Review: ZVOX AV50 Noise-Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones with AccuVoice

Most headphones strive for a clean sound without any coloration or alteration of the source. The new AV50 noise-cancelling headphones from ZVOX feature AccuVoice technology that intentionally brightens up vocals and dialogue, adding clarity to movies and TV shows, while also reducing ambient noise. Headphones for an older or mildly hearing-impaired crowd? Why not?

The ZVOX AV50 ($150) are wired or wireless Bluetooth with aptX over-ear headphones with active noise cancelling. ZVOX created AccuVoice technology to help improve movie and TV dialogue clarity, and these are the first headphones that use that same technology.

The AV50 are available in black, red, blue or rose-gold pink. They have 11 hours of playback when used wirelessly, and up to 15 hours when used with the included audio cable. Unfortunately, it will take up to 18 hours to recharge the battery if it is completely depleted, so make sure to recharge it before it’s completely out of gas.

The AV50 use active noise cancelling that can be turned on and off by a button on the clearly-labelled right earcup. They provide a good amount of low-frequency noise removal, but still allow some higher frequencies to remain. This allowed me to hear outside voices, which is actually not a bad thing for hearing announcements, etc. while travelling. AccuVoice is automatically turned on when the noise-cancellation is engaged. It would have been preferable to be able to use the two technologies independently.

Without AccuVoice or noise-cancelling on, the AV50 have a bright and clean sound that already has good vocal clarity. The bass response is balanced and natural. While understanding that these headphones are intended to be used to enhance the sound of TV and movies, they will also be used for music. The AccuVoice technology has an interesting effect on the overall sound quality on music playback.

I cued up the live recording of Ray LaMontagne’s “Such a Simple Thing”. Without AccuVoice and noise cancelling engaged, the song is quite bright with an accurate bass response. Unfortunately, turning on noise-cancelling and AccuVoice caused the vocals to develop an unpleasant harshness. It also causes a big increase in the bass response as well, with the kick drum and bass guitar overwhelming the mix.

However, the AV50 really show what they’re made of when used for movies. I cued up a favorite under-rated film, The Interview (1998) starring Hugo Weaving. This is a dialogue-driven drama with heavy Australian accents that makes it crucial to understand every word. Turning on AccuVoice really pumps up the dialogue and makes it much more intelligible, even for someone without any hearing issues. I imagine these would be a great help for anyone who is discovering issues with understanding any dialogue, with or without foreign accents.

At some point, most people will experience some hearing loss as they age. That loss tends to make voices more difficult to hear and causes movie and TV dialogue to be harder to comprehend. The AV50 with AccuVoice technology might not be the best headphones for pure audiophile music enjoyment, but they are certainly a benefit for anyone who struggles to hear TV and movie dialogue.

Kate from ZVOX's picture

Thanks for the review. The AV50s don't actually take 18 hours to recharge, there was an error in the manual. They only take a couple hours.

Tech Reviewer's picture

The only thing I would change about these amazing headphones is to add the ability to turn off the Battery Level announcement. When listening at a low volume it tends to announce suddenly, at a level that jars even the most steely audio consumer. Everything else is fantastic, I'm just not a fan of jumping out of my own skin when the battery level reaches 75%, 50%, 25%, or 10% power remaining.