Top critical review
19 people found this helpful
Looks good, sounds ok... but
on June 1, 2014
I've used this soundbar now for 4 months. It is a great looking unit: sleek & modern with small discrete LEDs to gauge the function usage. No soundbar can compete with a full 5.1 speaker setup so I'm not too concerned that I'm not enveloped in a complete field of sound in my small room since I never expected that, in fact occasionally there is a nice sense of space between onscreen sounds, but that depends on the program output mix & I might be sitting 1-2 feet further away from the soundbar to get a ideal soundfield.
My main criteria for this purchase were to improve on a flatscreen's speakers limited range without having to get a subwoofer & increase dialogue clarity for my aging ears which are losing their high frequencies at a relatively normal rate. Also Vizio seems to have hit a nice value balance in their soundbars between quality & price. My first soundbar was their entry-level VSB200 & I was astounded at the improvement in audio dynamics for very little $$$ ( I bought the item as a refurb from a deep discounter ). With time I realized that I was having more problems hearing dialogue with the VSB200 even though it is still performing admirably otherwise to this day. I primarily watch movies & these days it seems a lot of the crucial plot twist dialogue is spoken "sotto voce": a lower volume compared to all the rest of the previous dialogue for dramatic effect & low in comparison to the scene's ambient noise & dramatic soundtrack.
I got tired of rewinding & raising volume for one or two phrases every 30 minutes & then bringing volume down again when I deciphered what they said. I knew I needed a center channel & the S5430W was one of the few soundbars that were 3.0. I considered the Vizio 5.1 soundbar/sub setup but I live in an apartment & the wiring & number of speakers laying around a small living room plus the potential for disturbing my neighbors with the subwoofer nixed that.
The S5430W was easy to set up, I was able to program my Logitech Universal Harmony remote quickly for power & volume control, the more specific adjustments still seem to have to be done with the Vizio remote which has a difficult to read LCD screen. The adjustments include a center channel, which does help somewhat with the dialogue, as well as bass, treble, surround, delay & a couple of others. While the center channel can be raised there is no way to diminish only L-R channels volume. The bigger problem I am having after only 3 months of normal to low volume usage (remember I am in an apartment building) is that the bass sounds are starting to rattle the unit.
The S5430W is advertised as "Dual Deep Bass Modules add serious low end frequency without the need for an external subwoofer." Even taking that as obvious marketing blarney from such a small profile speaker array I now can't move the bass function beyond halfway before the speaker(s) start buzzing like a cheap car radio. And considering music, whether on soundtracks or concert films, plus todays sound effects that over-emphasize low frequencies this thing is buzzing a lot of the time now & I am hearing mostly mids & highs after adjusting for this, a very shallow, fatiguing sound. This has only started happening in the last month & as stated I don't listen at particularly high volumes & have never utilized the BT music function, but I shudder at what that music would sound like if bass from TV shows are too much for the "Dual Deep Bass Modules".
This has only started in the last (fourth) month & of course the warranty is for 90 days so I am now considering either buying another more expensive soundbar from a actual speaker manufacturer or perhaps a small 8" subwoofer that I can dial way back so I can hear a bit of bass with the S5430W's mid/high output. Has anyone else experienced this with their unit? Perhaps I got a lemon.
At any rate I regretfully cannot recommend this unit based on my experience & I am actively looking to replace it.