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ZVOX Audio 315
The ZVOX 315 is one of the more unusual speaker systems we've tested. Rather than a portable, battery-powered system, or a 3-piece sub/sat home system, it's a box. Just a plain, black, rectangular box -- or, as ZVOX calls it, a "one-box audio system." Designed as a super-easy-to-set-up audio system for computers, portable audio players, TVs, DVD players, and video games, the 315 is right at home with your iPod and computer. You just plug one end of the included cable into the headphone jack on your iPod or computer, plug the other into the 315's input jack, and then calibrate the volume and bass controls on the 315. (After this "set it and forget it" setup, you control the volume exclusively through your iPod or computer.) You can also connect a second audio source, such as a TV. In fact, the 315 is most at home underneath or on top of your television or computer display.
Although the ZVOX is a relatively small, single-box system, it includes the company's PhaseCue technology, which allows the 315 to simulate "surround" effects to increase the soundstage and ambiance of recordings. We liked PhaseCue when watching movies, but it resulted in an unwanted "echo" when listening to music, so we disabled it for music use. (Unfortunately, the PhaseCue control is located on the rear of the unit, making it difficult to make frequent adjustements.)
In terms of sound quality, the 315 is somewhat midrange heavy -- good for understanding spoken passages on TV and in movies, but we wanted a bit more detail when listening to music. The unit's bass output is good given the size of the enclosure, and more than adequate unless you're a fan of "booming" bass.
Overall, the ZVOX 315 doesn't sound as good as our Playlist Pick systems, but it's still a solid speaker setup. Because of its one-piece form factor and audio/video versatility, it would be ideal for a college dorm room, home office, or bedroom -- any place where you want improved sound without a lot of wires or complicated setup.--Dan Frakes
ZVOX Audio 315