Vizio V-Series 2.1 Home Theater Sound Bar V21-H8 Review
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Vizio V-Series 2.1 Home Theater Sound Bar V21-H8
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|Pros||Easy setup, great price tag, subwoofer included||Great sound for the price, bluetooth, external subwoofer||Compact footprint, simple setup, versatile physical inputs||Inexpensive, good connectivity, great dialogue enhancement mode||Low price, includes subwoofer|
|Cons||Not the best overall sound quality||No wifi connection, no EQ controls||No smart features, minimal EQ customization||Overall audio quality is unimpressive||No HDMI connection, weak low end|
|Bottom Line||This soundbar is loaded with great features and has an enormous sound, making it an exceptionally good value||This is the best sounding entry-level soundbar, and the loudest model we tested||This soundbar sounds great for its size, but can't hold a candle to higher-end models||This soundbar is sure to improve your home theater experience and is easy to plug in and start enjoying, though the audio quality is far from top-notch||This model is affordable and fairly easy to set up, though there are similarly priced options that deliver much better sound quality and advanced connectivity|
|Rating Categories||Vizio V-Series 2.1...||Sony HT-S350||Bose TV Speaker||Yamaha YAS-109||Samsung HW-A450/ZA...|
|Sound Quality (45%)|
|Ease of Use (35%)|
|Specs||Vizio V-Series 2.1...||Sony HT-S350||Bose TV Speaker||Yamaha YAS-109||Samsung HW-A450/ZA...|
|Dimensions||Bar: 2.28" x 36.00" x 3.20"
Sub: 9.9" x 8.25" x 8.25"
|Bar: 2.6" x 35.5" x 3.5"
Sub: 15.4" x 7.5" x 15.13"
|Bar: 2.6" x 35.5" x 3.5"
Sub: 15.4" x 7.5" x 15.13""
|2.13" x 35" x 5.13"||Bar: 2.1" x 33.9" x 2.9"
Sub: 13.5" x 7.1" x 10.7"
|External Subwoofer||Yes||Yes||No (optional)||No (optional)||Yes|
|Inputs (wired)||Digital audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC), 3.5mm AUX VA, 3.5mm AUX, USB||Digitcal audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC)||Digital audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC), 3.5mm AUX||Digital audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC), HDMI in, USB (update only), Ethernet, Subwoofer out||Digital audio in (optical), USB|
|Supported Audio File Formats||DTS||Dolby Digital, Dolby Dual mono, LPCM 2ch||Dolby||Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS Digital Surround||Dolby 2ch, DTS 2ch|
|Voice Assistants||None, but has a dedicated 3.5mm AUX port to connect a VA device||n/a||n/a||Alexa||n/a|
|App||n/a||n/a||n/a||Yamaha Sound Bar||n/a|
|Syncs with:||None||None||Bose Simplesync enabled speakers||None||Samsung Wireless Surround Rear Speakers|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Vizio V-Series 2.1 Home Theater Sound Bar is loaded with useful features and can connect to your smart speaker via an aux port or Bluetooth connection. It's surprisingly immersive thanks to its DTS Virtual:X support and satellite subwoofer, and while it can't match the sound quality of some of the high-end models, it holds its own against similarly priced soundbars and even a few pricier ones.
Sound Quality is our most heavily weighted metric, and a weak point for the Vizio V-Series 2.1, but its performance here isn't bad. It's even commendable considering its price point. While true audiophiles will quickly recognize its shortcomings, folks trying to save some cash after purchasing a big flatscreen will find it a satisfying and affordable option.
The combination of DTS Virtual:X and the fact that the subwoofer is designed to be placed behind the audience makes for a satisfyingly immersive home theater experience. We loved watching loud, high-energy action movies with this soundbar. DTS Virtual:X convincingly simulates sounds from different heights, while the bass rumbling behind you makes for a hair-raising experience. Unfortunately, the bass isn't well defined, and it can be overwhelming at times. When we turned down the bass and switched to the dialogue enhancement mode, dialogue became easier to understand, but it also sounds a bit thin and noticeably lower quality than the more expensive models from Bose and Sonos.
When listening to music, this soundbar is bass-heavy, with the highs sounding somewhat harsh. Of the soundbars we tested, this one is far from the best standalone music player despite its multiple connectivity options. However, it's powerful enough to fill a large living room with sound, so it's totally capable of driving impromptu dance parties but isn't great for critical listening.
Ease of Use
The Vizio V-Series 2.1 Home Theater Sound Bar sets up quickly and has an intuitive set of controls, while providing just enough settings to optimize it to your home and listening preferences.
It took our testers approximately 9 minutes to get this soundbar out of the box, set up, and ready to enjoy (not including popcorn popping). Plugging in the HDMI ARC connection to the television and connecting the soundbar and subwoofer to power is all you need to do to get going, as the subwoofer automatically connects to the soundbar via Bluetooth. On the bar are buttons for power, input, volume, and Bluetooth, while deeper customization settings can be found on the remote, which has a mini display for toggling through presets and EQ settings.
The Vizio V-Series 2.1 offers a variety of options for connecting your TV, projector, or BlueTooth enabled device, plus some low-tech options like a 3.5mm stereo mini-jack and USB connection to play WAV files off of a hard drive. For the TV, there's an HDMI ARC connection, or you can free up your TV's HDMI port and use the optical connection. This model is not WiFi-enabled, but it has a wired work-around. If you'd like to use a voice assistant you can connect it via the aux port or with Bluetooth. The soundbar will automatically lower the volume when you're interacting with the voice assistant, but it's not as responsive as other models that connect via WiFi or have Chromecast or Alexa built-in.
This model has an impressive amount of customization settings, and while it stops well short of having a full band of EQ adjustments, it provides quite a bit more adjustment than other models in its class. Via the included remote, we were able to toggle through different levels of bass and treble, and even independently adjust the subwoofer.
Presets are numerous and useful. You can turn off the DTS Virtual:X and enable the TruVolume mode that makes for more consistent, less dynamic volume levels. Additionally, there is a night mode that lowers the bass levels so as not to disturb sleeping kids or the neighbors.
With a max volume of 95 decibels (according to our independent measurement), this soundbar has no problem filling the average-to-larger-than-average-sized living room. The additional subwoofer adds plenty of extra power to the mix, though as previously mentioned, it's fairly muddy and ill-defined.
The three internal speakers are protected by a combination of plastic and cloth mesh, and the whole soundbar looks pretty slick and unassuming. Dust is easy to clean off the plastic, and a lint roller works well for cleaning the cloth-mesh covering. At 2.28" tall, this model won't obstruct your TV, though some consideration may be needed when it comes to the 9.9" x 8.25" x 8.25" subwoofer. While it isn't huge, Vizio recommends putting the subwoofer behind the viewer, so you'll need some space plus a way to run the power cord to the speaker.
Vizio V-Series 2.1 Home Theater Sound Bar is a screaming deal. It has many useful features usually reserved for much more expensive models, including the well-implemented DTS Virtual:X codec support. While the sound quality admittedly is not on par with the higher-end soundbars in our review, the V-Series 2.1 sounds better than most of the other soundbars in its price range, with the subwoofer adding an additional level of immersiveness, all for under two hundred bucks. If you're on a tight budget, we can't recommend this model enough.
This soundbar brings all the big sounds, immersive sounds (and the fun) of a home theater system for significantly less money than high-end competitors and is perfect for someone who wants to upgrade their sound system to something worthy of a big beautiful flat screen. While dedicated audio junkies will find plenty to gripe about, we're willing to bet that family movie night will be all squeals and smiles.
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