Vizio V21 review: Best budget soundbar of 2020 so far

Inspite of its absurd title, I was incredibly jazzed about the Vizio SB3621n-E8 soundbar when it came out in 2017. It was a terrific-sounding, reasonably priced soundbar and has remained my favorite worth around the final a few a long time. The Vizio V21 reviewed below is its pure successor and enjoys a amount of updates further than a less complicated title. The new bar adds HDMI, alterations the cosmetics and consists of an intriguing clever speaker connection.


  • Fantastic household cinema seem on a budget
  • DTS Digital:X enhances immersion
  • Versatile connectivity, with HDMI ARC

Will not Like

  • Subwoofer is little and not very articulate
  • Voice assistant connection not super handy

The seem good quality is as unhurried and pure as ahead of, but the opposition is a great deal more durable these times. Polk and Yamaha have been snapping at Vizio’s heels for many a long time, and models like the new Polk Signa S3 offer even better seem for a bit far more cash.

If you want to up grade your TV’s seem for less than $two hundred, the Vizio V21 need to be among the your prime decisions, and it will perform back again tunes in high-quality trend too. It really is not rather as shocking or energizing as the authentic SB3621, but that’s alright. The V21 stands on its have merits as a trustworthy speaker at an superb worth. 

Vizio V21 ports, capabilities and remote


The prime panel.

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Soundbars are black blobs for the most aspect, read and not witnessed, and the V21 follows the business template to the letter: simple black with a mesh deal with and a somewhat textured plastic prime. The topside also features a collection of controls which include input assortment, Bluetooth and volume manage. 

Although the duration of the soundbar is no extended in the title, as with the SB3621 (Sound Bar, 36 inches, two.1 channel… get it?) the Vizio V21 is also 36 inches long. That title nevertheless incorporates a lame Easter egg, nonetheless, because this is a two.1-channel soundbar.

The wi-fi subwoofer that will come with the technique is a around eight-inch dice — now black in its place of silver — and it capabilities a down-firing driver and rear port.


The LED now alterations colour in accordance to the input.

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Immediately after a long time of grievances (at the very least from me), Vizio has current the soundbar’s LED show. As an alternative of an inscrutable collection of white dots the show can now improve colour in accordance to the input and signify volume amount by ascending vertically. It really is properly usable, despite the fact that a common alphanumeric show would be even clearer.

The most notable addition is the HDMI ARC port. This connector allows you to hook up a single cable immediately to the ARC port on the back again of your Tv, and it is really greatest if you just use the streaming capabilities built into the Tv alone, or use the Tv to change involving inputs. If you have a far more challenging technique, for example an exterior streamer, you can use the bar’s optical connection. Other alternatives involve Bluetooth, USB, a 3.5mm analog input and an additional, all-new 3.5mm connection for your “voice assistant speaker” (read through: Amazon Echo Dot ($forty at Amazon)).


Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The concept driving the “VA” (voice activated) input is noble adequate. You join your clever speaker to this port and the soundbar switches to the input routinely when it hears a command. But the main challenge is that you then need to have to use your remote to change back again to an additional supply manually. 

I am certain Vizio is seeking to cater to people who want to use their Dot as a tunes or podcast supply and choose advantage of the V21’s remarkable seem. In my working experience, nonetheless, switching back again to HDMI or optical to use the V21 with an additional supply — like the Tv or a match console — promptly grew to become frustrating.


Ty Pendlebury/CNET

That remote is functional and relatively straightforward to use, even if you need to have to try to remember to use the up and down buttons to manage the sub volume in its place of the far more pure volume keys.

How does the Vizio V21 seem?

Due to the requirement of screening at household, I don’t have a Vizio SB3621 for direct comparisons, but the V21 is just as even-handed as I try to remember the preceding model getting. As an alternative I in comparison the new $180 Vizio from a pair of other 2020 models, the $250 Polk Signa S3 and the $300 JBL Bar two.1 Deep Bass, but it is really certainly worth keeping in mind the important price variations.

In contrast to those people two goods, the Vizio’s solution weapon is its DTS Digital:X compatibility. The aspect, very first witnessed in Yamaha speakers, allows humble soundbars like the V21 to emulate a encompass technique, and it performs very nicely. Alas the JBL and Polk absence this add-on and so did not present the exact same amount of immersion.

Whilst the larger sub of the JBL Deep bass provided the greatest bass articulation of the a few, the JBL couldn’t defeat the Vizio in Digital:X manner for immersion, especially when it came to the foyer scene in The Matrix. Bullets whizzed towards me and the ratatatat that precedes the soldier’s “Freeze!” was far more pronounced on the Vizio than both the Polk or the JBL.

The bigger subs of the Polk and JBL better assisted convey the gunfight’s effects, nonetheless. The Polk served up an interesting and kinetic effectiveness, due in aspect to the bigger and far more articulate sub. The Vizio was confused by some of the very low notes in the synth-bass score by comparison.

The Vizio’s expressive midrange built movie dialog seem crystal clear and balanced. Throughout the thanator chase in Avatar (at 26:53), streaming from Disney In addition, the Vizio sounded sonically fuller than the Polk, which was a minor hollow in comparison, with weaker, decrease midrange. Modifying the Polk’s bass manage and seem manner did not shore up the stability in a significant way.

The most-costly JBL Deep Bass two.1 was the most enjoyable in this scene. The bigger sub was in a position to capture far more of the very low frequency results — from the pad of the thanator’s footfalls to the gentle roar of the waterfall — and the jungle sounded far more alive with insects and managing h2o.

With tunes, the Vizio did not seem as dynamic as both the JBL or the Polk, but nevertheless conveyed a real sense of stereo seem. The smooth handover to the subwoofer intended that acoustic tunes and male voices in distinct sounded pure, despite the fact that the Polk was nevertheless somewhat better. When Ben Harper did his spooky “in your room point” with his tune Widow of a Dwelling Guy, a pair of the lowest guitar notes on the Vizio bonged in a way that sounded out of place. There was a greater difference involving the guitar and the voice on the Vizio, but I couldn’t get the increase out even with the bass manage at its lowest (there was a significant bounce involving and 1). The Polk was far more pleasing all round with tunes, with a better handle on dynamics and far more effective bass effectiveness. It really is the model to pick if you favor tunes around films.

Should really you acquire the Vizio V21?

There is no these kinds of point as a ideal soundbar — due to measurement and budget constraints, their engineers need to have to make a amount of compromises. None of the a few I analyzed in this comparison can present every thing to everyone. The Vizio and the JBL have a tendency towards household theater seem when the Polk’s main strength is tunes. In basic, the Vizio provided better immersion than the other people and the Polk is the greatest compromise involving the a few models.

If you have $two hundred or considerably less, the Vizio is a terrific option, with effective bass and an expressive midrange. It really is a high-quality follow-up to the SB3621 with the HDMI onboard in distinct a welcome aspect. I won’t be able to say nonetheless how it will stack up from the greatest soundbars of the calendar year, but there is no denying it is really an superb worth now.