ZVOX AV30 Wireless Headphone Review
The new ZVOX AV30 wireless headphones are $99 in-ear headphones. They promise hybrid active noise canceling, Accuvoice dialogue enhancing, and decent battery life in a reasonably small package. Oh, and throw in wireless charging on top of it. Are these worth your hard-earned cash? Let’s discuss.
ZVOX AV30 Wireless Headphones Unboxing
The ZVOX AV30 wireless headphones come shipped in a simple black cardboard box. Inside is a plastic container that holds the headphones, their charging case, and four extra ear tips. Underneath is the USB charging cable (no brick) and the instructions.
I enjoy simplicity. I don’t need much packaging since I throw it all away afterward. The only thing I would have liked to see is a carrying case or bag for the accessories. I sense that the extra ear tips will get lost in my junk drawer, never to be seen again.
ZVOX AV30 Aesthetics
So I can’t help but see the similarities between the ZVOX AV30 wireless headphones and AirPod Pros. They share a similar shape and form factor for both the headphones and the case. That said, I like the design. The ZVOX AV30 wireless headphones are on the larger side, but I prefer that as they are easy to get in and out of your ears. On the top are the microphones for noise canceling, and the bottom has the charging connections and vocal mics. All functions get tapped, so there are no other external controls.
The case is also on the larger side and has a weird shape that makes it hard to hold in your hand. My first complaint is handling the case and headphones. The case top opens lengthwise, so it always gets in my way as I try and get the headphones out. Because it only has a single hinge, I fear that I might snap it if I am too rough. On the bottom is a charging LED, USB C port, and a reset button. The case has enough battery power to charge the headphones four times before the case will need a charge.
Using the ZVOX AV30s
The setup is simple. Charge the headphones via USB C or wireless charging pad. That takes less than an hour. Open the case, and the headphones will automatically enter pairing mode. Find the Bluetooth connection on your phone and look for the ZVOX AV30s, and hit connect. The next time you open the case in the presence of your phone, the AV30s will pair automatically. I was also able to pair them quickly with my Onkyo AV receiver.
There are only a few controls to learn on the ZVOX AV30 wireless headphones. A double-tap on either headphone will play/pause your media, or it will answer/disconnect your phone calls. A triple-tap will cycle through the listening modes. The default mode is the “Noise Cancelling AccuVoice Dialogue Boost.” The second mode is “External Sounds,” which amplifies all the sounds around you. The last mode is “Normal,” which turns off all the fancy features and makes the AV30s plain ole earbuds.
Luckily there is a voiceover to tell you what mode you are in, but you quickly get accustomed to the sound modes and what they sound like. But I still like the voiceover. You do have to learn how to tap the earphones. The instructions recommend a two or three-fingered tap, and I found this was the most reliable way to get the ZVOX AV30 wireless headphones to respond consistently.
In general, I use my headphones for about 90% podcasts and 10% music. Of course, I put the ZVOX AV30s through their paces. ZVOX claims a frequency range of 15hz to 23khz, but these headphones are decidedly not bass monsters. I ran a sweep and did get some sound at 20hz, but it was muddy. At 30hz it firmed up substantially and was very clear. This performance is acceptable for the price point, and the ZVOX AV30 wireless headphones delivered clear and accurate bass with all my songs.
The complaint I have with many headphones is that they are not exciting for music. However, these $99 ZVOX AV30 wireless headphones made me a believer. As I said earlier, they are not bass monsters, but they are clear and have a great dynamic range. I wouldn’t classify them as bright by any means. If anything, they are more laidback or neutral.
I will not break down all my listening choices, but I have listened to nearly every genre, and I used them with my Xbox to play some games. After a couple of weeks of use, here are my thoughts.
Music is the winner here. I found the Zvox AV30 wireless headphones to be clear and dynamic. No, they won’t rival more expensive headphones or most stereo setups. But for doing yard work and going to the gym, they sound great. Plus, with active noise canceling, I am protecting my ears from my lawnmower, and I don’t have to hear the awful gym music playing.
I did find that with some similarly priced headphones, I got a lot of fatigue from the bright presentation. This fatigue meant that I would pull the headphones out after 30 mins or so to take a break. Not so with the ZVOX AV30s. I listened to them for the entire detailing of my vehicle – a few hours. And because I could pause my music and switch to External Sounds mode, I never had to pull them out of my ears to speak to anyone.
For podcasts, there is not much to say. Podcasts (like AV Rant) are pretty simple in terms of dynamics. I had zero issues with the ZVOX AV30 wireless headphones. They sounded clear and non-fatiguing.
Phone calls were a mixed bag for me. I used the ZVOX AV30 wireless headphones on both voice calls and Zoom / Teams calls at work. I usually call my mom when I am out for a walk at noon, and any wind plays havoc with the headphones.
In active-canceling mode, they are unusable. As soon as the wind picks up, it cancels out my voice and hers. The AV30 manual suggests putting the headphones in Normal mode for outdoor use. While that helped a bit, it was still not the most fantastic experience.
Zoom and Teams had good sound, but the other participants said I sounded tinny and muffled. I used ZVOX AV30 wireless headphones for my sound, but I had to revert to my desktop mic for my voice.
Games were also a bit of a mixed bag for me. The headphones sounded great. I heard many details that I hadn’t noticed with my home theater or my cheap gaming headset. Unfortunately, as soon as I tried to use the ZVOX AV30 wireless headphones for voice chat, they became messy and tough to use. In single-player games, they were fine, but I didn’t like them at all for multi-player.
The only thing I would like to see added to the ZVOX AV30 wireless headphones is a skip feature for music. I use the inline mic and controls on my wired headphones to skip songs, and I had to pull my phone out of my pocket or use my watch to skip songs.
At $99, the ZVOX AV30 wireless headphones are a great deal. They are comfortable enough to wear for a long time, and they don’t fatigue my hearing. Plus, with the three listening modes, I can adapt them to my listening needs on the fly. The mic is the downside on these. While it works, it is not as clear as I would have liked, but I didn’t think a pair of $99 headphones would be stellar in every aspect.
I think that if you are looking for a pair of no-nonsense headphones that have good battery life and don’t break the bank, the ZVOX AV30 wireless headphones are worth a try!