Last year, VIZIO sent a 2016 VIZIO SmartCast M-Series Ultra HD HDR Home Theater Display for review. We set it up in our bedroom and love it! (Read the review here.) So I was thrilled when VIZIO offered me one of their brand new 36″ 5.1 VIZIO SmartCast Wireless Sound Bar Systems. It is the perfect complement to the display.
At just $249.99 with free shipping, the 5.1 VIZIO SmartCast Wireless Sound Bar System is an affordable way to get great sound in any room in your home. Add in the simple —and I do mean simple — setup, and you have a product I would happily recommend to just about anyone.
Inside the box was everything I needed to get started. There was the sound bar, wireless subwoofer, two satellite speakers, a 5’ RCA/3.5mm Mini Jack Cable, a 5’ 3.5mm Cable, a 5’ Optical Toslink Cable, a 5’ Digital 75 RCA (Coaxial / SPDIF), a 5’ HDMI Cable, two power cord for the sound bar and subwoofer, cables for the satellite speaker, and everything I needed to mount the sound bar beneath my display. In other words, for under $250 you get a sound bar, subwoofer, satellite speakers and pretty much ever single cable you might need. It is a great deal and a complete package!
VIZIO designed this system to be as flexible as possible. Hence their literature notes:
VIZIO Sound Bars are designed to blend in with a wide variety of placement options. They fit with any space and are sized to match your TV. Explore all the convenient and appealing places you can put your VIZIO Sound Bar.
I appreciate that flexibility. More than that, however, I appreciate the mounting system VIZIO developed. After all, my ideal setup has the sound bar sitting just beneath the display. This may sound like a small detail with which to begin this review, but I reviewed a sound bar from another company a few months ago, and the mounting of a sound bar became a big deal for me. I was impressed with the system but wholly unimpressed with the mounting system they employed. I am happy to say that mounting this VIZIO sound bar was just about as simple as simple could be. I’ll come back to this, but I did want to note this early in the review because it took a good system to an entirely new level for me.
The sound bar is thin and long measuring 36.00” wide by 2.10” high by 3.2” deep. It weighs just over 4.5 pounds. It is a simple sound bar with a clean, understated design.
Uninterrupted black speaker fabric covers the entire sound bar with simple, silver caps on either end.
The five buttons on the sound bar are hidden beneath the fabric and have a subtle icon for each that all but disappears unless you are looking for them. It is clear the aim here was to allow the soundbar to disappear into the background even as it took the sound from the display to new heights.
On the back of the sound bar, you will find all the connections. They are abundant and, because they are on the back, the cables can easily be hidden away to complement the clean lines of the sound bar itself. The available connections include:
- Analog Audio Input- 3.5mm stereo mini jack
- Digital Audio Input- Optical (Toslink)
- Digital Audio Input- RCA (Coaxial/SPDIF)
- USB Input- USB (for .WAV Audio Playback)
- HDMI Input, Ethernet Input, HDMI ARC
The sound bar also has Wi-Fi 802.11ac and Bluetooth BLE 4.0 built into it. In other words, this system will be compatible with pretty much anything you throw at it, AND it will also function as a Bluetooth speaker if you want to send audio from a mobile device. Finally, it has an IR Receiver built into it so you can control the speaker using the included remote from up to 30 feet away.
I connected the sound bar to a power source, plugged into the HDMI ARC connection, made the necessary adjustments in the display settings to indicate that the sound needed to now go to the sound bar, and I was up and running in less than five minutes.
Once I ensured the sound bar was working properly, I decided to mount it beneath my VIZIO display. Using the template and the included mounting hardware, I was able to have the sound bar mounted on the wall and in its proper position in just five minutes more. I was impressed.
Here’s the thing, I used the sound bar for a bit on its own, and I was impressed with how much better the sound was than it had been when I was relying on the sound from the television itself. But, and this is a huge but, the sound bar is only one part of the system I was sent for review. It also comes with a wireless subwoofer and two satellite speakers that have a wired connection to the subwoofer.
The subwoofer measures 6.70” W by 11.80” H by 7.90” D. It weighs in at 17.37 lbs.
The front of the subwoofer is silver with no significant markings of note. This gives it a clean look and allows it to disappear into its surroundings.
On the back, you can see the subwoofer speaker as well as the connection point for power, the two inputs for making a wired connection to the satellite speakers and two buttons.
One button is for power while the other is there if you need to pair the subwoofer to the sound bar.
The satellite speakers are small and display the same design language as the sound bar with a metal speaker fabric along the front and top and silver on the sides.
Each satellite speaker connects to the subwoofer via long thin cables.
I was initially worried that the cables would not be long enough to reach from one side of our king mattress to the other, but I quickly discovered that VIZIO, in their wisdom, made sure there was plenty of cable. The back of the satellite speakers also has a screw hole for mounting.
Once I had the subwoofer and satellite speakers in place, I turned the music back on. The result was impressive. It was, by far, the best sound we have had in the bedroom. The subwoofer added just enough “oomph,” and the satellite speakers helped fill the space without the need to make their presence too well known.
Overall, the sound coming from the 36″ 5.1 VIZIO SmartCast Wireless Sound Bar Systems is impressive.
- Sound Bar Size: 36″
- System Frequency Response: 50 Hz – 20 kHz
- Subwoofer Speaker Size: 5.2”
- Sound Pressure Level: 101dB
- Sound Enhancement Technology: Dolby Digital, DTS Studio Sound, DTS TruSurround, DTS TruVolume, DTS Digital Surround
- Bluetooth: Yes
- Sound Bar Buttons: Power, Input, Volume Up, Volume Down, Bluetooth
- Remote: Yes, with LCD Display
- Installation: Table Top and Wall-Mountable
When describing their sound bar series, and this is a series with offerings of 2.0, 2.1 and 5.1 sound bar systems, VIZIO has this to say:
- Sound that moves you: From massive explosions to faint whispers, experience every detail in amazing clarity up to 101 dB with less than 1% Total Harmonic Distortion.
- Bass you can feel: From the roar of a concert to the rumble of your party playlist, the sleek wireless subwoofer delivers room-shaking bass as deep as 20 Hz.
- Advanced audio technology: VIZIO SmartCast Sound Bars are crafted with intelligent audio technologies from the leaders in cinema quality sound.
- Perfectly Pairs with Your Picture: Immerse yourself in the entertainment you love. Experience true surround with crystal clear dialogue and booming bass.
So, the sound from the VIZIO SmartCast Sound Bar is great. The setup and installation were a breeze, and because, like the display, it is a VIZIO product, it is designed to seamlessly integrate with the display. But that’s only part of the story here. In addition to bringing television shows and movies to life, this sound bar system can also stand on its own. It has Bluetooth built-in so you can send audio from your phone, tablet or computer to it.
Moreover, like the display, it has Chromecast built into it. That means you don’t even have to use Bluetooth to get sound from your favorite Chromecast enabled apps such as Spotify and Pandora. To “cast” the sound from your mobile device, you simply fire up one of the appropriate apps and then…
To cast you follow these simple steps:
- Connect your device to the same WiFi network.
- Open a Chromecast enabled app.
- Tap the Cast button to send content to your VIZIO SmartCast device.
Finally, you can even use your voice to control a VIZIO display or sound bar with Google Home.
This is truly a sound bar system built for the media of 2017!
I’m a fan of the 5.1 VIZIO SmartCast Wireless Sound Bar System. It sets up in minutes, doesn’t call too much attention to itself, sounds great and offers a range of different ways to connect. Add in the fact that this entire system is just $249.99, and this is a sound bar system worth your attention. Check it out here.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Simple set up; Simple mounting; Great sound; Numerous ways to connect; Chromecast built in; Designed for use with a VIZIO display, but it can be used with any display or on its own
What Needs Improvement: Nothing. I’m impressed