug an MP3 player into the 420’s headphone jack. The 420 comes with a laptop sized power brick, which uses a standard PC power cable. There are additional directions with it to describe the different surround sound options (3 settings) and explain how to program the 420 to obey your remote of choice.

    The enclosure is MDF, mostly flattish-black, has a black front metal grill, and nice and solid. There is one port, rear firing, for the bass. It has 4 round feet with plastic “footies” to stand on and not scratch whatever surface you set this on.

    I chose to put my TV on top of the 420, which was the hardest part of the setup, as my LCD TV isn’t the lightest thing ever. Once the TV was out of the way, I cleaned up some dust, placed the 420, plugged in its power cable, and plugged in the optical cable. Once done, I set the TV back on top.

    Sitting under the TV, the 420 basically disappears. Honestly, if you’re not looking for it, it’s just going to melt into the background. When turning up or down the volume, there is a nice orange numeric display to show the volume level, and then it’s gone a second later. When muted, it flashes -00- until you unmute it. I love the appearance of this 420, as it’s exactly what I wanted – subtle and no fuss.

    I have a Toshiba TV that has a fixed-volume optical pass through, which is how I chose to send sound to the 420. I plugged in the optical cable to my TV’s optical out, cleaned up some cabling, then turned it all on.
    Like I said, a child could do the setup…after the TV, cable box, and 420 were all on, I had to hit “input” on the 420’s remote to select optical in. Then sound came out. Yay!

    I played with the bass, treble, dialogue enhancement, and surround settings for a minute, then decided to train the 420 to use my remote. This is also very simple. One hits two buttons on the front of the 420, holds them, and the screen says LRN1. You press the volume up button on the remote you want to use, and the ZVOX box learns it. You do this for volume up, down, mute, and power. There’s no way it took more than 3 minutes to train the 420 to respond to our U-verse remote. Having done that, setup was complete. The box comes on, turns off, and goes up and down in volume all from one remote.
    Now – how’s the sound?

    The sound is pretty darn good!

    I’m not going to compare this system to a 5.1 or x.1 system, because that would be unfair to the ZVOX 420. I think the fairest comparison is to a soundbar + sub setup.
    So far as wires and setup go, I think the 420 did exactly what I wanted. I didn’t have to find space to mount it, or a place to put a sub. The 420 simply went under the TV. Things don’t get easier than that, so I think a soundbar is beat here.

    Sound quality is fantastic. The reproduction of voices and dialogue is clear, easy to understand, and far outshines any TV’s built in speakers. Also, compared to other systems I’ve heard with a center channel, the 420 stands proud, as voices come clearly from the center of the soundstage. The 420 is better at midrange than I would have thought, given that it uses five 2″ drivers. They faithfully and clearly reproduce mids and highs really well.

    The front drivers are solely responsible for the 420’s ability to produce “surround sound” and they work pretty well doing it. There are three drivers clustered in the middle of the 420, and the other two take up positions at the left and right ends. There are 3 surround settings, each one emphasizing “surround” more than the previous. All of them work fairly well; watching some action films we got a few sound effects clearly coming from the “left,” traversing the soundstage, and moving “right.” That said, it’s not as good as a 5.1 system, which I already said isn’t a fair comparison.

    Compared to the few soundbars I’ve heard, this ZVOX 420 is better than most. So far as I expected a single set of front mounted speakers to fake surround sound, they are better than I figured it’d be – so I’m a happy guy. Now onto bass…

    The 5.25 inch sub is downward firing, and covered in a nice grill. The sub does exactly what you’d figure a 5.25 inch sub does. It produces a nice, solid, bottom end to the sound. The bass and low-mids are tight, loud, and solid. There is little “boom” or uncontrolled bass from this box; it’s just excellent sounding. If you’re wanting earth shattering, earthquake levels of bass, this is not your box. Get a separate sub for…

    Read more

    Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 

    Was this review helpful to you? Yes

  2. Dave R says:
    37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Not perfect, but pretty darn good, September 6, 2012
    Dave R (West Virginia) –

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: ZVOX 4004201 Audio Z-Base 420 Low-Profile Single Cabinet Sound System (Electronics)

    I’ve been reading glowing reviews of ZVOX “sound bars” for several years and finally took the plunge last week by purchasing the model 420. I was in the market for an inexpensive way to improve my 37″ Sony’s poor sound on normal TV viewing, as well as giving me something of a home theater experience while watching DVD’s. After a week of getting used to the 420 and playing around with the various settings I here to say…it’s a keeper, although nothing close to a 5.1 set-up.

    The 420 is basically 5 small front facing drivers and a down firing sub enclosed in an attractive, unobtrusive and solidly built wooden case. The unit is much deeper than a normal sound bar (it’s closer to a pizza box than a sound bar) so if you’re considering it, make sure you have the room. The front drivers are completely hidden, and the LED display, which lights up the volume and other settings, is only visible while making adjustments – in other words, you’ll soon forget the 420 is even there.

    Set-up is simple, although there was some initial frustration and I had to do some Googling to figure out why it wouldn’t work with the supplied optical digital cable. It seems that the unit IS NOT Dolby Digital compatible (a fact that is not covered at all in the manual). My primary content source is Netflix via an Apple TV, and it turns out in order to use the optical cable I had to turn off the Dolby Digital On/Off setting on my Apple TV. According to the ZVOX help forums, DD is too expensive to license so all sources are converted to analog. My instinct was to set-up the 420 with the optical cable for the best sound, but ZVOX insists that all sound is converted to analog so there is absolutely no difference in quality regardless of what type of cable you use (digital optical or standard red & white RCA cables). Bottom line is took less than 5 minutes to come up with the solution via the internet, and then only a minute to get the 420 woking with Netflix after that. No problem for me, but a lot of people like my Mom wouldn’t have been able to figure it out. ZVOX needs to come clean about the Dolby Digital issue in the supplied literature and include more specific step-by-step installation and problem solving solutions.

    OK. So it’s hooked up. Now how does it sound? The first test was “Batman Begins” on standard DVD and while it didn’t blow me away, it was pretty darn impressive. The rich, full, and undistorted bass was beyond expectations. Dialog was clear. Stereo separation was present, and you could hear the depth of immersion increase with the 3 Surround Sound settings on the 420’s remote, but overall the stereo/surround experience was a little disappointing. Still, if you have realistic expectations for a $225* 1 piece sound bar, it kicks butt on action movies and other well recorded DVD’s. I cranked it up to louder than I’d ever listen normally and it filled the living room without a hint of distortion.

    Normal TV viewing, on the other hand, is less impressive. Of course, when the source is an old episode of “Frasier” or some 80’s movie via Netflix I don’t expect it to engulf me in the surround experience, but I was hoping for slightly better performance in the dialog enhancement department. Yes, the 420 does improve the clarity of the dialog versus my TV’s built in speakers (big deal), but it also seems to amplify the problematic difference between loud and quiet segments. That’s always been an issue for me, but I was hoping the 420’s “Dialog Enhancement” and “Output Leveling” options would make a significant improvement – they don’t on most shows. Loud passages of dialog were generally crisp and clear, but quiet passages were whisper quiet, regardless of the DE or OL settings. So watching a show with the entire family is fine as I can just turn it up nice and loud and we can hear every word. But watching at night when others are trying to sleep is an issue as I can’t hear half the dialog and the 420 doesn’t help at all on any setting. Additionally, many TV shows sounded hollow and echoey – certainly the result of the source material, but again, not really improved (and often seemingly amplified by) the ZVOX.

    The 420 comes with a 30 day return policy which is awesome. I’m keeping mine. I may even end up unhooking the ZVOX from TV sound and simply using it for watching movies on DVD. While it’s not the ultimate home theater listening experience, what it does for the sound quality of DVD’s for the price is undeniable. It’s good looks, ease of use, and solid build quality make the ZVOX 420 a great value in the sound bar market (yes, I’ve tried others and returned them) and a purchase I’m very happy with.

    * [I got my 420 used for $225 (no shipping charge) directly from ZVOX thru Amazon Marketplace. The unit took about 10 days to arrive, but for me it was worth the 25% savings off the $299 price of a new one. Still comes with the full warranty and 30 return policy.]

    Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 

    Was this review helpful to you? Yes

  3. Warren Howard says:
    16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    It Works for Me!, January 25, 2012
    Warren Howard (Bellbrook, OH, US) –

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: ZVOX 4004201 Audio Z-Base 420 Low-Profile Single Cabinet Sound System (Electronics)

    I really can’t add anything beyond what has been said by previous reviewers. You open the nicely packaged box, follow the 3-4 step setup process and you are done.

    The training of my Uverse remote was a snap–no looking up strange numbers, just press the respective buttons on command and this box learns the settings–one minute at most.

    I bought this because the dialog from my Sharp Aquos was frequently “mushy”, maybe due to my advancing age. The ZVOX has a special setting for dialog emphasis which solved my problem.

    The box is bigger than I had anticipated but it fits quite nicely under our 42″ LCD.

    Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 

    Was this review helpful to you? Yes

Powered by Yahoo! Answers