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Zvox president Tom Hannaher first amazed us with big sound in a small package way back when this magazine was known as boot. Tom was with Cambridge Soundworks at the time, and we published the very first review of the Microworks 2.1-channel speaker system.
The Zvox 325 is just as remarkable—we’re amazed at the room-filling sound it delivers. The self-powered system is perfect for environments where it’s inconvenient or impossible to deploy a conventional surround-sound array. The sturdy, magnetically shielded cabinet will easily support an LCD monitor for near-field listening, too.
There are three 3.25-inch main speakers, a 4x6-inch long-throw subwoofer, and a three-channel amplifier inside the 17-inch-wide box, but the Zvox 325 projects an amazingly wide sound stage thanks to technology dubbed PhaseCue. The bi-amplified system takes a standard stereo input (left + right), mixes it, and feeds it to the center, monaural speaker. This same signal is routed through a second amp channel (and a crossover) for the subwoofer.
The third amp channel is used for the left and right speakers, and this is where it gets strange: Zvox wires these speakers out of phase. This would normally result in a very hollow, localized sound; but it has the exact opposite effect in the Zvox 325, thanks to the center speaker and a plastic tube connecting the left and right speakers. Out-of-phase right-channel audio from the left speaker is mixed with “normal” left-channel audio, and the same phenomenon occurs in the right channel. Close your eyes and you’d swear you were hearing a pair of speakers standing six feet apart.
The Zvox 325 doesn’t have a decoder for DTS or Dolby Digital, nor does it have six discrete analog inputs for decoded 5.1-channel surround sound, so it’s not very effective at fooling your ears into perceiving audio events as originating behind your head. Yamaha’s YSP-800 is far better on that score, but it costs more than twice as much and needs to be supplemented by a subwoofer. The Zvox 325 delivers great performance with movies, and it sounds even better with music.
Month Reviewed: December 2006