October 2021 update: the ZVOX VB25 has disappeared without a trace from the ZVOX website. I asked the company, and they informed me it won’t be coming back. For your convenience, I’m leaving the review online, but if you’re looking to buy a comparable product, I have the following recommendations:
- The Neosonic B10 – nearly the same product, with some differences
- The ZVOX VB20 – its predecessor, which is still holding up well
- The Otofonix Encore – if you’re looking for an affordable hearing aid with a telecoil option
I was really excited to find out about the ZVOX VB25. You don’t know this, but the ZVOX VB20 is the most popular hearing amplifier on this website. I don’t just love it, but many readers do, too. It’s easy to see why: American-made, dual microphones, great sound, and Bluetooth functionality – all great options on a hearing amplifier that doesn’t even cost $400 per pair.
Now, there were some things that the ZVOX VB20 didn’t have, that the ZVOX VB25 does bring to the table: these new amplifiers are rechargeable. They also come as a pair, in a case that doubles as a dehumidifier case, and the VB25 offers a telecoil function. All this great news comes at a cost, however. The ZVOX VB25 will not replace its predecessor on the list of best Bluetooth hearing amplifiers – the Bluetooth is gone.
What does all this mean for fans of the VB20? Is the ZVOX VB25 worth the money? Is it as exciting as the older model? You’ll find out in this review for the ZVOX VB25, where we discuss the main features in more detail, go over the usual information and give you some potential downsides and alternative models.
If you prefer to skip the reading and go straight to the conclusion, I have included the usual 30-second visual review at the bottom of this post.
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Key features of the ZVOX VB25
If you’ve read the introduction, I don’t have a lot of news for you here. If you’re familiar with the VB20, this newer model has a number of upgrades: the ZVOX VB25 is rechargeable, has a telecoil function, and dual microphones. This last feature was present in the older model, too, but a very neat extra. It adds a lot to the depth of the sound.
You charge the ZVOX VB25 with a charging case, which in turn is charged with a USB cord. Charging the case (comparable to a small pack of cigarettes) gives you three charges of the hearing amplifiers. In short, you don’t need the cord every time, and you can charge the devices on the go by storing them in the charging case. This case doubles as a dehumidifying case, which extends the lifetime of your hearing amplifiers and keeps you from carrying around two cases.
Additionally, the ZVOX VB25 offers a telecoil. This function helps you connect to places that offer a telecoil service, such as hotels, theaters, churches, and even some drive-thrus. I believe that makes this the cheapest model with such a telecoil function.
Also read: what is a telecoil?
As a final ‘feature’ (not really a feature), ZVOX is an American company using American and German parts, which are assembled in the US. If you prefer buying American, ZVOX is your best choice.
Who is this hearing amplifier for?
With a peak gain of 29 dB, the ZVOX isn’t the most powerful in its class. Technological advances in the last few years have decreased the need for a higher dB count, but the VB25 is clearly intended for mild to moderate hearing loss – the type of ‘beginning’ hearing loss where you’re starting to have trouble hearing the TV, kids’ voices, and the difference between some sounds in speech.
How well does the ZVOX VB25 work?
Just like its predecessor, the VB20, the ZVOX VB25 works like a charm. The ZVOX company only started to develop hearing amplifiers after being in business for several years – their core business consists of sound bars that clarify speech on your TV. As you can imagine, this expertise is a good thing. The sound quality in the VB 25 hearing amplifiers is up to the highest standards, further aided by the dual microphone technology.
The portable charging case is a very neat feature. You charge the case separately with a USB cord (included in the box), and when the battery in the case is fully charged, putting your amplifiers in the case will in turn charge those batteries up to three times (while dehumidifying your devices). This way, you can take a fully charged case over the weekend without worrying about a charging cord.
As far as the technical details, the ZVOX VB25 is fully up to industry standards. You’ve got four different listening modes: normal room, noisy room (directional), directional with automobile noise suppression, and telecoil. Especially the automobile noise suppression stands out. If you travel a lot, the ZVOX VB25 doesn’t just take worries about charging away, it also keeps traveling noise to a minimum.
What’s not to like about the ZVOX VB25?
I’m used to the way the charging case works, so I wouldn’t have a problem, but it does take some getting used to. Luckily, customer support is there to help you, but most other rechargeable hearing amplifiers don’t have the learning curve that the ZVOX does. It’s definitely not difficult to get used to the charging case, but if you’re buying these for someone who has trouble learning new routines, perhaps an ordinary and stationary charging station is easier. Also, I’ll be honest, I’d lose that case within a month (but that’s something not to like about myself and says nothing about ZVOX).
Additionally, I missed seeing the Bluetooth functionality. The ZVOX VB20 was one of the first hearing amplifiers with Bluetooth, and although the technology needed an upgrade, doing away with it entirely felt like a missed opportunity.
Hearing amplifiers that are good alternatives
Let me be clear: the ZVOX VB25 does a lot to set itself apart from other hearing amplifiers. I’m sure we’ll see this type of charging case a lot more in future models, but the ZVOX was first. Since then, the Neosonic B10 has offered an alternative with a similar travel case – you can read a comparison between the Neosonic and ZVOX here.
To improve on the overall quality, you’ll need the very best: the Otofonix Helix or Neosonic MX (I compare the two here). These two are more or less the same, but the Neosonic lacks a telecoil feature. These two models also are more powerful than the ZVOX, so they’re the better alternative if you’re past the first stages of hearing loss.
Lastly, if you like the dual microphones, are interested in the Bluetooth function and the fact that ZVOX is an American company, you could take a look at the ZVOX VB20. They’re getting old, but they’re still standing strong.
Should you buy the ZVOX VB25?
Yes, you should. Just like the extremely popular ZVOX VB20, the VB25 has a lot of benefits: it offers a mobile recharging case, telecoil, and a premium sound quality. It’s also the prime choice if buying American hearing amplifiers is important to you. Additionally, it’s the most affordable hearing aid with telecoil function I know of. The combination of features and the ‘automobile noise reduction’ listening program make the ZVOX VB25 the ultimate hearing amplifier for travelers.
At the same time, the ZVOX VB25 isn’t for everyone. It’s not very powerful, it has a bit of a learning curve, and if you like adjusting your amplifier from your phone, that option has disappeared with this latest model.