Zvox AV50 wireless noise-cancelling headphone review: There’s a lot to like about this headphone

Zvox, best known for soundbars and soundbases, has expanded its product lineup to include Bluetooth headphones with active noise cancellation (ANC) and even hearing aids. So, I decided to check out the AV50 headphones, which are touted as the world’s first headphone designed for users aged 55 and older.

The feature aimed specifically at that demographic is much more subtle than I expected, but the overall sound is excellent in any case.

Features

The AV50 is relatively small and lightweight at only 8.1 ounces, and it can be folded into a small hard-shell case for travelling. Single dynamic drivers utilize neodymium magnets and achieve a specified frequency range from 15Hz to 23kHz (±4dB).

zvox av50 lifestyle1 Zvox Audio

The AccuVoice feature is designed for older folks who might have trouble with vocal intelligibility.

Bluetooth 4.1 provides wireless connectivity using the aptX, AAC, and SBC codecs as well as A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, and HSP profiles. It also comes with a 3.5mm cable for a wired connection.

Active noise cancellation (ANC) generates sound that is 180 degrees out of phase with ambient sound picked up by two onboard microphones, mixing both signals to reduce the level of the ambient sound by means of phase-inverted cancellation. Unlike other ANC headphones, the AV50 must be fully powered on to activate its noise cancellation. I prefer having the option to engage ANC without powering Bluetooth to enjoy some peace and quiet without audio while drawing less power from the battery. To extend the battery life, you can listen to audio without ANC.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best headphones, where you’ll find reviews of competing products, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping.

The feature aimed specifically at older users is called AccuVoice, which works in conjunction with ANC. It purports to enhance voices while reducing unwanted noise, so you understand dialog better without having to turn up the volume. Specifically, it gently raises the level and compresses the dynamics of frequencies from 500- to 3,000Hz. This is the frequency range of speech consonants, which are critical for intelligibility. Unfortunately, you can’t engage ANC without AccuVoice; I wish that was an option.

zvox av50 case Zvox Audio

The AV50 folds up to sit in a case that’s small enough to fit in just about any carry-on bag.

Like virtually all Bluetooth headphones, the AV50 can be used with a mobile phone to answer calls and speak with callers using an onboard microphone in the right earcup. That mic is independent from the two microphones used by the ANC system.

The rechargeable battery lasts up to 12 hours with Bluetooth and ANC engaged; if you turn off ANC, the battery life extends up to 18 hours. With a wired connection and ANC, the battery lasts up to 15 hours, but without ANC, a wired connection does not drain the battery at all. It takes about two hours to recharge a fully depleted battery.