The Zvox IncrediBase 580 weighs 33 pounds and is 36 inches wide by 16.5 inches deep by five inches high and it is not a soundbar, for its size, I’d call it a sound-platform. You may be wondering why the Zvox is so big. Well, the Zvox IncrediBase 580 is meant to be used as a platform for your television, which makes it quite practical for me to place it under my Sony 55EX720 LCD TV. Furthermore, you can not escape the law of physics that size matters. Housed in this ported sound-platform are two 6.5” down-firing subwoofers and five 3.25” front firing full-range long-throw drivers with, according my Real Time Analyzer positioned in my listening position using frequency sweep, goes all the way down to 32 Hz with a variants of only +/- 2dB, which is very flat even for the mastering-studio community. The height also brought up my TV’s viewing height by almost half a foot, which results in a better viewing height for me.
The Zvox IncrediBase 580 has two analog inputs, one optical (Toslink) digital input, one S/PDIF coaxial digital input including a front panel 3.5mm analog stereo input which makes connecting my iPod Touch a breeze. The IncrediBase 580 also has a subwoofer output jack, which is a thoughtful option if you want to add a separate subwoofer to attain extra bass, although in my case, my 8” mini subwoofer does not help much at all in enhancing the already jaw-dropping bass response. The only way a subwoofer can enhance this sound-platform is if you use a subwoofer with a calibre of PSB SubSeries 300, which although sounds amazing, is physically far too big for my secondary viewing area. This unit does not disappoint when it comes to the plethora of input options, with the exception of not being compatible with DTS while using the digital inputs. The unit also comes with a remote control, which is small, quite basic, but it does the job perfectly. This has to be one of the easiest setups in the history of audio and video equipment for all it took was a power cord and (in my case) a pair of RCA cable running from my TV to the unit. In fact, it was my 13-year-old daughter who set this unit up; after all, the Sony 55EX720 is her TV.
The Zvox IncrediBase 580 houses the speakers and their matching amplifiers, powered subwoofers and the proprietary PhaseCue II virtual surround sound all in one fairly slim cabinet. ZVOX’s PhaseCue II virtual surround processing to gives you rich, three-dimensional sound with movies or music. With music, PhaseCue II creates a very wide soundstage – it literally sounds like I’m listening to speakers eight feet apart from each other; it’s quite ingenious, really. When listening to a good movie, while it does not produce surround effects of a good 5.1 system, the 580 does a remarkable job in recreating the soundtrack’s realism.
While the Class-D amplifier pumps out 120 Watts, according to my Kill-A-Watt meter, the average power usage sucked by the Zvox 580 is merely 10 Watts with a standby power of a miniscule 0.1 Watt. Extremely efficient and « green » without sacrificing the performance even a tiny bit. Another one of my favourite features is the « DE » button on the remote that stands for “Dialogue Emphasis” and was so helpful when the dialogue would get drowned out. The algorithm of 580’s Dialogue Emphasis is the best I’ve ever heard. The dialogue is boosted with only a hint of dynamic compression being heard while the rest of the frequencies were pushed down. This feature works even that much better when I use discrete 5.1 digital input from the Blu-ray Disc player.
The IncrediBase 580 also has an Output-Levelling (OL) button that activates a dynamic compression system to reduce the audio highs and increases audio lows for a more balanced listening experience, which once again works far better than any soundbar I’ve ever tested.
The overall sound from the Zvox is quite impressive considering everything is in one box. Even if you are a discerning audiophile (or just very nit-picky like me), the Zvox will surely satisfy your ears in the quite the same way a traditional 2.0 or 2.1 channel setup of the same-price would, the Zvox simply rocks. The soundstage is amazing and sound sounds like they are coming from outside and around the sound-platform. My daughter loved how loud the Zvox was able to play within my larger-than-average-sized living room with Cathedral Ceiling and I applaud how clean the sound being produced even at high level of output. The bass performance did not disappoint either. Playing my bass-demo CD “It Came From Outer Bass” using my trustworthy Pioneer PD-D9 as a transport connected via S/PDIF to the 580 was impressive. Ultra low bass frequencies which not only I can hear but also feel… the Zvox 580’s bass was shockingly good.
After torturing myself in listening to the built-in sound of my TV, then fixed it a bit by adding an eight-inch subwoofer, followed by adding a stereo amp and a pair of PSB Century 300i speakers from my studio days, this unit is a godsend (well, actually it was hand-sent by Lenbrook, the distributor of Zvox in Canada, but I digress). Now I can pack up my two large-ish bookshelf speakers, stereo integrated amp, subwoofer, subwoofer cable, speaker cables in exchange for an all-in-one unit.
Is it perfect? It’s as perfect as an all-in-one unit can be thus far and the relatively low price of $549 MSRP (compared to my previous set up of the same sound quality but costing me close to $1,200 MSRP including cables, not to mention the size and clutter) makes the Zvox IncrediBase 580 a bargain. My thirteen-year-old daughter asked me to buy this unit. That’s the highest compliment if there is one.