Vizio V Collection 5.1 Soundbar

“Vizio’s V Collection 5.1 soundbar is an reasonably priced approach so as to add good encompass sound”

Easy setup

Immersive encompass sound

Heat music copy

Middle channel is a weak hyperlink

Some lackluster “options”

For greater than a decade now, Vizio’s stance in terms of soundbars has persistently been about offering oodles of worth with out breaking the financial institution. When you have been out there to improve the sound of your tv with out making an enormous funding, Vizio was usually the most effective place to look.

Effectively, regardless of all of us dwelling within the upside-down world that’s the yr 2020, at the very least that one factor has not modified. Vizio’s new $250 V-Collection 5.1 soundbar system is a cut price encompass sound setup — even when it did take a number of too many cost-saving measures this time round.

Out of the field

I’ll all the time be keen on how simple Vizio makes it to arrange a soundbars. I used to be in no rush as I linked it up for testing, but when I have been racing a clock, I’d wager I might go from unboxing to listening to music inside a span of 10 minutes.

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The system contains the bar itself, a pair of encompass sound audio system, and a wi-fi subwoofer. Admittedly, there’s not a ton right here to sluggish you down. However it actually is only a matter of plugging your bar and subwoofer into energy, making a bodily connection between the bar and your show, operating the included speaker wire from the encompass sound audio system to the subwoofer, and powering all the pieces up.

From there, the bar will mechanically seek for a content-producing enter. Be able to act shortly and join your telephone through Bluetooth or stream one thing in your TV, as a result of the Vizio voice immediate does get outdated after the primary few instances it proclaims that it’s trying to find an enter.

Past that minor annoyance, that’s it. There’s no Wi-Fi to configure with this bar – one thing we’ll contact extra on later – and there aren’t every other setup hoops to leap by way of. It’s in all probability as near plug-and-play as a soundbar system can get.

Design

Vizio says it took a low-profile method to this yr’s new price range system, which can be a little bit of an understatement. The bar itself isn’t extremely completely different from latest soundbars which have sat on my media stand: At 36 inches lengthy, it’s simply two inches shorter than the Sony HT-G700 that sat there earlier than it.

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The rear audio system and subwoofer, although, are petite. The sub enclosure homes a 5-inch woofer, and the audio system are simply dwarfed by some older Vizio rears I dug up for comparability. The dimensions actually made me nervous that Vizio had presumably gone too compact (are we making a house theater for ants?) and sacrificed sound within the course of. However, as we’ll get to, the system packs a punch for its measurement.

There are three drivers within the bar, one for every of the entrance left, heart, and proper channels in a 5.1 system. Head to the rear of the soundbar, and you might be met with a number of connections. There’s a retro three.5mm stereo audio enter (the nice ol’ purple and white inputs), in addition to an optical port, an HDMI ARC port, a three.5mm auxiliary enter, and a USB port that Vizio says will solely assist WAV and MP3 codecs.

Would I’ve favored to see Vizio drop the old-school stereo audio inputs in alternate for one more HDMI port? Sure. Is that this a reasonably stable lineup of connections for the worth, regardless? Additionally, sure. Simply be suggested that sure connections will restrict your sound format choices. The stereo inputs, clearly, will solely produce two-channel sound. You may get encompass sound from the digital optical connection, however you’ll miss out on the DTS Digital:X format with which the V-Collection is supplied.

The usual Vizio soundbar distant will get a refresh, too, adopting a barely extra rounded, mild method than its extra brick-like older relative. The brand new distant appears extra purposeful as properly, with buttons for EQ, Setup, Stage, and Impact all accessible that will help you toy with sound settings. I used to be by no means an enormous fan of these outdated Vizio remotes, and it looks as if Vizio is shifting in the fitting route right here with one thing that jogs my memory of my Nvidia Defend clicker.

Options

There are a number of reliable options constructed into this bar, however a number of issues which are “technically” options are oddly overdressed by Vizio advertising to be way more essential than they really are.

Nick Woodard/Digital Tendencies

Your choices for streaming music are Bluetooth — and solely Bluetooth. And that’s simply fantastic. The connection was stable, and the sound was good. However with all of the strides Bluetooth know-how is making, Wi-Fi continues to be the king for streaming audio, and bars just like the Yamaha YAS-209 have confirmed it’s potential to have that sort of characteristic in a price range bar.

The V-Collection bar does have a helpful characteristic referred to as Entrance Encompass Mode for these setups the place placing encompass audio system behind the room simply isn’t potential. This workaround includes placing the rear audio system on both aspect of the soundbar and shifting the subwoofer to the entrance of the room, then accessing Entrance Encompass Mode through your distant. Vizio says the bar will make the most of DTS Digital:X to create digital encompass sound on this configuration. The result’s satisfactory, however there’s a cause it describes having audio system on the rear of the room because the “best setup.”

Then there are issues like Twin Stereo Mode – an instance of what we described as “technically” a characteristic – which sends the identical audio to all 5 audio system. This characteristic works, to be clear, I’m simply undecided when this might be wanted or wished. Film watching is usually finest with common encompass, the place the entrance left, heart, and proper deal with dialogue and motion and the rears deal with background noise. And music listening is actually designed for stereo left and proper sound. So whereas Twin Stereo Mode is purposeful, there’s not an excellent time to make use of it.

Vizio additionally touts its soundbar as “voice assistant prepared” due to its auxiliary port and Bluetooth connectivity. That’s whole advertising communicate: If this soundbar is considered “voice assistant prepared” by that commonplace, then so is each fashionable speaker, receiver, and even TV with those self same two connection choices. Sure, you’ll be able to join an Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant gadget to the soundbar, and it’ll ship audio by way of the system. However truly being “voice assistant prepared” ought to imply possessing a Wi-Fi connection and providing direct management by these sensible units. With this terminology, Vizio is dressing its in any other case commonplace connections as much as be one thing they aren’t.

To be truthful to Vizio, there’s a operate that permits the voice assistant to be energetic on the bar even when the soundbar is enjoying audio from a special enter, and the bar will auto-mute different sources so the assistant will be heard. It additionally does the identical factor when you may have a telephone that’s linked by way of Bluetooth — sadly, you’ll be able to unintentionally get TikTok movies blaring over your film audio.

Audio high quality

Just a few hundred phrases in the past, I teased how enamored I used to be about such small merchandise just like the Vizio sub and rear audio system creating such important sound — and there’s a lot of reality to that. For a stable week, I’ve been throwing completely different content material at it — from every kind of music to numerous Netflix documentaries and TV exhibits, plus the occasional Marvel film and a watch (or two) of Hamilton — and I can confidently say that the majority people who purchase this bar will likely be utterly content material with this sort and high quality of encompass sound.

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It has all the essential components that make for a very good encompass setup. The entrance stage successfully captures motion scenes, the rear audio system add satisfactory immersion, and the sub, whereas solely rated all the way down to 50 Hz, has rumbled sufficient to elicit a random bark from my beforehand deeply asleep canine. I used to be pleasantly shocked with music listening too, because the Vizio bar produced a typically heat sound that was balanced sufficient to be pleasing.

General, it’s the sound you need to count on from a $250 bundle. However this bar is actually not with out its quirks. Chief amongst them, from my expertise, is the seemingly lackluster heart channel. When watching vocally dominant content material, like Netflix’s comedy collection The Degenerates or the Right down to Earth docuseries, it wasn’t a lot of a problem. However when switching to motion sequences in Guardians of the Galaxy, or the busier elements of Hamilton, the dialogue simply couldn’t sustain with all the pieces else that was taking place within the scene.

You possibly can flip each the middle channel and dialogue up particularly by way of the Vizio distant, and that does assist to a level. However it’s clear that with some content material, the middle is solely outmatched in comparison with the remainder of the sound generated by the system. Moreover, I wasn’t an enormous fan of the completely different EQ presets — which incorporates the Film and Music choices which you could toggle between with the distant — as they seemingly bloated the audio. Primarily, these EQ settings cranked all of the frequencies up, which makes the motion a bit of extra boomy, however so much much less refined. Listening within the Direct Mode was preferable to me.

DTS Digital:X is accessible on this soundbar, too. Primarily the much less fashionable various to Dolby Atmos, DTS Digital:X is meant to have the ability to add virtualized 3D sound to any audio that’s being despatched the soundbar’s approach. It’s additionally presupposed to work with almost any configuration of audio system, and whereas I did expertise a extra immersive expertise with it turned on, it wasn’t one thing my important different might discover with out me pointing it out. This consequence is sensible, as a result of with all the pieces digital applied sciences can promise they’ll create by way of audio, you’ll be able to solely achieve this a lot with simply three front-firing drivers.

Along with having the ability to change the degrees of the dialogue and heart, you may as well modify the bass, treble, subwoofer, encompass degree, and encompass stability. Whereas this sound might have its faults, it was a sensible transfer by Vizio to make the bar’s audio sufficiently customizable to please the palates of most individuals.

Our take

Vizio’s new 5.1 soundbar system might not be the easiest way so as to add encompass sound to your setup – that occurs to be a conventional residence theater, by the way in which – however it’s as soon as once more probably the most crowd-pleasing. With the respectable options and good sound that it tosses into the combination, the V-Collection is a price for the plenty.

Are there higher options?

In truth, it’s laborious to seek out one other bar on this value vary that provides a full 5.1 system with a subwoofer and rear audio system. The Yamaha YAS-209 continues to be our favourite bar for its versatility, options, and sound, however it doesn’t characteristic encompass audio system and presently prices a bit extra at $300. I do desire the sound of the Sony HT-G700, although I don’t desire it’s almost $600 price ticket.

How lengthy will it final?

Not solely are they cheap, however Vizio soundbars appear to have a knack for longevity. They carry a reasonably commonplace one-year guarantee, however the Vizio system I purchased for my dad and mom eight years in the past continues to be kicking to today. I can’t assure this bar may have the identical shelf life, however it ought to stick round for some time.

Do you have to purchase it?

Sure. You actually can’t get true 5.1 sound at this value wherever else. Even when you do must fine-tune the audio and grapple with the shortage of significant options, the Vizio V Collection 5.1 soundbar is undoubtedly a fantastic deal.

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