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.
What's In The Box?
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.
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.
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.
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.
See more of your options! We also reviewed the Yamaha ATS 1080 here.
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.
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.