Finding Your Perfect Vizio Soundbar

I want to let you in on a little secret in the world of home theater – your fancy new 4K HDR TV is likely sounding way worse than its ultra sharp picture looks.

Manufacturers have prioritized slimmer and slimmer TV designs in recent years, leaving little room inside for decent integrated speakers.

This is why I put together this guide to help you choose an external soundbar perfectly matched to your space, usage needs and budget.

Below I‘ll compare the top 5 best-selling Vizio soundbar models across three categories:

  • Overall performance
  • Key features
  • Situational fit

My goal is to give you all the information required so you can enjoy much better movie, TV and music audio tailored exactly for your living room.

Let‘s get started!

Vizio Soundbars – What Are Your Options?

Vizio soundbars come in a variety of shapes and sizes fitting different spaces with premium features even in entry-level options.

Here is a high-level overview before we dive into detailed recommendations:

ModelChannelsSurround SoundHeight SpeakersSubwooferWiFi StreamingPrice
Elevate5.1.4Dolby AtmosYes – Upfiring x4WirelessYes – Chromecast$599
V21t2.1DTS Virtual:XNoWirelessNo$149
M512a3.0DTS Virtual:XNoNoNo$199
M21d5.1.2Dolby AtmosYes – Upfiring x2Integrated x2Yes – Chromecast$249
SB365145.1.4Dolby AtmosYes – Upfiring x2WirelessYes – Chromecast$479

Beyond specs, real-world performance varies between models based on included audio technologies, speaker components, amplification power, connectivity and more. We‘ll cover all that in this guide.

Below you‘ll find my current top recommendations across three budget tiers. I evaluated numerous professional and buyer reviews to narrow down the very best options for most people.

Overall Best Vizio Soundbar: Vizio Elevate

  • 5.1.4 Channel Surround with Dolby Atmos/DTS:X
  • 18 Total Speakers including 4 Upfiring Height Channels
  • 340 Watts System Power
  • Hi-Res Audio Support
  • Auto-Rotating Surround Speakers

If you want truly immersive, theater-like audio in your living room, the Vizio Elevate is my top overall recommendation.

This is Vizio‘s flagship surround soundbar leveraging premium Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio formats to create 3D soundscapes no basic setup can touch.

Four height speakers built into the main soundbar cabinet itself bounce overhead sounds like helicopters, rainfall and spaceships off your ceiling and down to your ears. This creates ultra-realistic imaging unmatched by typical ground-level 5.1 systems.

But it gets better. Motorized satellite speakers on each end of the 46-inch wide bar rotate upward or forward automatically when Dolby/DTS:X content is played.

Angled upwards, they better reflect surround audio channels off surrounding walls enveloping you in 360 degrees of sound. Truly amazing for movies!

An included wireless subwoofer provides foundation shaking bass as the cherry on top.

With integrated Wi-Fi and Chromecast support, you also get full app control and wireless music streaming from Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music and more.

The Elevate utilizes high-performance speakers and amplification for incredible clarity even at loud volumes. Crisp clear dialogue ensures you never miss pivotal lines during action sequences where many competing bars muddy sounds together.

If you want one of the most immersive, feature-packed soundbars money can buy from a trusted brand at a reasonable price – the Vizio Elevate sits at the top of the mountain.

Elevate Key Specs:

  • 5.1.4 channel surround sound
  • Dolby Atmos & DTS:X support w/ auto-rotating satellite speakers
  • 18 total speakers including 4 upfiring drivers
  • 340 watts total system power
  • Hi-Res Audio compatible
  • Wireless subwoofer included
  • Built-in Chromecast WiFi streaming
  • HDMI 2.1, HDMI ARC, optical, Bluetooth, USB inputs
  • Premium metallic industrial design
  • Dimensions: 46.1 x 4.2 x 5.4 inches; 14.3 pounds

Best Budget Vizio Soundbar: Vizio V21t-J8

  • 2.1 Channel Soundbar
  • Includes Wireless Subwoofer
  • DTS Virtual:X Surround Sound
  • Integrated Bluetooth
  • Dialogue Enhancement

If you want better, clearer TV/movie audio than basic integrated speakers can provide at a super affordable sub-$150 price point – look no further than Vizio‘s V21t-J8 model.

You get a compact 36-inch 2.1 channel soundbar with included wireless subwoofer for enhanced bass response television speakers sorely lack. Forget muffled explosions and bone-rattling soundtrack hits – this sub adds serious low-frequency impact especially at higher volumes.

While physically smaller than premium models, integrated DTS Virtual:X technology creates immersive 3D spatial imaging you‘d expect from full surround packages. This wide, room-filling soundstage brings movies to life and makes music listening more enveloping.

Bluetooth removes cables streaming tunes from your smartphone and tablet as well. Just tap to pair and enjoy wireless freedom.

Setting up the V21t takes only minutes with included optical or HDMI ARC cables plugging straight into your TV. Control volume via included remote or directly through your television controls thanks to HDMI-CEC support.

For the price, you would be hard pressed finding a better performing, more feature-packed 2.1 channel soundbar from any other major manufacturer. The Vizio V21t-J8 brings genuine cinematic audio improvement to any space at an ultra-affordable cost.

V21t-J8 Key Specs:

  • 2.1 channel sound
  • Wireless 5” subwoofer included
  • DTS Virtual:X 3D spatial surround sound
  • Integrated Bluetooth music streaming
  • TV remote volume control support
  • Dialogue enhancement mode
  • 36-inch size fits smaller TV stands
  • Dimensions: 35.6 x 2.2 x 3.2 inches; 4.2 pounds

Best Dialogue-Focused Vizio Bar: M512a-H6

  • Dedicated Center Channel Speaker
  • Surround Sound DSP Technology
  • Hi-Res Audio Support
  • Night Listening Mode
  • Multi-Device Connectivity

If you‘ve ever strained to decipher mumbled or quiet dialogue during movies, the M512a-H6 is purpose-built for maximum vocal intelligibility.

A dedicated center channel beam directly projects each syllable clearly and accurately to your ears – no more guessing or cranking volumes trying to interpret key scenes.

This focused center imaging makes a world of difference compared to cramming mids/highs into Left/Right drivers alone resulting in indistinct lines lost against other sounds in mixes.

The 38-inch width accommodates slim TV stands yet packs impressive power. Integrated DTS Virtual:X signal processing expands stereo or multichannel content for panoramic room-filling sound.

You also get handy built-in features like Night Mode which maintains speech clarity automatically reducing loud effects that may disturb others. No complex calibration or settings tweaking needed.

The M512a-H6 nails the basics across the board – vocal-focused center channel, surround sound processing and smart usability features outclassing basic entry models.

If you‘re big on streaming, integrated Bluetooth removes cables plus analog/digital inputs handle everything from cable boxes to games consoles.

For the price, you‘ll be seriously impressed by how such clear, balanced audio can come from this single understated black bar. Movies and especially talk-heavy content sound superb.

M512a-H6 Key Specs:

  • 3.0 channel sound with dedicated center speaker
  • DTS Virtual:X surround sound processing
  • Hi-Res Audio support via USB DAC
  • Night listening mode
  • Bluetooth music streaming
  • Optical/analog RCA inputs
  • Wall-mountable
  • Dimensions: 38 x 2.1 x 3.1 inches; 4.7 pounds

Beyond comparing specs and pricing, several personal factors shape what model best fits your room, usage and expectations.

Here are key decisions to guide your search:

Audio Detail vs Impact

This spectrum comes down to a precision vs power preference. Do you prioritize micro-details like faint environmental cues and instrument textures heard through high-accuracy speakers? Or do you want window-rattling bass even if it masks some minutia?

Floorstanding towers rendering delicate acoustic guitar plucks serve a diferent goal than giant club PA subs meant to hit you in the chest. Determine where your needs fit here.

Movie Immersion vs Music Listening

SURROUND SOUND oriented models leverage added height/spatial channels plus processing to fully envelope you in a virtual sphere. This complements visually expansive movie scenes augmenting action.

Dedicated stereo setups focused purely on music often opt for simpler dual-channel speakers optimizing placement and imaging specificity for tonally-accurate playback.

There‘s crossover potential but consider your main usage – late night Spotify jam sessions or weekend cinema marathons?

Compact Size vs Surround Sound

Larger multichannel soundbars integrate separate components like wireless rears or upfiring drivers delivering immersive audio unmatched by more constricted single cabinets.

But they occupy substantial real estate below today‘s ever-growing display dimensions. For tight spaces, ultra-compact models may fit better.

Measure area available, visually mock up sizing and think carefully about room versatility needs accommodating both goals rather than just current limitations.

Voice Clarity vs Overall Loudness

Many soundbars tuned for maximum SPL lack nuance reproducing intricate midrange details like dialogue against chaotic sound mix layers. Others articulate human voices & textures better at saner volumes.

Consider your listening habits – lower late night viewing or loud dynamic daytime playback? Speech vs soundtrack priority? Match sensitivity & headroom capabilities accordingly.

Wireless Streaming vs Wired Inputs

Built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi provide incredible wireless streaming convenience from today‘s phone/cloud ecosystems. But they depend on wireless signal reliability and interface through third party apps.

Alternatively basic audio-only ports like HDMI ARC or optical may lack fancy integration but work consistently sit-and-forget with nearly every source.

Ideally modern soundbars include both. But if forced to choose, what suits your gear and listening style better?

Integrating a soundbar into existing systems need not require complex rewiring or equipment overhauls. Modern Vizio models are designed for painless plug-and-play enhancement.

Here are best practices unleashing your new purchase‘s full potential:


Between Front Channels – Position centered horizontally below or above display at roughly ear level when seated. Allow a few inches clearance to walls for best open-air soundstage.

3"+ From Screen Edge – Keep forward-firing drivers away from display bezels to prevent acoustic reflections interfering with clarity.

Anchor Securely If Mounted – Use provided template to trace mounting holes accurately. Ensure surface and anchors safely support weight without pull-out or vibration over time.

Hide Wires – Utilize cable management tracks, concealers and kicks to keep necessary wiring tight along trim rather than dangling randomly visible. Right angle adapters allow tighter turns behind.

Experiment With Angling – Tilt soundbar slightly upwards towards central seating row rather than firing parallel forward. Sound projects more directly without wasting energy beyond the audience. Play with angles.

Give Subwoofer Breathing Room – Avoid tight crevices blocking driver excursion. Corner placement boosts bass thanks to wall reinforcement. Facing woofers outwards towards the audience keeps output focused.


  • HDMI ARC – Use provided HDMI cable between TV ARC port and soundbar HDMI IN jack. Carries both digital video & audio signals. Enables TV remote volume control of bar.

  • Optical If No ARC – Connect optical cable from TV optical audio out to soundbar optical input only jack as alternative. Enable TV speakers option menu for light integration.

  • Streaming Setup – Download Vizio SmartCast app to connect over Wi-Fi for music apps access, EQ settings and firmware updates support. Follow on-screen prompts.

  • Enable CEC Control – Power on/off often can be controlled automatically via TV remote when HDMI-CEC enabled in bar and compatible display settings menus allowing convenient unified command.


  • Break-In Period – Sound quality and bass depth noticeably improve after initial multi-hour "burn-in" allowing drivers & cabinet to loosen up. Be patient through early stiffness!

  • Equalization – Built-in EQ presets like Movie, Music, Night Mode tailor frequency response suiting genres. Start neutral flat first before tweaking. Too much can skew tonal balance.

  • Trueplay Tuning – Select systems offer auto calibration mics/routines to custom tune drivers perfectly for your unique room acoustics/placement rather than factory generic presets.

  • Loudness Off – While sometimes necessary, bypass loudness/volume leveling features when possible allowing full wide dynamics reproduction. They conceal detail at sane volumes.

Do I still need a soundbar if I already own a Vizio TV?

Yes absolutely! Even latest Vizio TVs with better audio than most rely on small drivers squeezed into thin profiles unable meet the scale, impact and nuance standalone sound systems provide. Purpose-built soundbars offer larger speaker elements, necessary breathing room for cabinet resonance and multi-channel immersive audio no television form factor allows competitive with. Upgrading to a dedicated bar remains one of the most dramatic A/V improvements you can make regardless television chosen.

What should I look for adding an external subwoofer?

Start by checking if your Vizio model includes bundled wireless sub or offers wired subwoofer preamp outputs allowing easy integration. If upgrading subs independently, match quantity of available outputs to driver inputs ensuring proper channel compatibility. Powered subs with built-in amplification can tie into outputs directly whereas passive subs need an external amp rated for appropriate impedance driving those woofers. Position new subs following same open-air guidelines allowing cones clearance extending fully, maximizing loudness potential. Take advantage of corner-loading bass-boosting effects angling front-facing units along multiple joining walls.

What mounts work installing Vizio soundbars on walls?

Vizio soundbars include integrated mounting slots and threaded holes allowing secure wall attachment off included template diagrams. Ensure chosen fasteners appropriately support weight of whichever model’s enclosure size plus internals without risk of pull-out or vibration over time. Heavy duty solutions like concrete anchors for brick and masonry or extra-long self-tapping screw pairs for added drywall grip prevent accidents. Steel studs require toggles distributing load across broad hollow channel surfaces. Wood stud direct screws often suffice depending on density. Just be sure mechanical grip meets or exceeds downward forces leverage could exert over years of usage. Painless vertical mounting expands placement flexibility.

Do satellite speakers on premium models require rears?

Certain high-end Vizio systems integrate slim satellite speaker modules onto the outer edges of main soundbar cabinet rather than relying on separate surround units. These fire audio towards side walls creating distinct rear channel effects enveloping listeners horizontally. Careful angled positioning augments ambience heightening realism without requiring traditional standalone speakers cluttering room. It‘s a clever evolution consolidating spatial enrichment into single equipment footprint. Wired integration ensures seamless immersive playback without wireless headache hassles or interference common in more complex configurations. Satisfy surround sound cravings in one clutter-free bar.

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