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Vizio SB36512-F6B Soundbar Review

Vizio SB36512-F6B Review

When purchasing a cheap soundbar, you always risk buying one that doesn’t live up to expectations. However, that doesn’t mean you should give up your home theater dream. The Vizio SB36512-F6B Soundbar Home Theater Sound System hits that sweet spot in between – it’s affordable yet delivers great sound quality.

Pros

  • True Dolby Atmos surround sound that offer a cinematic-like audio experience
  • Solid subwoofer with a thunderous bass
  • Easy to set up right out of the box even for non-tech people
  • Upward-firing speakers
  • Great value for the money

Cons

  • Wired connection between speakers and subwoofer; however, a long cable is provided
  • Menu button is unnoticeable in the remote; it's better to download the app
Equipped with no less than Dolby Atmos technology, the Vizio SB36512-F6B provides an immersive audio experience with sounds that move above and all around you. 
 
Even with just a main bar, two rear speakers, and one subwoofer, you get to experience true surround sound for that full entertainment experience. Some of the great things about the Vizio SB36512-F6B are its built-in upward-firing speakers, flexible connectivity options, and compact design.  

What's In The Box?

  • Soundbar
  • 2 Satellite Speakers
  • Subwoofer
  • HDMI Cable
  • Remote & Batteries
  • Power Cables (x2)
  • Satellite Speaker Audio Cables (x2)
  • Stereo RCA to 3.5mm Audio Cable
  • 3.5mm to 3.5mm Audio Cable
  • Digital Optical Cable
  • Wall-mounting screws and brackets
  • Manual

While most Dolby Atmos systems cost above $1000, you can buy the Vizio SB36512-F6B for less than $500. Plus, you can also get Amazon refurbished units for a much cheaper price yet with the same quality.

At this price point, this soundbar from Vizio provides better sound than most of its competitors. With that, let’s dive in to the advantages and drawbacks of the Vizio SB36512-F6B.

Features

Design

At 36 inches, the Vizio SB36512-F6B is narrower than most Atmos-ready systems. Nevertheless, same as with other models in this series, the compact design doesn’t degrade the sound quality.

The soundbar pretty much has all the buttons and ports you need. Physical buttons located at the top include functions such as power, volume, and Bluetooth pairing. Although a remote comes with the unit, having onboard buttons is useful in case you lost the small device.

At the back of the bar, you’ll find a variety of connectivity options including HDMI, coaxial connector, USB port for WAV playback, 3.5mm analog input jack, and an Ethernet port. As for wireless functions, you have  Bluetooth, Chromecast, and a built-in WiFi.

As you can see, the connectivity choices in this Vizio unit gives you more flexibility in operations. Setup is made easier as well, but more on this later.

Aside from the soundbar itself, the Vizio SB36512-F6B has two rear speakers and a subwoofer. They’re both consistent with the overall look and feel of the set, so you don’t have to worry about aesthetics. 

While it would have been great to have an LCD screen on the main bar or even a small sound bar display, Vizio added a stack of LED dots in the front that flash different colors and patterns depending on what’s happening. These indicators can give info at a glance.

And as Vizio’s way of compromising for the missing screen, they added a one-liner LCD screen on the remote. On one hand, this could potentially be more useful if the user has poor eyesight and can’t see the LCD screen if it’s on the soundbar.

Setup

While other home theater systems can be frustrating to install in your home, the Vizio SB36512-F6B is one of the easiest to set up

The connectors and cables are color-coded and clearly labeled, so you might not even need a manual to get this entire surround sound system up and running. Simply connect the included HDMI cable from the ARC-enabled HDMI port to the appropriate TV HDMI port. 

As for the wireless subwoofer, it does connect wirelessly to the main bar like in most systems, but the satellite speakers have to be hardwired to the subwoofer itself. 

While this may not be ideal for the sub placement, the 25+ feet cable should be enough to go around the room. The wired connection may be a sacrifice for the setup, but it’s not much of a deal-breaker considering what the Vizio SB36512-F6B brings to the table.

Performance

For a $500 surround sound home theater system, the Vizio SB36512-F6B gives astonishingly superb audio that easily matches some of the more expensive models. 

The upward-firing speakers in the main bar create the signature Atmos sphere effect by bouncing the sound off the ceiling and beaming it down into the room. The satellite speakers don’t perform as much as the soundbar, but they still give that extra oomph to complete the ambiance. 

The 6-inch subwoofer, on the other hand, delivers the low-frequency tones with depth and resonance. If you love room-shaking bass, the subwoofer is a high-performing beast that provides that authentic Dolby Atmos experience. In our tests, the action scenes felt much more realistic, giving more dimension and depth to the bottom end.

Movies on the Vizio SB36512-F6B are a total delight, but performance in the music side could do with some improvements. The bass is more dominant and the music sounds plainly loud, missing the finer aspects and dimension.

Overall, the Vizio SB36512-F6B delivers clarity, great sound quality, and immersive accurate imaging. You’ll be able to hear sounds move all around you in a three-dimensional space. Furthermore, the little audio details in movies will be amplified with precision and richness for that powerful and moving entertainment experience. 

SmartCast

Before we end this Vizio SB36512-F6B review, we’d like to briefly discuss an important feature of the soundbar, which is the SmartCast.

An extension of the built-in Chromecast, the SmartCast app allows you to control the soundbar’s settings and act as a remote for your Vizio SB36512-F6B. You can also cast content from your phone to the soundbar. 

However, we find that it’s not as reliable and doesn’t give instant feedback on the soundbar’s status. For streaming purposes, it’d be better to use the built-in Chromecast or the Bluetooth function.

FAQS

Does the Vizio SB36512-F6B have 4K pass through?

Yes, this soundbar supports 4K HDR passthrough.

What should I buy along with this soundbar to setup a home theatre?

Users often purchase components separately, so if you’re gonna set up a home theater, don’t go for one package. For this soundbar, you might want to add a receiver, an amplifier, and individual speakers.

Vizio SB36512-F6B Review Conclusion

The Vizio SB36512-F6B Soundbar provides great value for the money. It provides authentic Dolby Atmos surround sound, plenty of connectivity options, and amazing overall performance. 

Though it may not be a top of the line model, the Vizio SB36512-F6B is a solid system for an affordable price

Expect more from your Vizio soundbar? Vizio SB3621N-F8M might just convince you to take the leap.

Willie Greer

Willie Greer is the founder of The Product Analyst. A cinephile, he has made it a personal quest to achieve the awesomest home theater possible. He now shares what he has learned through the years on the site, and has enlisted the help of tech-savvy colleagues in providing more insight about today’s most sought-after gadgets.
Willie Greer

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Vizio SB36512-F6B Soundbar Review
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