Vizio V21 assessment: Greatest funds soundbar of 2020 to this point

Vizio V21 Assessment: Greatest Funds Soundbar Of 2020 To This Point

Regardless of its ridiculous title, I used to be extremely jazzed in regards to the Vizio SB3621n-E8 soundbar when it got here out in 2017. It was a great-sounding, inexpensive soundbar and has remained my favourite worth over the past three years. The Vizio V21 reviewed right here is its pure successor and enjoys quite a few upgrades past a less complicated title. The brand new bar provides HDMI, modifications the cosmetics and consists of an intriguing sensible speaker connection.

Vizio V21 Assessment: Greatest Funds Soundbar Of 2020 To This Point

LikeExcellent dwelling cinema sound on a budgetDTS Digital:X improves immersionVersatile connectivity, with HDMI ARC

Vizio V21 Assessment: Greatest Funds Soundbar Of 2020 To This Point

Do not LikeSubwoofer is small and never very articulateVoice assistant connection not tremendous helpful

Vizio V21 Assessment: Greatest Funds Soundbar Of 2020 To This Point

The sound high quality is as unhurried and pure as earlier than, however the competitors is way more durable today. Polk and Yamaha have been snapping at Vizio’s heels for a number of years, and fashions like the brand new Polk Signa S3 supply even higher sound for a bit extra money.

Vizio V21 Assessment: Greatest Funds Soundbar Of 2020 To This Point

If you wish to improve your TV’s sound for underneath $200, the Vizio V21 ought to be amongst your high decisions, and it’ll play again music in advantageous trend too. It is not fairly as shocking or energizing as the unique SB3621, however that is alright. The V21 stands by itself deserves as a reliable speaker at a superb worth. 

Vizio V21 Assessment: Greatest Funds Soundbar Of 2020 To This Point

Vizio V21 ports, options and distant

Vizio V21 Assessment: Greatest Funds Soundbar Of 2020 To This Point

The highest panel.

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Soundbars are black blobs for probably the most half, heard and never seen, and the V21 follows the trade template to the letter: fundamental black with a mesh cowl and a barely textured plastic high. The topside additionally provides a collection of controls together with enter choice, Bluetooth and quantity management. 

Although the size of the soundbar is now not within the title, as with the SB3621 (Sound Bar, 36 inches, 2.1 channel… get it?) the Vizio V21 can be 36 inches lengthy. That title nonetheless incorporates a lame Easter egg, nevertheless, as a result of it is a 2.1-channel soundbar.

The wi-fi subwoofer that comes with the system is a roughly Eight-inch dice — now black as a substitute of silver — and it incorporates a down-firing driver and rear port.

The LED now modifications colour based on the enter.

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

After years of complaints (at the very least from me), Vizio has up to date the soundbar’s LED show. As a substitute of an inscrutable collection of white dots the show can now change colour based on the enter and signify quantity stage by ascending vertically. It is completely usable, though a conventional alphanumeric show could be even clearer.

Essentially the most notable addition is the HDMI ARC port. This connector lets you hook up one cable on to the ARC port on the again of your TV, and it is best in the event you simply use the streaming options constructed into the TV itself, or use the TV to change between inputs. You probably have a extra difficult system, for instance an exterior streamer, you need to use the bar’s optical connection. Different choices embrace Bluetooth, USB, a three.5mm analog enter and one other, all-new three.5mm connection to your “voice assistant speaker” (learn: Amazon Echo Dot ($40 at Amazon)).

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The thought behind the “VA” (voice activated) enter is noble sufficient. You join your sensible speaker to this port and the soundbar switches to the enter robotically when it hears a command. However the primary drawback is that you just then want to make use of your distant to change again to a different supply manually. 

I am certain Vizio is attempting to cater to individuals who wish to use their Dot as a music or podcast supply and reap the benefits of the V21’s superior sound. In my expertise, nevertheless, switching again to HDMI or optical to make use of the V21 with one other supply — just like the TV or a recreation console — shortly grew to become annoying.

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

That distant is purposeful and comparatively straightforward to make use of, even when you might want to keep in mind to make use of the up and down buttons to regulate the sub quantity as a substitute of the extra pure quantity keys.

How does the Vizio V21 sound?

As a result of necessity of testing at dwelling, I haven’t got a Vizio SB3621 for direct comparisons, however the V21 is simply as even-handed as I keep in mind the earlier mannequin being. As a substitute I in contrast the brand new $180 Vizio in opposition to a few different 2020 fashions, the $250 Polk Signa S3 and the $300 JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass, nevertheless it’s clearly price protecting in thoughts the numerous value variations.

In comparison with these two merchandise, the Vizio’s secret weapon is its DTS Digital:X compatibility. The function, first seen in Yamaha audio system, permits humble soundbars just like the V21 to emulate a encompass system, and it performs very nicely. Alas the JBL and Polk lack this add-on and so did not supply the identical stage of immersion.

Whereas the larger sub of the JBL Deep bass supplied the perfect bass articulation of the three, the JBL could not beat the Vizio in Digital:X mode for immersion, particularly when it got here to the foyer scene in The Matrix. Bullets whizzed in the direction of me and the ratatatat that precedes the soldier’s “Freeze!” was extra pronounced on the Vizio than both the Polk or the JBL.

The bigger subs of the Polk and JBL higher helped convey the gunfight’s influence, nevertheless. The Polk served up an thrilling and kinetic efficiency, due partly to the bigger and extra articulate sub. The Vizio was overwhelmed by a few of the low notes within the synth-bass rating by comparability.

The Vizio’s expressive midrange made film dialog sound clear and balanced. In the course of the thanator chase in Avatar (at 26:53), streaming from Disney Plus, the Vizio sounded sonically fuller than the Polk, which was just a little hole compared, with weaker, decrease midrange. Adjusting the Polk’s bass management and sound mode did not shore up the stability in a significant manner.

Essentially the most-expensive JBL Deep Bass 2.1 was probably the most enjoyable on this scene. The bigger sub was capable of catch extra of the low frequency results — from the pad of the thanator’s footfalls to the light roar of the waterfall — and the jungle sounded extra alive with bugs and working water.

With music, the Vizio did not sound as dynamic as both the JBL or the Polk, however nonetheless conveyed an actual sense of stereo sound. The graceful handover to the subwoofer meant that acoustic music and male voices specifically sounded pure, though the Polk was nonetheless barely higher. When Ben Harper did his spooky “in your room factor” along with his tune Widow of a Dwelling Man, a few the bottom guitar notes on the Vizio bonged in a manner that sounded misplaced. There was a higher distinction between the guitar and the voice on the Vizio, however I could not get the increase out even with the bass management at its lowest (there was an enormous soar between zero and 1). The Polk was extra pleasant general with music, with a greater deal with on dynamics and extra highly effective bass efficiency. It is the mannequin to decide on in the event you favor music over films.

Do you have to purchase the Vizio V21?

There is no such thing as a such factor as an ideal soundbar — because of dimension and funds constraints, their engineers have to make quite a few compromises. Not one of the three I examined on this comparability can supply every thing to everybody. The Vizio and the JBL have a tendency in the direction of dwelling theater sound whereas the Polk’s important power is music. Typically, the Vizio supplied higher immersion than the others and the Polk is the perfect compromise between the three fashions.

You probably have $200 or much less, the Vizio is a good selection, with highly effective bass and an expressive midrange. It is a advantageous follow-up to the SB3621 with the HDMI onboard specifically a welcome function. I can not say but the way it will stack up in opposition to the perfect soundbars of the yr, however there is no denying it is a superb worth already. 

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