ZVOX 325 Sound System Page 2

The Short Form
Price: $350 / zvoxaudio.com / 781-599-5493
Though it can't replace a component home theater system, this all-in-one sound solution makes a compact, powerful upgrade for TV and movie watching.
•Compact size •Easy installation •Accurate midrange reproduction •Plays loud (for a small speaker system) •Decent bass extension (for a small system)
•Slightly subdued highs •PhaseCue processing can't pass for true surround sound
Key Features
•3 x 3.25-in forward-firing drivers; 6 x 4-in powered woofer •Credit-card remote control for volume/mute •Automatic signal-sensing on/off control •Volume, PhaseCue, subwoofer controls •High-grade MDF cabinet •Connections: 3 minijack in, 1 minijack subwoofer out •17 x 5 x 17 in
More important, ZVOX made some helpful refinements in the Mini, several of which they have carried over to their newest model, the 325 - the biggest and most powerful ZVOX yet. The critical volume and PhaseCue knobs have been moved from the back of the cabinet to the front, where they can now be used on the fly without inconvenience. A credit-card remote control has also been added to adjust volume and mute from your seat. And the woofer has been upgraded from a 5.25-inch driver in the 315 to a 6 x 4-inch unit that can move more air.

The ZVOX 325 sound system further benefits from a slightly larger bandpass cabinet - it retains the 315's 17-inch component-matching width but is a half-inch taller and 2 inches deeper. It has a much more powerful and sophisticated amp as well, said not only to deliver twice the power of the 315 to the critical center driver but also to provide some "contouring" of the sound to extract better sound. You'll pay for these improvements, of course: The 325 carries a price of $350, a not inconsiderable premium over the original.

SETUP Pulling the 325 from the box, it was hard not to notice the substantial heft of its MDF (medium-density fiberboard) cabinet - no cheap, ringing plastic case here! The outside is coated with a nice rubberized finish (in black or silver), and the underside has nonslip rubber feet. With a little finagling I had just enough depth atop my old 42-inch rear-projection HDTV to give the ZVOX stable footing, but with today's lithe flat-panel and microdisplay sets, most folks will put it on a shelf below the screen.

Setup is quite simple; all the instructions for hookup and operation are contained on one side of an 8.5 x 11-inch card. Besides a connector for plugging in its 12-volt power brick, the ZVOX 325 has but two minijacks on its back panel. The first (Input 1) is the primary stereo audio input, for which ZVOX supplies both an RCA-to-miniplug cord for hooking up a TV or traditional components, as well as a miniplug-to-miniplug cable for directly connecting an iPod dock or PC. The second minijack on the back can function as either a second input or an output for a separate powered subwoofer; when it is used as an input, Input 1 is automatically muted. Likewise, the primary input is overridden whenever you use the third input, a convenience minijack on the front panel good for temporary hookup of a portable music player. In addition to the volume and PhaseCue controls on the front panel, there's a subwoofer volume knob on the back to help fine-tune the bass output.

I tried a couple of different ways of rigging the unit. In most instances, ZVOX recommends plugging the mini-plug-to-RCA cable into the stereo output on your TV, then using the TV's menu to turn off the TV's internal speakers and turn on its variable output mode. This enables you to control the volume of the 325 with your regular TV or set-top box remote.

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