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Review: ZVOX 430 Sound Bar

Written on Nov 5, 2009 by Thomas S. and filed under Reviews, ZVOX Audio

Editor’s Note – This is a review of the ZVOX 430. There’s a similar model, the ZVOX 440, for which this review would also apply. The difference is only in size, the 430 is 30.5″ wide, making it ideal for TVs 32″-42″ in diameter; the 440 is 39″ wide, making it ideal for TVs 40″-52″ in diameter.

The ZVOX 430 Sound Bar follows the path less taken, giving users a simple to use sound system with no compromises in quality. Where most manufactures find ways to cut costs, either by using an over abundance of plastic or cheap components, ZVOX holds nothing back in their wood enclosure speaker systems. The end result is an easy to setup speaker system that brings other “full-size” systems to their knees.

zvox 430

zvox 430 rear

ZVOZ 430 Specification

  • Dimensions; 30.4”w x 5”d x 5.7”h (without the plastic feet, which are removable)
  • Weight: Without external power supply: 13 pounds. With external power supply: 14 pounds
  • Amplifier: The 430 includes built-in 60 watt amplifier
  • Inputs: Two rear “mixing” inputs (if two devices are connected and playing, you will hear both devices): dual RCA jack inputs
  • Frequency range: 45 Hz – 20 kHz
  • The 430 is bi-amplified, using a specially designed amplifier that includes electronic contouring for superb frequency response
  • The 430’s 4” subwoofer with flared port provides accurate low bass reproduction
  • The 430’s three 3.25″ main speaker drivers use ferrofluid and neodymium magnets to create remarkably loud, remarkably clear sound
  • The system is magnetically shielded so it can be used near a TV or monitor
  • A subwoofer output jack on the rear allows owners to connect a separate powered subwoofer (optional)
  • Auto-on/auto-off circuit senses sound from source (TV, iPod, PC) and turns on the 430 two seconds later. Approximately three minutes after it has received no signal, it automatically shuts the unit off
  • MSRP: $450 (currently $399)

Setup

Out of all the systems I have reviewed, the ZVOX 430 was by far the easiest to setup out of sheer simplicity. You remove the single speaker assembly from the shipping box, connect the AC adapter to the wall, connect up to two sources through analog RCA connections, and press power on the remote. That is it, no separate wires, no calibration, not even a display to view what mode you are in, just power and it works. For the average user who just wants high quality sound without all the fuss, the sound bar method is the way to go.

zvox 430 inputs

Usability

The ZVOX 430 was very easy to use, to the point where it became transparent and forgotten. After the first day I left it powered on in its automatic mode, where it shuts down when there is no incoming signal. I didn’t need to use the ZVOX 430’s remote since I had my TV’s speakers disabled and the audio output set to variable so I could control volume with my normal TV remote. The ZVOX system became an extension of my TV, with the TV handling audio like it normally would as you switch to different video inputs. There was no extra device to turn on or second remote needed to watch a movie; you just use your normal remote to handle everything.

zvox 430 remote

To handle sound adjustments, ZVOX does include a remote, but it isn’t needed beyond handling minor changes. You can use the remote to mute the bar, turn the power on or off, put it into auto mode, adjust the subwoofer level, adjust treble, adjust phasecue for simulated surround, and adjust volume. Each command from the remote is met with a blink from the power LED located behind the speaker grill, since there is no display onboard. You just change the setting until you like how it sounds and leave it.

Performance

Audio performance was impressive to say the least. I still remember taking it out of the box and feeling how heavy it was. It is extremely well built, with a very solid wood frame, unlike many of the all-plastic speaker systems that are becoming all too common. Some of that was met with doubt though, when I looked at the backside and only saw analog RCA inputs. I am so used to seeing digital inputs on all of my home theater components; but as noted before, this simple connection method makes it easy for anyone to set up and use ZVOX products.

Don’t let the connection method fool you though, audio quality was fantastic, easily meeting many of the full-size, multi-speaker, home theater systems I have reviewed. While you don’t get the physical separation of a 5.1 system, most of that can be overlooked when you have good rich audio filling your room. Lower-frequency sounds came through thumping with the built-in subwoofer, easily matching many of the unpowered subwoofers of budget 5.1 surround systems.

Midrange and high-notes came through clear, making things like gunshots and explosions sound like they were happening around you. The one audio complaint I have is some interference and static could be heard if you had to ramp up the volume of the sound bar to compensate for a weaker audio source. This was a problem when I connected my home theater computer directly to the ZVOX 430, where even at 100% volume in software, it still didn’t come close to what satellite tuner could pass through the TV. When sound was playing it was hard to notice, and probably isn’t a problem for computers with higher-quality soundcards. Besides the computer, none of my other devices had this problem with static, which included the pass-through audio from my Xbox 360, Blu-ray player, HD-DVD player, and satellite DVR.

Conclusion

The ZVOX 430 Sound Bar is an almost perfect blend of high quality audio components and simple user interface. When properly set up, the user doesn’t even have to change the way they watch movies or TV, since most TV’s can handle variable audio output internally. Since there are no external speakers there are no wires to hide or route through your family room, you simply find an available outlet, and connect the bar to your TV or audio source. Sound quality is superb, easily surpassing same-priced surround systems that put more money into cool features than they do into the speakers themselves. While $450 might sound a lot for a single “speaker”, it is well worth the money if you just want rich sounding audio with none of the hassle.

The ZVOX 430 is available directly from ZVOX for $449 but is currently on sale for $399.

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • High-grade speakers
  • Basically no setup required

Cons

  • Analog inputs can be prone to static or interference

Rating – 4.5 out of 5 Stars – Editor’s Choice

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5 Responses to “Review: ZVOX 430 Sound Bar”

  1. You are right in that this soundbar is showing your audio card for what it is. PCs are just horrible sources for analog audio. An external, professional-grade firewire or USB audio card or really exceptional internal audio card will give you the analog output needed for good monitoring. Otherwise, you are going to hear all sorts of noise coming from the power source.

    By Pete C on Nov 20, 2009 | Reply
  2. Just installed the 430HSD and am very pleased – works so well on all levels – sound and appearance. Setup was a cinch – plug in the power cord and optical cable (input) and you’re done. Accurately described above as “transparent” – there is minimal fiddling with adjustments beyond initial treble/subwoofer/phasecue configuration and volume. Build quality is spot-on – it shows “shows” nicely and the sound is refreshing – for TV – Movies and Music.

    By Dave on Nov 24, 2009 | Reply
  3. @ Dave:
    Optical cable? And it worked?

    By Sam on Dec 9, 2009 | Reply
  4. Sure – The 430HSD is the Model that includes an Optical “IN”.

    By Dave on Feb 1, 2010 | Reply
  5. Do I need the 430HSD version if my DVD is already connected to my tv?

    By Michael Quirit on Feb 1, 2011 | Reply

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