VIZIO SB2821-D6 Review
Pros: Inexpensive, good bass quality, easy setup
Cons: Mediocre clarity
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Offering booming bass for a small price tag, the VIZIO SB2821-D6 is a great choice for bass aficionados on a budget. However, if you mostly want a more refined listening experience for movies with lots of dialogue and good soundtracks, there are a few better options in the same price range.
While not one of the top scorers, the VIZIO SB2821-D6 performed at or above average in most of our tests, putting it in the upper half of our overall scoreboard.
A combination of great bass along with slightly below average clarity earned the VIZIO SB2821-D6 a fairly average score in our sound quality testing.
The external subwoofer is certainly the main selling point of the VIZIO SB2821-D6. It can pump out a serious amount of low end, adding a perceptible buzz to your favorite action movies or music. The bass is also quite well defined, avoiding much of the murkiness that can be heard in some other budget soundbars. Overall, the VIZIO SB2821-D6's bass is actually more effective than much more expensive soundbars that don't utilize external subwoofers, such as the $700 Sonos Playbar.
When it comes to clarity and the treble range, the VIZIO SB2821-D6 is good, but falls well short of great. We can almost guarantee you're going to far prefer it to your TV's built-in speakers, but there are other soundbars in the price range that are able to make things sound noticeably more crisp. For example, the $90 TaoTronics TT-SK15 is a bit clearer, though it does lack much of the VIZIO SB2821-D6's bass power. If you're willing to spend a bit more, the $200 Yamaha YAS-108 is only a small step down in bass power but a large step up when it comes to clarity.
Ease of Use
The VIZIO SB2821-D6 offers pretty much all of the user-friendly touches one really needs, but lacks any helpful bells and whistles, again putting it middle-of-the-pack in this metric.
The best part of the SB2821-D6's user experience is the Bluetooth subwoofer. Where we ran into some annoyances with pairing wireless subwoofers from other brands, the SB2821-D6's subwoofer automatically pairs with the soundbar during setup.
Apart from that convenient pairing, the SB2821-D6 provides pretty much everything you need. It offers the convenience of Bluetooth connectivity, so you can stream anything you want from any Bluetooth enabled device. It has a remote control that is easy to use, as well on on-bar controls for when you can't find the remote.
What the SB2821-D6 lacks is some of the extra, sometimes superfluous but often useful, features many other soundbars offer. For example, many other models use an associated app that allows for streaming via WiFi instead of Bluetooth, and for finer tuning of the EQ. WiFi streaming is nice, as your music won't be interrupted every time your phone gets an alert, but it certainly isn't a necessity. The SB2821-D6 also lacks any sort of built-in virtual assistant, which is slowly becoming common in many soundbars. Finally, the SB2821-D6 doesn't have an HDMI-in, instead opting for optical, coaxial, or RCA inputs. This isn't a huge deal, as the soundbar comes with cables for each option, and the vast majority of TVs have at least one of those ports. However, HDMI is quickly becoming a go-to for most audiovisual products, so the lack of such a port is a bit odd.
The SB2821-D6 offers easy adjustment of treble levels with via the remote. you can also adjust the low end of both the soundbar and subwoofer independently. Apart from that, there are a few preset sound modes for music and movies.
For most, people, this is going to be more than enough adjustability. However, many other models offer a few extra preset sound modes that people have found useful. We like at least a quiet mode, which dampens all the loudest noises so a late night action movie won't wake your neighbors, and a speech enhancement mode, which makes dialogue louder and more clear. The absence of these modes certainly isn't a dealbreaker, especially considering the SB2821-D6's low price, but it is a bit of a disappointment.
In general, the SB2821-D6 looks quite handsome. It keeps thing simple with lots of clean lines and right angles. The metal ends on both the soundbar and subwoofer look high quality, and the black, mesh coverings over the speakers themselves also lend an appearance of quality. The only small issues for some people may be the accents provided by those metal ends. This look will certainly work if you're going for a clean modern aesthetic, but placing this soundbar on an antique, wooden TV stand may be a bit of an odd juxtaposition, depending on the finish of the wood.
The $130 price tag of the VIZIO SB2821-D6 is quite a good deal for those that want the extra low end of an external subwoofer. If you're looking for better clarity, both the TaoTronics TT-SK15 and the Yamaha YAS-108 are superior when it comes to sound-per-dollar.
The VIZIO SB2821-D6 is a great option for bass lovers on a budget, but doesn't provide the most well-rounded soundscape in the price range.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata