Zvox, finest recognized for soundbars and soundbases, has expanded its product lineup to incorporate Bluetooth headphones with lively noise cancellation (ANC) and even listening to aids. So, I made a decision to take a look at the AV50 headphones, that are touted because the world’s first headphone designed for customers aged 55 and older.
The function aimed particularly at that demographic is way more refined than I anticipated, however the general sound is great in any case.
The AV50 is comparatively small and light-weight at solely 8.1 ounces, and it may be folded right into a small hard-shell case for travelling. Single dynamic drivers make the most of neodymium magnets and obtain a specified frequency vary from 15Hz to 23kHz (±4dB).
Bluetooth 4.1 offers wi-fi connectivity utilizing the aptX, AAC, and SBC codecs in addition to A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, and HSP profiles. It additionally comes with a 3.5mm cable for a wired connection.
Active noise cancellation (ANC) generates sound that’s 180 levels out of part with ambient sound picked up by two onboard microphones, mixing each alerts to scale back the extent of the ambient sound by way of phase-inverted cancellation. Unlike different ANC headphones, the AV50 should be totally powered on to activate its noise cancellation. I desire having the choice to have interaction ANC with out powering Bluetooth to get pleasure from some peace and quiet with out audio whereas drawing much less energy from the battery. To lengthen the battery life, you may hearken to audio with out ANC.
This evaluate is a part of TechHive’s protection of the best headphones, the place you’ll discover opinions of competing merchandise, plus a purchaser’s information to the options you need to take into account when buying.
The function aimed particularly at older customers is known as AccuVoice, which works together with ANC. It purports to reinforce voices whereas lowering undesirable noise, so that you perceive dialog higher with out having to show up the amount. Specifically, it gently raises the extent and compresses the dynamics of frequencies from 500- to 3,000Hz. This is the frequency vary of speech consonants, that are essential for intelligibility. Unfortunately, you may’t have interaction ANC with out AccuVoice; I want that was an choice.
Like just about all Bluetooth headphones, the AV50 can be utilized with a cell phone to reply calls and converse with callers utilizing an onboard microphone in the fitting earcup. That mic is unbiased from the 2 microphones utilized by the ANC system.
The rechargeable battery lasts as much as 12 hours with Bluetooth and ANC engaged; when you flip off ANC, the battery life extends as much as 18 hours. With a wired connection and ANC, the battery lasts as much as 15 hours, however with out ANC, a wired connection doesn’t drain the battery in any respect. It takes about two hours to recharge a completely depleted battery.
Four buttons on the decrease rear of the fitting earcup present all of the controls. A multifunction button is flanked by + and – buttons, that are taller than the multifunction button, making them straightforward to seek out by really feel. The multifunction button turns the facility on and off, initiates Bluetooth pairing, and solutions and disconnects cellphone calls. The + and – buttons management the amount and skip to the following or earlier observe.
The fourth button is separate from the opposite three. It turns ANC/AccuVoice on and off.
At the underside of the fitting earcup is a 3.5mm jack for a wired connection to the supply gadget. A mini USB port on the backside of the left earcup helps you to cost the battery. Finally, a multicolored LED between the ANC and different buttons signifies the standing of pairing, ANC, and Bluetooth. A blue LED subsequent to the USB port signifies charging standing.
The AV50 feels considerably flimsy, and the earcups are comparatively small, however I received them to seat properly over my ears after some fussing. Oddly, adjusting the place of the earcups on my head whereas enjoying music with ANC on prompted some crackling and distortion, however not with ANC off.
Since AccuVoice is meant to make voices clearer, I targeted on music with vocals. Listening to Tidal Master tracks (uncompressed or losslessly compressed high-res audio), I began with “I Got Rhythm” from Love is Here to Stay, by Diana Krall and Tony Bennett. I couldn’t hear a lot distinction in any respect between ANC/AccuVoice on and off. The vocals had been clear and well-defined, the piano was clear and pure, and the drum brushes had been crisp.
The similar was true on “Green Flower Street” from Donald Fagen’s album Nightfly. The vocals had been barely extra current with ANC/AccuVoice on, and the general sound was a bit hotter and better in degree, however the distinction was refined.
Marvin Gaye’s basic “What’s Going On” from the album of the identical title sounded nice. With ANC/AccuVoice on, the lead vocal was a bit extra current and up-front, and the general sound was a bit richer with beefier bass.
“Free Man in Paris” from Joni Mitchell’s album Court and Sparokay was a lot the identical. With ANC/AccuVoice on, the general sound was richer, the bass was larger, and the vocal was barely extra current. On or off, the observe sounded wonderful.
Moving on to classical music, I listened to Cecelia Bartoli sing Nell’ attendere mio bene from Nicola Porpora’s opera Polifemo on the album Farinelli with Il Giardino Armonico underneath the course of Giovanni Antonini. With ANC/AccuVoice on, the general sound was a contact hotter and richer, and the vocal was a bit extra ahead, however the distinction between ANC/AccuVoice on and off was very refined.
Finally, I took the AV50 on a drive round my neighborhood to check its noise cancelling in a considerably noisy setting. The acoustic isolation of the earpads is kind of good, and ANC is great, lowering the extent of ambient noise considerably. As earlier than, with ANC on, vocals had been a bit extra current and ahead, and the general degree appeared a bit greater, nevertheless it wasn’t a dramatic distinction.
I in contrast the efficiency of the AV50 with the Edifier W860NB, which I reviewed here, as a result of it’s in the identical worth vary. I additionally in contrast it with the Sony WH-1000XM3, reviewed here, though Sony’s headphone is twice the worth of the AV50. For this comparability, ANC was on your entire time, and I matched the extent in every headphone as finest I may by ear.
Listening to “Time Out of Mind” from Steely Dan’s album Gaucho, the Edifier sounded leaner and extra restrained, and the bass was barely subdued. The Zvox sounded richer and hotter, and the bass was maybe only a tad overbalanced. The Sony was even richer, with the bass drum extra pronounced than with the opposite two headphones.
The WH-1000XM3 was essentially the most snug headphone to put on by far. Also, the Edifier and Sony didn’t crackle when the earcups had been jiggled. Another comparative issue is the scale of the case; the Zvox case is the smallest, making it simpler to pack in your carry-on bag. The Edifier case is the biggest, with the Sony within the center.
Which mannequin you would like relies on your style in audio copy. If you want a leaner sound, I like to recommend the Edifier W860NB (with ANC on; turning it off degrades the sound high quality considerably, as I focus on in my evaluate). But when you gravitate towards a richer sound, the Zvox and Sony match that invoice properly.
The Zvox AV50 is a wonderful wi-fi ANC headphone. The sound high quality is wealthy and clear, and the noise cancellation could be very efficient. I discovered the AccuVoice function to offer very refined enchancment in vocal presence and general richness, however not almost as a lot as I anticipated. It sounds simply positive with ANC/AccuVoice off, which I can’t say about many ANC headphones.
On the draw back, the construct high quality feels considerably flimsy, and the sound crackles with ANC on when shifting the earcups to get an excellent match. Earlier, I stated that I’d desire the AccuVoice function to be unbiased of ANC, however since its impact is so refined, that’s not likely a priority for me anymore.
At a penny lower than $150, the AV50 is a superb worth. If you’re out there for over-ear ANC headphones, this one is price a critical hear.