If you’ve encountered Zvox before, it’s likely because the company makes a family of soundbars that are expressly designed to enhance movie and TV show dialogue, making it easier to understand, even for people with hearing difficulties. It has used that same technology to create wireless headphones. Now, the company is leveraging its expertise in dialogue enhancement once again for its first set of wireless earbuds: The $100 Zvox AV30, which are available staring March 7 on Amazon.com.
The AV30, which look a little like Apple’s AirPods Pro thanks to their glossy white plastic construction, short stem design, and silicone eartips, offer active noise cancellation (ANC) and what Zvox claims is “audiophile-quality sound performance” for both music and movies. The ANC feature can reduce ambient sound by up to 23 decibels (dB), which is decent, but not as aggressive as the ANC earbuds offered by companies like Sony, Bose, Jabra, and Apple, which can often offer a reduction up to 35 dB.
When you’re in ANC mode, the AV30 also engage Zvox’s AccuVoice technology — the same hearing aid-derived tech the company uses in its soundbars. “More and more people are watching movies, TV shows, and sporting events on tablets, phones or laptop computers,” Zvox founder Tom Hannaher said in a press release. “And many of those people, like me, grew up listening to loud music – and now could use a little dialogue boost to help them understand what people are saying.”
Strangely, even though AccuVoice is based on the same principles used in hearing aids, you can’t actually use the AV30 to enhance the voices of people around you, like you can with the Nuheara IQBuds2 Max. When you switch from ANC to the “outside sounds” mode (usually referred to as transparency or ambient mode), the earbuds disengage the AccuVoice feature. A third mode lets you turn off both ANC and outside sounds.
Battery life is rated at just four hours per charge, with a total of 20 hours when you include the case’s capacity. That’s really short by today’s wireless earbuds standards. Even the AirPods Pro, which aren’t exactly known for their stamina, can muster five hours per charge and 25 hours total.
Zvox hasn’t indicated if the AV30 possess any kind of water resistance, and we don’t yet know what functions can be controlled by the earbud’s touch controls. We’re also curious about how AccuVoice is implemented. On the company’s soundbars, you can choose the level of voice enhancement, but it looks as though the AV30 have a simple on/off arrangement whereby AccuVoice is on when you’re using ANC, but off in the other two modes.
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