At first glance, the Z-base 525 looks like your average speaker which can be placed directly under your TV and double as a small podium. If you take a closer look, you will see that this is not an average soundbar. At just $350 to $399, this system can offer you the sound you would normally get from a 5.1 channel system and it also comes with a few sound enhancing features. You shouldn’t expect excellent surround sound performance, but the system is certainly far better than the built in speakers of your TV.
Like the Z-base 575, this system was not created for its design. It is a simple black rectangular box which can be placed under most TV sets. The front panel is covered by a black metal grille which is as simple as the rest of the soundbar. If you are tired of large audio systems which only draw attention to themselves, you should take a look at the Z-base 525. It will blend perfectly under your TV and it will do the job it’s supposed to: offer you high quality sound without any extra wires and without taking too much space.
You need to start measuring your TV if you plan on buying the Z-base 525 and use it as a stand. Keep in mind that the maximum weight which can be placed on top of this soundbar is 90 pounds and that your TV set will be lifted 3.5 inches after you add this unit under it. The bottom side of your TV shouldn’t be more than 23 inches wide and 11 inches deep. A wall mounted TV usually looks impressive in any room, but if you decide to get the Z-base 525, you won’t be able to place it on your wall like you would with other soundbar models. If your TV set is already wall mounted, you have to find some type of shelf for the Z-base 525.
A remote control is included in the package and it is as simple as the rest of the system. There are a total of 11 buttons, but the layout is not ideal. You will have to use it for a while until you memorize each button because it doesn’t have a backlight.
You can adjust the audio levels, but you won’t be able to see what you are doing because the Z-base 525 doesn’t have a display. This means that the only indicator that the remote control is actually working is a flashing light. If this light stops flashing, you have reached the maximum or minimum volume level. A blue light will appear when the soundbar is turned on and a green light will appear when the system is preparing to go into idle mode.
Setting up the Z-base 525
This soundbar is 24 inches wide and 12.5 inches deep, which makes it perfect for flat screen TVs which are not bigger than 32 inches. If you own a large plasma screen, it will probably weigh more than the maximum 90 pounds supported by the Z-base 525 and you won’t be able to use it as a stand. Suction cups are located on the button of the soundbar, which is the perfect addition for extra stability. At 60 watts of power, even if you turn the volume up to maximum, you don’t have to worry about vibrations.
Only two analog stereo RCA inputs are present on the back of the soundbar, but this might be enough for most people. You will receive a 6 foot RCA cable in the package which means that you just have to connect a couple a wires and you can start using this soundbar.
The soundstage offered b the Z-base 525 will get large enough for medium sized room, especially after you turn up the Phase Cue control. You won’t notice an unbelievable surround sound effect, but you will get a nice illusion of surround. If you are not used to the quality offered by 5.1 channel systems, you will certainly be impressed.
One of the problems with this soundbar appears when trying to understand the dialog. If you want a wider soundstage, you will have to increase the Phase Cue. After you do this, the dialog will become harder to hear, especially in action movies.
Many people expect problems from the lack of a subwoofer, but this is not the case here. The Z-base 525 works great with bass sounds and adding a subwoofer is only recommended if you have a very large room. You can always tweak the treble and subwoofer levels until you find the perfect balance.
Pros and Cons
The Z-base 525 is an attractive system mainly because it can be personalized to fit your needs. You can always improve the sound quality by adjusting the treble and bass and you will like the result especially if you place the system in a small or medium sized room.
If you have a larger room, this system is not necessarily the one for you. You will have to crank up the volume when watching movies and the only way to really enjoy the experience is by adding a subwoofer or by spending some extra money and buying the Z-base 575.
The Z-base 525 is a soundbar which can be used in small and medium sized rooms without adding an optional subwoofer. The best experience comes from listening music, but watching movies is also great since the system offers a wide soundstage. The surround sound capabilities of this soundbar won’t amaze you, but you will certainly like the sound quality offered by the Z-base 525.