Get a Zvox SoundBase 555 Speaker System for $299.99

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Here’s an inconvenient (and sucky) truth: The speakers built into most HDTVs sound like tinny AM-radio throwbacks. They’re awful! So why do people live with them? Probably because of the hassles and expense of buying an AV receiver and cluttering up their living rooms with speakers and wires.

But, let’s face it, if you want your Blu-ray edition of “Gravity” and binge sessions of “Orange is the New Black” to sound as awesome as they should, you’ll need some kind of home-theater audio hardware. My preference: simple, inexpensive, and effective.

Done, done, and done. For a limited time, Zvox Audio is offering the SoundBase 555 speaker system for $299.99, a savings of $100.

The SoundBase packs five speakers and a subwoofer into a single, low-profile wood cabinet that’s designed to sit under your TV. This particular model can accommodate anything up to 55 inches; Zvox offers a larger version, the SoundBase 580, if you have a bigger screen. (Just be prepared to spend another $100.)

This all-in-one design means you don’t have to deal with speakers and wires all over the place. It connects to your TV (or other audio source) via RCA, optical, or coaxial cable, then just plugs into an AC outlet. Easy-peasy.

The 555 offers a number of smart features, not the least of which is Dialog Emphasis. Ever notice how you can barely hear voices when you’re watching a movie, but explosions sound like they’re going to blow the roof off? When you activate DE, voices get amplified.

Likewise, the speaker’s Output Leveling feature keeps volume levels consistent, not only between channels, but also between TV programs and commercials.

The 555 also has an audio-in jack for connecting your smartphone or tablet, a digital display that disappears after you’ve set your desired volume, and an easy-to-program control system that works with your existing remote(s).

I actually bought one of these to replace a much more expensive sound bar that lacked the features I mentioned above. And I have a smaller SoundBase, the bedroom-friendly 220 ($169.99), which is excellent.

So if you’re looking for an affordable, effective, and ridiculously easy upgrade for your TV audio, look no further. And trust me when I say you’ll be blown away by the difference these speakers make. After all, you invested a good chunk of change to please your eyes; don’t your ears deserve the same happiness?

Veteran technology writer Rick Broida is the author of numerous books, blogs, and features. He lends his money-saving expertise to CNET and, and also writes for PC World and Wired.


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  1. Lyman in Boston

    5 months ago


    I have to agree with you on this one. Although I have the ZVOX 555 in the bedroom and a regular, nerd-aholic 5.1 setup in the bedroom.

    The 555 sounds good enough that I have a Roku there and use it to stream music through the speakers while doing chores or reading. No more weak clock-radio sound!

    I recently watched some of Pacific Rim on Tivo in the bedroom, and the Zvox supplied more than adequate volume and bass. Not like the foundation-cracking subwoofer in the family room, but enough bass that I didn’t feel like I was missing anything.

    I also purchased one for my parents who had just moved and purchased a premium Samsung TV that had appalling sound. The difference is night and day. They benefit more from the audio clarity than the enhanced bass, but they really appreciate it. They never got the hang of the receiver and speakers, even with a Harmony remote.

    Recommended. And they have sales frequently.

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