by Tom Hannaher
ZVOX, the audio company that pioneered the sound bar home theater concept, launches a TV speaker with hearing aid technology built in for superb dialogue clarity. About this project Thin flat screen TVs don’t have room for good built-in sound systems. So TV sound quality is worse than ever – creating an epidemic of people who have trouble understanding dialogue. Can’t hear voice on TV? AccuVoice is the answer!
There is an epidemic taking place in the United States. Millions of people can’t understand dialogue on TV shows and movies. But ZVOX Audio, the company that pioneered sound bar and sound base home theater systems, has the solution. And it’s coming out soon. Here’s the story: Many many people have trouble understanding voices on TV – because Hollywood is experimenting too much with audio mixing techniques, because TV sound systems are worse than ever, and because 95 million people are over 50 years of age and have some degree of hearing impairment. Some details…
1. Hollywood is using more adventurous audio mixing techniques – often resulting in unclear dialogue. Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post recently described a blockbuster Hollywood movie as having “a muddy, thuddingly loud sound design, in which the score and similarly thumping sound effects render spoken dialogue a submerged garble.” She’s not the only one complaining. Dozens of web articles in the last two years complain about soundtracks with muddled, hard-to-understand dialogue. From Downton Abbey to The Walking Dead to football announcers, it’s an epidemic.
2. TV manufacturers put very little effort or expense into TV speaker systems, often using half-inch speakers aimed downwards – or even backwards, away from the listener. The dark secret of TV manufacturers is that they don’t care about sound quality. For years TV designers have been in a market-share war, trying to outdo the competition with thinner, sleeker TVs…which simply aren’t big enough to hold good sound systems. The sound systems in most ultra high definition TVs – with tiny, downward-facing (or backward-facing) speakers – do not sound as good as the sound system in a 1952 Philco black and white TV.
The ultra-small, poorly-aimed speakers in flat screen TVs are often incapable of reproducing human speech clearly and accurately. And the really bad news is that TVs are getting even thinner. The new generation of OLED TVs introduced at the January 2016 Consumer Electronics Show have screens as thin as three millimeters!
3. For the first time in the history of the United States, “seniors” represent the single largest population group. Aging baby boomers – many of whom grew up going to VERY loud Rolling Stones and Who concerts – have dramatically altered the demographic landscape. Over 95 million U.S. citizens are over 50*…and many of them inevitably have some degree of hearing loss. Combine the above three factors and the result is that huge numbers of people are finding it increasingly difficult to understand dialogue on television broadcasts. So what’s the solution? Conventional hearing aids don’t solve the problem because they can’t improve TV sound. They just let people hear bad TV sound more clearly. Home theater sound systems are much better than the speakers built into TVs. But they are often complicated and expensive. And simpler, more affordable sound bars often don’t employ center speakers – crucial for accurate dialogue reproduction. Plus many sound bars include boomy subwoofers which actually interfere with voice clarity.
The right solution.
The new ZVOX AccuVoice AV200 TV Speaker solves the dialogue clarity problem in an elegant way. Only 17” wide and about 2.5” high, the sleek, aluminum speaker fits anywhere. With only one connecting cord, it’s easy to hook up. And it uses virtual surround to create realistic, room-filling sound. But the magic is in ZVOX’s proprietary (patent-pending) AccuVoice technology. It mimics the function of a hearing aid by isolating voice frequencies and lifting them out of background sounds. Our advanced digital processor analyzes a soundtrack, and when it detects voices it instantly activates computer algorithms that bring voices forward. You hear crystal-clear dialogue, even at low volumes. It is almost magical.
The AccuVoice TV Speaker uses three very high quality full-range speakers in an computer-designed aluminum cabinet. Aluminum allows us to make the speaker very small but still acoustically correct – because the metal is strong and has very low resonance (that’s why it’s used in some very expensive “audiophile quality” speaker systems). The center speaker is crucial to the performance of the AccuVoice speaker, delivering super-clear voice reproduction. The center speaker also anchors the sound so that everyone in the room hears balanced, natural sound.
What critics and customers say about our AccuVoice technology:
“I have one word for the vocal reproduction: WOW.” Don Lindich, Sound Advice Syndicated Newspaper Column
“My father-in-law is hard of hearing and can’t watch a movie unless our TV is turned up all the way. He sat in the furthest seat from the TV last night and smiled. He could hear conversations thanks to the AccuVoice.” - ZVOX Customer
“I could hear a difference when Accuvoice was activated, but I wondered if it would be the same for Mom, who has a lot more difficulty hearing words correctly. The look on her face showed it worked. I could tell she was impressed, and she said she could hear a clear difference.” Mellisa Jones, Arkansas Democrat Gazzete
“Voice clarity really enhanced for these two baby boomers! We can FINALLY understand what the characters are saying again!” – ZVOX Customer
The perfect gift for mom and dad – or grandma and grandpa.
Want to earn brownie points with your folks or grandparents? Get the an AccuVoice TV Speaker. No more battles over how loud the TV should be. They should be able to hear dialogue clearly even at low volumes. It’s the perfect gift for someone over 50.
Features and specifications.
• Aluminum cabinet — 17" w x 2.9" h x 3.1" d
• Dual inputs (toslink optical digital and 3.5mm analog/toslink) so you can connect it to your TV and one other audio source.
• AccuVoice dialog clarity feature uses hearing aid technology for clear voices.
• PhaseCue® virtual surround delivers room-filling 3D sound from one cabinet.
• Output leveling system tames loud commercials.
• Can work with virtually any infrared remote control.
• Three full-range speakers will fill a room with realistic sound.
• Includes multi-function remote control.
• Hangers on back panel allow for wall mounting.
Order now and save.
For pre-production Kickstarter supporters, we are offering several levels of discount offers on the AccuVoice AV200 TV Speaker. If you have trouble understanding voices on TV, why wait?
For more information visit our web site.
About ZVOX Audio
ZVOX was founded in 2003 by long-time audio industry veterans who recognized the need for audio systems that combined great sound with elegant simplicity. ZVOX was recognized by CNET as the company that “perfected the sound bar” – a product category we helped pioneer. ZVOX also invented the first sound base style home theater sound system. ZVOX products are sold at Magnolia Home Theater stores (within select Best Buy locations), Amazon.com, Crutchfield, hundreds of regional audio-video stores and through the zvoxaudio.com web site.
CEO Tom Hannaher was Director of Marketing at the company that became Best Buy in the early 1970s. He went on to work with industry legend Henry Kloss at Advent Corporation and Cambridge SoundWorks, where he was Senior Vice President in charge of product development.
President Sandy Bloomberg was the founder of the Tweeter Home Entertainment Group and founder of the Pro Group buying group. He is a member of the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame..
COO George Samuels was National Sales Manager at EPI Loudspeakers and worked at Ohm Acoustics in the 1970s, and then founded Genesis Speakers in 1975. He also worked at Cambridge SoundWorks.
VP of Product Development Jarl Salmela started his career at ADS and the moved on to MB Quart. From there he went to Cambridge SoundWorks where he worked with Henry Kloss in developing a revolutionary line of computer audio systems.
Risks and challenges
We expect to fulfill all Kickstarter orders by fall of 2016. However, it's possible that our production schedule may shift based on the number of orders we receive.
ZVOX manufactures tens of thousands of audio systems every year. Our design and production staff are experts with many years of experience in our industry. While we cannot confirm final production dates until our campaign ends, we have infrastructure and experience to produce and deliver the AccuVoice TV Speaker, built to the highest standards, and in a timely manner.
- (35 days)