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I Review Pro Audio Tech and Here Are My Thoughts On Vizio Soundbars

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I Review Pro Audio Tech and Here Are My Thoughts On Vizio Soundbars

Key Points

  • Vizio soundbars offer a wide variety of options, including stereo, Atmos, and surround configurations.
  • They are competitively priced compared to other brands like LG and Samsung.
  • Vizio soundbars have a wide degree of functionality, support various audio codecs, and are compatible with voice assistants like Amazon Alexa.
  • They provide fair to great sound quality for watching TV and movies, but may not be the best choice for music.
  • Some drawbacks of Vizio soundbars include weak subwoofers, total harmonic distortion at high volumes, lack of a true surround sound experience, and tone indicators for sound changes.

So, how are Vizio soundbars? I’ve spent a long time around audio tech, with nearly 20 years of experience dealing with high-end and professional studio equipment. As such, I get picky when it comes to stuff I listen to at home. When you’re listening to some of the best equipment money can buy, it is just unavoidable.

Today’s guide will be covering Vizio’s selection of soundbars from my own viewpoint. I work and review professional audio equipment, as well as doing side work as a mixing and mastering engineer for musical artists. Now, before we get started, do keep in mind all opinions are my own. You might not agree with them, and that’s absolutely fine.

What Are Vizio Soundbars?

There isn’t a single monolithic soundbar to rule them all when looking at Vizio soundbars. You’ll find options for just normal stereo use, Atmos, and surround. As such, it comes down to a matter of budget and desired configuration when picking out your soundbar of choice.

Available Configurations

Vizio manufactures a wide variety of soundbars fitting multiple different use cases. You’ll find standard 2-channel audio soundbars with a subwoofer. The same manufacturer also puts out Dolby Atmos soundbars with detachable speakers intended to work as satellites for your sound sources. In some regards, there truly isn’t a budget option for the Vizio line of soundbars.

However, they are priced fairly competitively, especially when viewed alongside contemporaries from LG and Samsung.

Great Things About Vizio Soundbars

Here are some of the pros of Vizio soundbars.

The Wide Degree of Functionality

vizio soundbars
You won’t have any shortage of audio codec support on Vizio’s soundbar selection.

Vizio’s soundbar selection has a fair amount of variety, as I’ve said a few times now. However, the degree of functionality afforded to them is fantastic. As the focal point of a home theater setup, I don’t have any major complaints. You aren’t going to be using these to pinpoint trouble resonances in a TV mix for example.

The support for a wide range of commonly used audio codecs is just a bonus as a whole. If you’re looking for a device that does Dolby Atmos that won’t cost as much as your TV, a Vizio soundbar is a great solution.

Affordability

Affordability is one of those under-reported categories for most audio equipment. We get so caught up in how things sound, we don’t even consider the cost-effectiveness of it all. That said, most Vizio soundbars aren’t going to make you wince when it comes time to pay.

You can readily get into a Dolby Atmos system for under $1000. Said Atmos soundbar will come with an included subwoofer and detachable speakers. You can argue against the quality of the drivers and such. However, when it comes down to it, spending $2000 or more when you’re on a budget doesn’t make sense.

Voice Assistance Compatibility

Voice assistants like Amazon Alexa aren’t for everyone. However, if you relish hands-free control, then you’re in luck. Many of the Vizio soundbars come with full support for Amazon Alexa. You can do things like control volume, inputs, and so much more when using Amazon’s voice assistant support.

I don’t know about you. For me, however, digging through menus isn’t my idea of a great time. If I can get the device to switch inputs and lower the volume with two simple commands, I’ll do it in a heartbeat.

Fair to Great Sound Quality

Outside of studio monitors and high-dollar headphones, sound quality for consumer devices is going to be a mixed bag. On one hand, you can argue sound quality with flat frequency response isn’t a desired attribute. I’m not a huge fan of overhyped frequencies, but I digress.

For watching TV and movies, the Fletcher Munson curve is still widely applicable. You won’t find any complaints from me on the way these soundbars approach mids and trebles. I’ve got more thoughts on bass response, but we’ll get to that later on. Simply put, they sound great for most TV shows and movies you’ll watch.

For music, I’d choose something else. However, you don’t have to be nearly as picky as I am about these things.

Things I Don’t Like About Vizio Soundbars

We all knew this was coming. I knew this was coming before I even opened the word processor to type it up. I’m a picky guy when it comes to audio quality, and sound equipment in general. So most of this is going to be all sound-related.

Weak Subwoofers

vizio soundbars
The Vizio subwoofers aren’t worth writing home about.

I’m not of the school of thought that you need a sub for most audio needs. It certainly has its place, especially in Atmos and surround mixes. You want that low rumble and center channel for bass response. Now, most of the standalone soundbars without subs have a middling bass response. We’re talking like 90Hz and higher.

The subs do extend that down past audible levels for most folks. However, the actual power of these units leaves something to be desired. If you’re investing in Vizio soundbars, I’d look into a dedicated powered sub with more power.

Total Harmonic Distortion

This is the real elephant in the room. When it comes to overall sound quality, these are great for the money. However, when you push the volume, total harmonic distortion starts appearing. Let’s be perfectly clear, I loathe distortion on audio. Now, I make exceptions for guitar and basses, because who doesn’t love a distorted guitar?

Regarding home audio, you should be able to push the volume. I don’t know if this comes down to an inherent flaw in the AD/DA conversion process from Vizio. But this is almost a dealbreaker for me. It should be fine if you’re in a smaller space. For larger rooms, I would look for other soundbars.

Not a True Surround Experience

You can argue all day about spatialization. The simple fact is that a virtual solution isn’t a match for the real deal. I’ve used real surround sound systems, it is a revelatory experience. When it comes to virtual spatial audio, I’m more lukewarm.

These can sound fine and certainly get immersive with satellite speakers. As a true replacement, I don’t see it. That isn’t a knock against Vizio soundbars as a whole, but something that I personally have trouble getting past.

The Tone Indicators for Sound Changes

In all honesty, this is probably my biggest gripe. You don’t have visual feedback with most Vizio soundbars. You’ll get color indicators for changing inputs on the unit itself, which is a great solution. However, when you’re changing settings like the EQ a tone emits. You get a high-pitched tone when enabling an option, and a low-pitched one when disabling it.

Why is this case? I don’t know, you’ll have to ask Vizio’s engineering department. As it stands, this is almost enough for me to steer well clear of these soundbars. I don’t want to hear other tones when watching a movie. I just want to hear the audio mix for the intended media.

Which Vizio Soundbars Should You Buy?

Here are three of my favorite Vizio soundbars you should consider.

Vizio M512E-K6

My Top Pick
VIZIO M-Series Elevate 5.1.2 Immersive Sound Bar
$599.00
  • 103dB powered by 13 high-performance drivers
  • Supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X
  • Wireless subwoofer
  • Adaptive height speakers
  • Compatible with Alexa
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/26/2024 08:56 am GMT

The M512E-K6 soundbar is an absolute monster when it comes to audio power. You’ve got thirteen drivers in this soundbar, along with detachable speakers and a subwoofer. The subwoofer leaves something to be desired, but the full-range speakers sound great. If you’re looking for the best soundbar Vizio manufactures, this would be my first pick.

Vizio V51x-J6

Best for Cinematic Experience
VIZIO V-Series 5.1 Sound Bar
$196.00
  • Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa voice control enabled
  • App control available
  • Dolby Audio version 5.1 for 4k HDR content at its best
  • 98dB sound levels and a frequency range of 50Hz to 20kHz
  • Includes remote control
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/26/2024 08:56 am GMT

Do you want immersive sound on a budget? The V51x-J6 has you covered. This one isn’t nearly as slick as the M512E-K6, but that’s alright. When you consider the price, it doesn’t as a surprise. Still, you’re getting a subwoofer and a pair of satellite speakers.

It lacks Dolby Atmos compatibility, but that’s fine for most users. You’re getting virtual surround sound for well under $250 at retail.

Vizio V20x-J8

Great Budget Soundbar
VIZIO V-Series 2.0 Compact Home Theater Soundbar
$72.99
  • Supports DTS Virtual:X
  • Optimized for 4K HDR content with Dolby Audio
  • 2 full-range speakers
  • Frequency response 70Hz–20kHz
  • 95dB loud with little distortion or compression
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/26/2024 09:01 am GMT

The V20x-J8 is a compact little soundbar. Despite its overall size, it certainly isn’t lacking in power. The bass doesn’t go as low as I would like personally. With a frequency response measuring from 70Hz to 20kHz, it likely goes down lower than your TV’s speakers.

This one also lacks Dolby Atmos compatibility. However, you can routinely find this for under $100 if you shop around. As a budget soundbar, it readily beats store-brand options like the Onn soundbars sold by Walmart.

Closing Thoughts

Are Vizio soundbars any good? For their price point, I think they’re difficult to top. You could easily get better sound from any number of solutions, but you’ll be paying handsomely for it. At the end of the day, I think Vizio soundbars reach a good midpoint between functionality and affordability. I certainly wouldn’t tout them as the best in their class.

However, if you’re looking for something that does its job to an acceptable degree without breaking the bank, it is a fine choice.

  1. VIZIO M-Series Elevate 5.1.2 Immersive Sound Bar
    $599.00
    • 103dB powered by 13 high-performance drivers
    • Supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X
    • Wireless subwoofer
    • Adaptive height speakers
    • Compatible with Alexa
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/26/2024 08:56 am GMT
  2. VIZIO V-Series 5.1 Sound Bar
    $196.00
    • Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa voice control enabled
    • App control available
    • Dolby Audio version 5.1 for 4k HDR content at its best
    • 98dB sound levels and a frequency range of 50Hz to 20kHz
    • Includes remote control
    Buy Now on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/26/2024 08:56 am GMT
  3. VIZIO V-Series 2.0 Compact Home Theater Soundbar
    $72.99
    • Supports DTS Virtual:X
    • Optimized for 4K HDR content with Dolby Audio
    • 2 full-range speakers
    • Frequency response 70Hz–20kHz
    • 95dB loud with little distortion or compression
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/26/2024 09:01 am GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you use soundbars at home?

I do not, I use studio-grade speakers for both watching TV and working on audio.

Are Vizio soundbars a good buy?

For their price and functionality, I certainly think so.

Could use use a Vizio soundbar on a PC?

If your PC does audio passthrough via the GPU, then you should be fine.

What makes for good bass response?

You want to feel the sub-frequencies and hear the mid-bass frequencies. When you chop it off at 90Hz you’re losing the feel and most of the responsive of the mid-bass.

Are surround soundbars really surround?

If it is using virtual tech for spatial audio, it isn’t true surround.

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