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Vizio SB36512-F6B Review

If you thought bringing the premium cinema experience into your home is going to cost you a lot of money, you thought wrong. While cheap soundbars won’t deliver the quality you want and expensive surround-sound systems are simply out of the question, you don’t have to give up that home theater dream. The Vizio SB36512-F6B Soundbar Home Theater Sound System hits that sweet spot in between – it’s affordable yet it delivers great sound quality for the full entertainment experience.

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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 that exceeds expectations. The Vizio SB36512-F6B has built-in upward-firing speakers, flexible connectivity options, and a compact design.  While most Dolby Atmos systems cost above $1000, you can buy the Vizio SB36512-F6B for $499. You can also get Amazon refurbished units for a much cheaper price yet with the same quality.

Keep reading this Vizio SB36512-F6B review to find out if this rig is right for you. 

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

Features

Design

At 36 inches, the Vizio SB36512-F6B is narrower than most Atmos-ready systems. Nevertheless, the compact design doesn’t degrade the sound quality and fits in easily in smaller rooms. The soundbar pretty much has all the buttons and ports you need. Physical buttons located at the top has functions such as power, volume, and Bluetooth pairing. 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. Wireless functions include Bluetooth, Chromecast, and a built-in WiFi. Definitely, the connectivity choices provided in this Vizio unit gives you more flexibility in operations. 

Aside from the soundbar, the Vizio SB36512-F6B has two rear speakers and a subwoofer. They’re both consistent with the overall look and feel of the set. There’s nothing much to say when it comes to their design, so let’s just talk about their performance further on in this Vizio SB36512-F6B review. 

A negative point in the design is the lack of LCD screen in the main bar. We would’ve expected even a small display to help users know what’s going on. Instead, you’ll find a stack of LED dots in the front that flash different colors and patterns depending on what’s happening. This can be difficult to see at a distance, and memorizing LED patterns is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, there’s a one-liner LCD screen on the remote. While this might be Vizio’s way of compromising for the missing screen, the remote’s display is dimly lit and hard to see in low-light conditions. 

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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; 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. The wireless subwoofer 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, is an absolute star. If you love room-shaking bass, the subwoofer is a high-performing beast that will immerse you in that authentic Dolby Atmos experience. Action scenes will feel much more realistic and your regular movie nights will have more dimension and depth like you’ve never experienced before. 

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 and missing that 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. The little audio details will be amplified with precision and richness to deliver that powerful and moving entertainment experience. 

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.

PROS:

  • True Dolby Atmos surround sound
  • Solid subwoofer
  • Upward-firing speakers
  • Easy to set up
  • Great value for the money

CONS:

  • Rear speakers should be hardwired to the subwoofer
  • No LCD Screen
  • App is buggy

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. 

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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 Review
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