on December 31, 2013
ATTENTION PEOPLE WHO CAN'T FIGURE OUT HOW TO PREVENT THE SOUND BAR FROM GOING SILENT INBETWEEN CHANNEL CHANGING/inbetween cutscenes in a game:::
I have seen several people mention that they dislike how the sound bar automatically seems to turn off the moment it stops receiving any audio signal, even if it's very brief. I have even read how some customers ended up returning the product because they couldn't figure out how to turn off this feature. Reading the manual I found the solution where I least expected it. You can turn off this automatic default feature by turning off the VZtv Rmt setting. For some reason, they combined the automatic sound bar turn off with the VIZIO TV remote setting. Anyways, once you turn it off the soundbar no longer automatically turns off when changing channels or in-between custcenes while playing a game.
As for the rest of the product: It's great as long as you plug it in correctly. If you do not see the DOLBY DIGITAL /DTS light when you turn on your sound bar and TV, then it's because your tv is not outputting true 5.1 sound. Yes, your sound bar will automatically create a faux 5.1 surround, but for the real 5.1 quality you will have to connect your soundbar directly to whatever you are using to stream or play movies and not the TV.
Something else I haven't seen other users mention is how shows you may be watching via a streaming service, such as Netflix and Crunchyroll, will not output true 5.1 even though all the settings are set up correctly and the soundbar is lit up with the DOLBY/DTS light. It seems to be because the show you are trying to stream isn't calibrated to output at true 5.1 for whatever reason and you end up not having any output in the satellite speakers. To get around this I take advantage of the previously mentioned faux 5.1 surround that you hear when you connect your soundbar directly to the tv.
This is how my setup works so that I choose between true 5.1 and the faux 5.1 depending on what I'm watching:
I have both my PC and my PS4 connected to my TV.
I have my Sound Bar connected via optical cable to my PS4 for true 5.1, which I use for playing games, movies, and streaming services.
Additionally I have component cables connecting my sound bar to my TV for when something I am streaming on my PS4 isn't outputting true 5.1 and I want to switch to the faux 5.1, or for when I am using my TV to watch content I downloaded on my PC. You will have to change some computer settings to have your PC send audio signal to your TV for the component cables to pickup and send to the Soundbar.
Just use the remote control to switch which input you want to use for sound for what you watching (Optical Cable for true 5.1, Aux for faux 5.1).
You'll want to pump up most of the sound settings from 7 to like 9s and 11s though to get the best sound output.
NOTE:::: When I connected my Sound Bar directly to my PS4, I noticed the TV was no longer in sync to the sound. This was quickly resolved by locating and selecting the "GAME (standard)" viewing mode on my tv. Apparently if your TV has some special effects that it applies to what you are viewing, it may cause the picture to go out of sync with the sound. Selecting the GAME view mode on your TV automatically disables any special effects your TV may be trying to apply so that it resolves any sync issues.
Well that about covers it. I tried to discuss the technical stuff that I didn't see other users mention. It's a great buy and great value. Great product. 5stars.
on August 22, 2013
I can't add or refute praise buyers have posted for this soundbar system's audio fidelity and quality. After all, it was picked by CNET to receive the 'Best Product of CES' award at this year's Las Vegas "Consumer Electronic Show". I've waited since January to buy it, and finally, it became available locally at one of the discount box stores near me.
But, I can tell you, the unit I purchased was not ready for prime time, as several others have pointed out in their reviews. Recent reviews give me more hope. One reviewer said, "..the first unit I had would go silent when changing channels while using cable. Probably due to audio format changes between hd and regular channels but not sure. I would then have to turn the sound bar off then back on to get sound.", he said.
Folks, that was an understatement. After a pretty easy set up and using only the optical cable link from my optical output of my large flat screen Samsung to the soundbar, I immediately heard a dramatic difference in sound quality when compared with my older Vizio 2.1 system that had performed well despite it's inherent limits.
Then, using my whole system Logitech remote, I switched from a live cable program source in HDMI 1 to my Blu-Ray device. So far, so good. That is until I skipped DVD chapters or fast-forwarded the DVD. The audio dropped out and would not return unless I rotated through the various inputs to re-initialize the audio in the "optical" input on the Vizio remote. No amount of tries or even DVD changes would prevent this. Next, I tried switching to the HDMI input for the Roku streaming device, but any fast-fowarding of video of a movie in progress suffered the same audio loss, no matter if I used Amazon Prime content or Netflix.
I called Vizio customer service and the representative had me go through setup and connectivity to be sure the problem wasn't caused by me. He claimed he was unaware of any such issue, put me on hold to check his tech bulletins or reports, then came back on the line to tell me he couldn't find any reported instances of this problem. Then, in a step I hate, he proceeded to find fault with my brand of TV (as opposed to a Vizio large screen TV, which he said contains a circuit that allows consumers to change the audio phase delay and compression format. Right answer, they prefer PCM..or pulse code modulation).
Now, I'm a life-long broadcaster and electronics buff, schooled in PCM audio and much more. So, I knew he was putting me on the E-ride at Disney World. His answer, I felt, was designed to blow off a serious Vizio model defect. It was similar to experiences I'm sure we all have had with PC manufacturer tech support "experts" who when they reach the limits of their knowledge or troubleshooting, claim the problem lies with your PC software or operating system. I reminded him Samsung is the world leader in flat screen product sales, in ratios of up to 9-1 over competitors (probably wider for Vizio sales).
He had no answer for that, and he asked to again place me on hold to "check with his manager". And, "Eureka", he came back with the revelation that a firmware fix was needed and due out, but he didn't know when. He then admitted there was a defect and quoted the exact issue from "what his manager told him". He wouldn't budge on my suggestion to replace the unit as another reviewer said was done in his case. When I told him that's an offer one Amazon reviewer received as good customer service, he said they did replace some in early cases before a firmware upgrade was developed.
I said that when a customer purchases his company's products they expect it to work and if it doesn't, to not have to tie up good money for a poor experience until a solution or fix is found, which presently has no target date.
Now, his attitude went from authoritative to meek, and he was flummoxed when I asked how would I ever know when the firmware upgrade was available. Of course I knew Vizio wouldn't send me a message by taking my name. You have to check..daily, weekly or maybe until eternity.
Of course, I returned the unit back to the point of purchase and cautioned the store clerks they might see more returns.
I suspect this huge discount store chain bought this batch under an early contract for some of the first units to roll out of the factory. I am a faithful and constant Amazon customer. Amazon stock may be of a later vintage, but at the time, the discounter I purchased from had a significantly better price, including local sales tax.
Vizio, if you are monitoring customer feedback, may I suggest you add some employee training on candor, and admit upfront there are problems with firmware early versions of this model. It's the only way to become truly mainstream as this product far and way produces great sound and solves a common problem with inexpensive soundbars with wireless bass only that can't produce room-filling 5.1 sound and eliminate wires to satellite speakers from the soundbar or amp.
To potential buyers: Be sure to check out your purchase thoroughly and return it asap if you have these symptoms, or if you experience similar problems, check to see if the firmware upgrade has become available. I'm impressed enough that I'll wait to buy this model from Amazon after a decent interval in the hope I'll get a later version that has had a firmware change or upgrade. Normally, if you report any malfunction to Amazon within the specified time, you'll be treated right, but, note the Amazon disclaimer on this product, "This item is non returnable". What prompts Amazon to make this caveat? What does it know we don't, or have they had to eat the return costs too many times for defective units?
And congratulations to those who made the choice and got a defect-free unit. I'll upgrade my rating level after I purchase a newer model version.
UPDATE: 9/7/2013: Vizio has finally acknowledged and reacted to complaints by adding a firmware update to address this problem. Here is an excerpt from the Vizio website: "Firmware update version 1017 for the VIZIO S4251w-B4 Sound Bar. Download and follow the instructions below to update your S4251w-B4. This update addresses audio dropout on some units when changing channels using your Cable or Satellite Set Top Box. If you do not experience this issue, it is not necessary to update your sound bar."
Nonetheless, I'll upgrade my rating by one-star but not amend my overall description of the problem in the interest of alerting buyers who purchase remaining stock with this problem. I am encouraged now to the point I will repurchase the unit. It is great sound for the money.
I'm updating my rating one level to 4-stars now that I have repurchased this model. So far, it is glitch free but I have the Vizio website download file for the firmware fix on a USB thumbdrive in case it's needed. Can't rate it perfect because the buyer shouldn't experience this with a new product and then have to arm-wrestle the U.S. customer service rep until he finally admits they knew of the glitch all along and there will be a fix at an as-yet undetermined date -- despite the fact, you now have their unusable product and a debit on your credit card. Until confronted, he was perfectly satisfied to let me end the conversation with his apology that I had a bad experience and to send it for repairs under warranty. Show more respect for your customers, Vizio.
Update: 2/11/2014 - Be sure to visit the Vizio website and download and install the latest firmware upgrade. Should fix problems with earlier versions of this model if switching between peripheral inputs such as DVD, SmartTV sources (Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc) and DVD players and main TV or HDMI source for your cable set-top box and DVR AND the soundbar can't find audio. From Vizio support site: "Firmware update version 1017 for the VIZIO S4251w-B4 Sound Bar. Download and follow the instructions below to update your S4251w-B4. This update addresses audio dropout on some units when changing channels using your Cable or Satellite Set Top Box. If you do not experience this issue, it is not necessary to update your sound bar."
on July 11, 2013
If you'd asked me a couple years ago which 5.1 sound system to buy, my answer would have been simple: "none."
They were a big expensive pain. It seemed like my friends who had these systems would either have them only half set up (say, ditching the surround speakers) or fully set up but not used (because the input selection or the remote was too much of a pain). My previous roommate had a 5.1 "surround" system - with all five speakers under the TV. We rarely used it because we had to change 3 settings in 3 different places to make it work.
Let's review the misery of yesterday's 5.1 systems, shall we?
1) You needed to place and wire six speakers: left, center, right, left surround, right surround, plus a bass module. That's a lot of wires, speaker stands, and connections.
2) To connect the left and right surround speakers, you needed to run wires across your seating area. That's pretty ugly unless you go through the effort to make conduits or buy a special rug.
3) You needed to purchase a separate receiver to power those speakers - and connect it too.
4) You paid for all that - an absolute minimum of $400, with nicer gear easily double that.
5) You needed to manage additional remotes and settings. Good luck if you ever asked a friend to change the volume.
Well, it's almost as though Vizio started with this list, and then eliminated these problems one by one when making this 5.1 soundbar. The soundbar itself combines Left, Center and Right channels into one thin module that will fit in front of your TV, assuming you use a TV stand with at least two inches of space there. There are no speaker stands or speaker wires, and no separate receiver - the amplifier is built in! The only wires are the ones you absolutely need: sound input (an optical cable in most cases) and power.
But what about the bass module and surround speakers? This is where the Vizio really shines. Low frequency sounds like those from the bass module cannot be well localized by the human auditory system. Simply put, you can place the bass module anywhere in the room, and it will sound nearly the same to a human. So why not place it behind your seating area where it can also connect to the surround speakers? Tada! You plug the bass module into a power outlet behind your seating area and the surround speakers into the bass module. No wires run across your living room. The audio signal is sent wirelessly, with pairing automatically set up when you plug in the bass module. Just try to keep the bass module within 60 feet.
But what about the remotes and connections? Again this product is one step ahead. Through an easy setup process, you can program the soundbar to respond to the volume commands from your TV remote. No need to dig up the sound bar remote. Now, even your drunk football buddy can change the volume. But what about turning the sound bar on and off? You must need the sound bar remote for that right? Nope. It also has a power saving feature, so it turns itself off automatically. To turn it back on, just turn up the volume on your TV remote. Genius: these three tweaks mean you don't even need the sound bar's own remote after day one. Something lots of other reviewers have noted (which I somehow took for granted) was that the remote includes a small LCD display to help you navigate options without commandeering your TV's UI or cluttering the appearance of the soundbar itself. Nicely done; other UI designers would do well to copy this.
A point for the fellow TV audio nerds out there: according to various internet sources, "most" televisions downmix the 5.1 audio signals they receive to stereo at their outputs, meaning that if you connect the optical audio output from the TV to a sound system, your sound system only gets two channels, even if the TV received 5.1 input. To work around the curse of those TVs, you need to plug the cable box / TiVo, Wii AND Blu-Ray player directly into your sound system, possibly using a switcher, which is a pain! However, there's good news here for Vizio TV owners like me: Vizio is one of the brands of TVs that outputs true 5.1 audio from its optical output. (Or at least it does on my VF550M which is a few years old.) I even borrowed a bitstream analyzer from a coworker and verified it. But you don't have to go that far to check on yours: the soundbar lights up with a "Dolby Digital" light for about two seconds when it detects a Dolby Digital bitstream, which is generally 5.1. Pretty cool.
Even if you don't give 5.1 input to this system, it can create 5.1 for you through a built-in upmixer provided by audio tech company DTS. Just give it stereo and the upmixer takes care of the rest. It's not as good as real 5.1 but it makes pretty good use of all the speakers. I enjoyed this feature when playing my iPod music on the system using its Bluetooth option. Which reminds me: this system has a Bluetooth option. It makes a damn loud party sound system, which Vizio claims outputs 102 dB SPL. I verified that it will indeed put out sound at or above what psychoacousticians call the "threshold of pain."
A few nits. First, the soundbar isn't quite as wide as I'd like: the left, center and right channels in it are all too close to each other. I use my sound bar with a 55 inch HDTV that I sit about 8 feet from. Unless I sit closer, audio from the sound bar generally fails to sound well "spread out." I kind of wish the sound bar would telescope so I could spread the left and right speakers wider! Second, when using Bluetooth the sound quality can be poor - kind of like a pirated MP3 rather than the high quality iTunes audio I'm streaming. I work around this by using the Spotify app on my TiVo to stream music directly from the internet to the soundbar. A final issue, which might be a soundbar bug or a weakness of digital audio in general, occurs when initiating or restarting digital audio, such as on Netflix or TiVo-played cable TV. The sound will either begin after a quick loud "snap" noise, or take a couple seconds to fade in after video has begun playing. Obviously, it should be instant and flawless.
The overall package though is a total winner. As you may know it's won consumer awards including a Best of CES award from CNET. It's priced aggressively at $330 and the convenience is liberating. I recommend buying it and freeing yourself from the headaches of yesterday's 5.1.
Starting with a packaging, I didn't expect it to arrive in a single box. Considering 40" sound bar speaker, two satellite speakers, and a large subwoofer - Vizio actually managed to pack everything into a very compact box while still providing enough of styrofoam padding to protect everything inside. In my opinion it was nice to see a company putting extra effort into the ergonomics of the packaging with a ton of useful info printed on outside. As a matter of fact, I probably got most of my info about the speaker capability by reading its detailed functionality description, looking through pictures of included cables and available connections, and even studying a pictorial diagram of speaker setup - all that before even opening the box.
Out of the box, you are presented with 4 separate speakers and accessory box with plethora of cables, mounting hardware, remote control, and comprehensive manual. I was impressed with availability of Stereo RCA connection, 3.5mm Stereo connection, RCA Coax connection, Optical Toslink connection, HDMI (ARC) connection, and even USB drive (WAV format only) connection. Included accessories had a pair of RCA cables for satellite speakers, RCA to 3.5mm audio cable, Digital Coax cable, Optical Digital cable, and HDMI cable. All the cables were of relatively high quality with beefy connectors, thick wiring, and durable cable jackets. The most important point - a cable for every available connection was already included, and it's a huge plus!
To accommodate different mounting options Vizio included a number of mounting wall brackets for the sound bar and satellite speakers, wall mount screws, and even a wall mount template for sound bar. To manage excessive satellite speaker cables, they also included cable ties.
Starting with speakers you have the main Sound Bar which houses Left Front, Center, and Right Front speakers (dimensions of 40" x 3" x 3", housing three 2.75" full-range drivers), 2 rear satellite surround speakers corresponding to Left Back and Right Back channels (each one with dimensions of 3" x 5.9" x 3", housing 2.5" full-range driver), and a hefty 12.5 lbs Subwoofer speaker (dimensions of 9.7" x 10" x 9.7", housing 6" long throw driver). All speakers have matching details of wrap around black metal mesh grill, rear plastic housing, and high quality thick brushed aluminum plate sides/top (depending on a speaker type). I was actually impressed with a quality of those brushed aluminum pieces with etched Vizio logo - it adds a premium feeling to speakers streamlined design.
The main Sound Bar has 5 buttons with Power, Input, Bluetooth, and +/- Volume controls. Furthermore, on the left side of the bar along the edge behind the grill there is a stack of 12 blue leds which indicate the adjustment level, either if you are changing volume, bass, treble, surround level, etc. Considering you have all your controls under a fingertip with LCD screen remote, there is no need for any display on the bar since it won't be even visible from a distance. I think the use of bright LEDs is very efficient to compliment LCD screen of the remote when you are adjusting levels and have a visual feedback from a bar with a number of lit up leds.
On the back of Sound Bar, you have two cavities with a number of available connection ports. These cavities are just deep enough for a better management of cables, especially if you choose to wall mount the bar. In one opening you have a power cable port and two sets of Auxiliary inputs, 3.5mm or Stereo RCA where you can use the same included 3.5mm to Stereo RCA cable to accommodate either of these connections. The other connection opening has Coax input, Digital Optical Audio In, USB port (WAV playback only), HDMI In port, and HDMI Out (ARC - Audio Return Channel connection supported by newer TVs to send audio over HDMI cable).
When it comes to Subwoofer, you no longer have to worry about running wires to the back of your room since it is wireless with 60ft of clear line of sight range. But you do need to keep in mind that rear Satellite speakers do get attached to Subwoofer with RCA cables. Still, it's a lot easier to manage running wires in the back (in our case, behind the couch) then doing this across the room. Back of the subwoofer has a power switch and a power port, RCA connections for satellite speakers, and LED indicator along with a wireless pairing button. By default subwoofer was already paired up, but if you need to do it again - it's an easy process. Satellite speakers just have a single RCA connection, no power required since they are passive.
Setup with my TV was a breeze. Vizio manual, in addition to a detailed setup walkthrough, also gives you suggestions about which cable/connection will yield the best sound quality. Of course, you are limited by your TV hardware/ports, but I was lucky enough to have a dedicated HDMI ARC port and decided to use that as my primary audio connection. Also, our TV is mounted to the arm attached to a TV table-stand, so it was an easy decision to place the Sound Bar on top of the table surface under the TV. Subwoofer with satellite speakers went behind the couch toward the back of the room.
With a help of remote's LCD screen, setup and adjustment was easy and very intuitive. Remote has a single line easy to read LCD screen conveniently located at the top with Input/Menu/Power buttons underneath, 4-way control with Enter/Play/Pause in the middle, and Volume +/- with Mute in between below that. Input was the first stop to get to HDMI ARC port selection to enable a sound. Afterwards, I was using Menu for selection of other available controls.
Going through Menu choices is easy by pressing Up/Down arrow to go through available functions, selecting one with Enter button and using Next/Prev buttons to increase/decrease the value with a visual feedback from leds on the bar. There were a lot of functions to fine tune the performance of these speakers. First of all, you have Bluetooth Pairing (to pair up with a smartphone or a tablet). Then you have separate Bass and Treble levels to adjust corresponding low frequency and high frequency content. Center Level adjusts the amount of dialog in the center channel, Surround Level adjust amount of surround sound, and Surround Balance adjust the balance of surround level on each side. Subwoofer level adjusts the level of subwoofer output to control the amount of "boom" without affecting overall bass level. Surround On/Off will switch between virtual surround and 3.1 stereo modes. DTS TruVolume On/Off will enable consistent volume level, and Night Mode On/Off will lower bass frequency so you don't disturb others when listening late at night. Also, AV compensation audio delay could be adjusted from remote, and so does a few other options for TV remote setup, Eco Power Mode setup, Programming remote, or Reset to a factory default setting.
I also enjoyed the idea of being able to use SB4051 Sound Bar as a regular Bluetooth 4.0 wireless speaker which also supports apt-X codec. Though I already have a number of high quality BT speakers at home, those are usually smaller in size and need to be charged up. Here, with TV being already center of our home entertainment, I was able to add another functionality of streaming music from my smartphone or tablet. Pair up was flawless where speaker was recognized and connected to Media Audio without any problem. Keep in mind that it’s not going to work as a speakerphone since there is no built-in mic. Another thing to keep in mind, Sound Bar produces a rich balanced dynamic sound, but addition of subwoofer and satellite speakers is more appropriate for watching movies rather than listening to music where I found a sound to be a bit distracting. For playing your music wirelessly I would suggest turning Subwoofer power off which also disables rear satellite speakers.
Now since I covered design and functionality details, I would like to move on to the most important part of the test – sound evaluation. I was actually surprised, expecting a typical power spec in Watts like you see it with other speakers, but instead found a reference to Sound Pressure Level (SPL) of 102dB with less than 1% THD. It could get confusing with power rating of speakers where some vendors go for a marketing hype with Max power rating instead of the actual RMS power. With SPL rating there is no confusion and it’s more appropriate for loudness level measurement and relative audio level comparison.
In our particular setup at home around the TV we have a disadvantage of open floor plan. There is no acoustically treated wall material or covered windows or enclosed space for audio waves to bounce around. As a result sound usually diffuses quickly, affecting low end to attenuate significantly in quantity. Also, with a built in TV speakers, you can get a “loud” sound but to hear a speech better you need to raise the volume up which results in sound distortion and awful mid-bass thump without much of sub-bass support.
I hate using a “night and day” cliche to describe the improvement in sound quality once we switched to SB4051 Sound Bar, but there is no other way to describe this sound improvement. Since my TV has HDMI ARC and considering Vizio recommended it as the best quality, that’s exactly what I used for the connection. Even without a subwoofer and satellite speakers, you get a very dynamic and rich, front speaker firing sound with a lot of clarity and deep bass texture. A sound was very linear and maintained its quality from the low volume level and all the way up to nearly the max. I think that was the most impressive feature where even at low level I was still able to hear clear and articulate speech without a need to raise a volume up to hear it better.
And speaking of volume control, after the initial setup to select HDMI ARC Input, I put the remote aside and was able to control volume directly with my Samsung TV remote control. I did adjust the bass level for a better balance and color, and also played around with surround sound setting which had a noticeable effect. As a matter of fact, SB4051 is packed with sound enhancement and audio decoding technology, everything from Dolby Digital to DTS Digital Surround, DTS Circle Surround, DTS Studio Sound, and DTS TruVolume. For general TV watching or when my kids watch their favorite YT channels and Netflix shows, rear subwoofer/satellite speakers are not even necessary, or better yet – you can tone it down by adjusting subwoofer level from your remote. But once you are ready for a real movie action, get some popcorn and turn up that subwoofer!!!
As I mentioned before, the only true way to appreciate the impact of this 5.1 Channel system is to play some of your favorite action movies, in my case any of the latest Marvel Comic movies would do the trick! With satellite surround speakers in the back, it really feels like you are in the middle of the action, and it took me a few minutes to realize that a thumb I’m hearing in the back wasn’t coming from a neighbor blasting his car stereo outside, but rather from the subwoofer. This speaker system really creates a home movie theater experience. Now thinking that I don’t even have satellite speakers on stands or subwoofer bass port facing the wall at the optimum angle, and our TV room in the corner of the house with only one solid wall, one larger window and one fully open wall/side - I can only expect sound quality to go up from there if I would have a proper acoustically enclosed setup.
Not sure if it’s applicable to use my usual sound test vocabulary to describe a sound, but you definitely hear a perfect balance of deep sub-bass texture with a punchy mid-bass. warm organic and still very detailed mids which deliver clear full body speech/voices, and smooth and detailed treble – no extra brightness or sibilance, just a smooth detailed sound with an excellent bass layer. Of course, you can’t apply EQ here, but Bass and Treble control was sufficient enough. What I would refer to as “soundstage” is taken care by Surround sound setting, and it was quite convincing.
on June 14, 2015
Got here yesterday, took 15 minutes to set up. Sounds fantastic, worth the money for sure. Have it hooked up to my 50" vizio tv with the optical cable, the wired speakers pick up all the little sounds. The wireless sub packs a great punch and it is not distorted at all. Last but not least the bluetooth function works flawlessly, could not be happier!
on April 29, 2015
Just got this VIZIO SB3821 Sound Bar few days ago. It only took me an hour or so to install and hook up to my VIZIO 42" HDTV I have hanging on the wall. The sound is really awesome! Hard to imagine this robust sound is coming from a speaker bar this size. The wireless Subwoofer really hits some deep lows...puts in a nice background bass sound to my movies. VIZIO hit a home-run with this set up! Would recommend this to my friend.
on June 29, 2015
I was looking for a great sound bar to go with the new 50 inch LED tv I'd purchased. Prices for stereo surround systems can run from a few hundred up into the thousands and I personally wasn't looking to spend that much. I wanted something that was better than my tv's speakers without the price of a premium system. I read a LOT of reviews before deciding on this new VIZIO sound bar. Amazon was offering an extra $30 off the normal price for Prime members and I couldn't beat $148 for this system anywhere. This sound gets great reviews from a lot of techies and I can honestly say that it's a great system. It's not just a great sound bar for the money. Instead, this sound bar beats other costing WAY more than this. It has a solid construction, a wireless bluetooth subwoofer and a remote control. To test this sound bar, I played lots of movies (like Godzilla, Transformers and anything else with lots of high pulsing sound) and there was no distortion whatsoever. The sound is crisp and clear and it's so much easier to make out what actors are saying when they tend to mumble. Recently I had a guy over who works as an eletronics installer setting up home theaters for people. He was so impressed with this sound bar that he said he'd make it a point to pick one up. He mentioned that he's installed sound bars for other people from all the big brand names and most of those systems didn't sound as good as my VIZIO. If you want a great sound bar and not pay and arm and a leg for it, get this system. It's easy to set up and you'll love it!
on August 11, 2015
I ordered this after our other sound bar that we had for only two years crapped out on us. My boyfriend and I spent a lot of time researching different brands and set ups and finally ended up finding this one to be the best overall fit for what we wanted. The bar is 38" long, and comes with a wireless sub-woofer and two satellite speakers. Everything you need to set this system up comes in right in the box, including all your different component cables. We hooked ours up with the included optical cable, so we could get the best sound out of the system. Set up really was easy. While the sub-woofer is wireless, the satellite speakers need to be plugged into the back of the sub-woofer, but they have VERY generous cable lengths, so you could put them pretty much anywhere you want. The remote lets you control all the various settings easily. It took us a while to find the right setting to be able to hear voices clearly and without feeling like the sub-woofer was going to vibrate the house down. Also being able to hook my phone or tablet up through bluetooth is a great added bonus.
on August 25, 2014
My daughter ordered this for me on her Amazon Prime account because I just had to have it by the weekend for a Carolina Panthers game watching get together at my house. I have a 70 inch Vizo E series and needed something big enough to match the screen size. I’ve always been a component guy and had my doubts about a Sound Bar Package, especially at this price. CNET rated it as best in class however so why not. Amazon, true to their word got it to me under my young’ns Prime account in just 2 days with free shipping! I think setting it up took less time than unpacking it. It was a real engineering marvel to get it all into that specially shaped box inside a box for sure! I have never seen so much Styrofoam.
Setup couldn’t have been easier. I set the bar in front of my TV, and then put the big sub in the back corner of the room. Nice long cables were provided to connect the rear satellite speakers to the sub. I put them behind my couch. When I powered up, the Sub paired automatically and it was ready to go. I connected to the HDMI ARC connector on my Vizio TV which was touted as the “best” option in the manual. Also provided were cables for either an optical, digital coax, or plain old school RCA connections. The beauty of having a Vizio TV however lies in using the HDMI ARC connection. Once I connected up, I simply had my TV automatically “discover” the sound bar and I was good to go. This allows my Vizio remote to control the Soundbar on/off/volume with my Vizio remote and an added bonus of an on screen display. Very nice. The sound bar also allows for programming other remotes, but I like having the same logo on both units.
So how did it sound? Well my plan was to give this a try and if not satisfied, I was going to upgrade my old bulky cable busy component system with a new 5:1 capable receiver and cram it all into a cabinet or something. Instead I was totally impressed with the Vizio. Adjustments are pretty intuitive from the remote, but there is also a quick reference guide which puts everything in plain English. A few tweaks on the equalizer and subwoofer levels and I was in home theater heaven. I opted to try it out with a Blue Ray (Jack Ryan) and it was definitely a theater experience. Sounds from all direction, discernible movement around the room as cars passed on screen and events happened in different areas of the scene etc… The kicker was the sub. With a “package” at this price point, I expected the sub to be the weak link. I was very much surprised at the very large bass filling the room. It’s non-directional at these frequencies so it was IN THE ROOM not just coming from the back corner. Big and thunderous, yet not overdriven or muddy. The action scenes and explosions were shaking the house. Very very nice Vizio! It’s a lock and my old and tired components are either going in the teen hangout room or to the Salvation Army for all I care. Since I can play CD’s on my Blue Ray and can stream iTunes from my iPhone, all I’ll need to add to have a complete killer music setup is an FM Tuner. I can run that right into the RCA inputs.
All in all for under 500 bucks this is an outstanding system and I endorse CNETs review. The only cons I have found to it so far are that the LEDs that light up when you are making adjustments from the remote are nearly impossible to see in the daytime they are so tiny and dim. You have to get right up in front of it to really see what you are adjusting. They are better at night in a darker room. I also found that having the “VizioTVRemote” set to ON can be a bit problematic. This allows you to turn the bar off and on with your TV remote in addition to using it to adjust volume. The problem is that is uses “Volume Up” on your TV remote to turn on the Sound bar. If you are for some reason not using the sound bar (just watching the news etc..) if you go to turn up the volume on your TV itself with your remote it will also turn on the sound bar. This could be a bit problematic at midnight! This really confused my wife so I set the "VizioTVRemote" function to OFF. This still allows me to adjust the volume with my TV remote, but I must use either the sound bar remote or the button on the bar itself to power up and down. Not a big deal at all to avoid the confusion. Also, as noted in the CNET review, the sound bar is over 4” tall and 54” wide. It blocked the bottom inch or so of my screen and also blocked the remote sensor on the TV if you sat too far to the right. I ordered an OFC Express TV Stand, also from Amazon. It completely solved the problem. It raised it up enough to clear the screen and remote sensor, and also provided a nice tunnel underneath to run all my cables through. I am quite please with this purchase and love the simplicity as well as the sound.
Good stuff all around…except the Patriots took it to the Panthers 30-7. Much more painful of a loss to experience on a 70” big screen in 5:1 surround sound. LOL!
on December 17, 2014
Arrived on time...packaging was great...super easy to setup (less than 10 minutes)...5 STARS from me...the sound is amazing...I have a 70 inch VIZIO TV E-series and it has truly turned my TV room into a true movie theater experience.