Vizio V21 review: Best budget soundbar of 2020 so far

Irrespective of its ridiculous name, I was very jazzed about the Vizio SB3621n-E8 soundbar when it came out in 2017. It was a great-sounding, economical soundbar and has remained my favored price around the past three decades. The Vizio V21 reviewed here is its purely natural successor and enjoys a amount of updates beyond a less difficult name. The new bar provides HDMI, modifications the cosmetics and features an intriguing intelligent speaker link.


  • Superb house cinema seem on a spending budget
  • DTS Digital:X increases immersion
  • Adaptable connectivity, with HDMI ARC

Do not Like

  • Subwoofer is smaller and not quite articulate
  • Voice assistant link not tremendous handy

The seem good quality is as unhurried and purely natural as in advance of, but the level of competition is considerably harder these days. Polk and Yamaha have been snapping at Vizio’s heels for several decades, and products like the new Polk Signa S3 offer even greater seem for a bit additional revenue.

If you want to update your TV’s seem for under $200, the Vizio V21 need to be between your best selections, and it will enjoy again tunes in fine manner much too. It is not very as shocking or energizing as the first SB3621, but which is alright. The V21 stands on its individual deserves as a reliable speaker at an fantastic price. 

Vizio V21 ports, characteristics and distant


The best panel.

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Soundbars are black blobs for the most component, heard and not noticed, and the V21 follows the business template to the letter: essential black with a mesh include and a marginally textured plastic best. The topside also gives a sequence of controls like input choice, Bluetooth and quantity regulate. 

Although the duration of the soundbar is no extended in the name, as with the SB3621 (Sound Bar, 36 inches, two.1 channel… get it?) the Vizio V21 is also 36 inches long. That name continue to consists of a lame Easter egg, however, due to the fact this is a two.1-channel soundbar.

The wireless subwoofer that arrives with the process is a roughly eight-inch cube — now black rather of silver — and it characteristics a down-firing driver and rear port.


The LED now modifications color according to the input.

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Just after decades of complaints (at the very least from me), Vizio has updated the soundbar’s LED exhibit. In its place of an inscrutable sequence of white dots the exhibit can now alter color according to the input and signify quantity degree by ascending vertically. It is properly usable, despite the fact that a traditional alphanumeric exhibit would be even clearer.

The most noteworthy addition is the HDMI ARC port. This connector permits you to hook up a person cable specifically to the ARC port on the again of your Television set, and it’s finest if you just use the streaming characteristics created into the Television set by itself, or use the Television set to swap involving inputs. If you have a additional complex process, for example an external streamer, you can use the bar’s optical link. Other options contain Bluetooth, USB, a 3.5mm analog input and one more, all-new 3.5mm link for your “voice assistant speaker” (go through: Amazon Echo Dot ($forty at Amazon)).


Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The strategy driving the “VA” (voice activated) input is noble sufficient. You hook up your intelligent speaker to this port and the soundbar switches to the input quickly when it hears a command. But the main difficulty is that you then need to have to use your distant to swap again to one more supply manually. 

I’m confident Vizio is making an attempt to cater to people today who want to use their Dot as a tunes or podcast supply and take advantage of the V21’s excellent seem. In my practical experience, however, switching again to HDMI or optical to use the V21 with one more supply — like the Television set or a recreation console — quickly turned aggravating.


Ty Pendlebury/CNET

That distant is practical and fairly quick to use, even if you need to have to recall to use the up and down buttons to regulate the sub quantity rather of the additional purely natural quantity keys.

How does the Vizio V21 seem?

Due to the necessity of tests at house, I will not have a Vizio SB3621 for immediate comparisons, but the V21 is just as even-handed as I recall the earlier product currently being. In its place I in contrast the new $a hundred and eighty Vizio from a few of other 2020 products, the $250 Polk Signa S3 and the $three hundred JBL Bar two.1 Deep Bass, but it’s definitely worth trying to keep in head the major selling price distinctions.

Compared to these two merchandise, the Vizio’s key weapon is its DTS Digital:X compatibility. The feature, 1st noticed in Yamaha speakers, permits humble soundbars like the V21 to emulate a surround process, and it performs quite very well. Alas the JBL and Polk deficiency this include-on and so didn’t present the exact same degree of immersion.

Even though the even larger sub of the JBL Deep bass made available the finest bass articulation of the three, the JBL could not defeat the Vizio in Digital:X manner for immersion, specially when it came to the lobby scene in The Matrix. Bullets whizzed in the direction of me and the ratatatat that precedes the soldier’s “Freeze!” was additional pronounced on the Vizio than possibly the Polk or the JBL.

The bigger subs of the Polk and JBL greater served convey the gunfight’s impression, however. The Polk served up an fascinating and kinetic general performance, due in component to the bigger and additional articulate sub. The Vizio was overwhelmed by some of the lower notes in the synth-bass rating by comparison.

The Vizio’s expressive midrange produced movie dialog seem apparent and balanced. All through the thanator chase in Avatar (at 26:53), streaming from Disney Plus, the Vizio sounded sonically fuller than the Polk, which was a tiny hollow in comparison, with weaker, lessen midrange. Altering the Polk’s bass regulate and seem manner didn’t shore up the stability in a meaningful way.

The most-high-priced JBL Deep Bass two.1 was the most entertaining in this scene. The bigger sub was ready to capture additional of the lower frequency outcomes — from the pad of the thanator’s footfalls to the gentle roar of the waterfall — and the jungle sounded additional alive with bugs and working water.

With tunes, the Vizio didn’t seem as dynamic as possibly the JBL or the Polk, but continue to conveyed a genuine perception of stereo seem. The smooth handover to the subwoofer meant that acoustic tunes and male voices in specific sounded purely natural, despite the fact that the Polk was continue to marginally greater. When Ben Harper did his spooky “in your space issue” with his tune Widow of a Dwelling Man, a few of the lowest guitar notes on the Vizio bonged in a way that sounded out of location. There was a greater distinction involving the guitar and the voice on the Vizio, but I could not get the boom out even with the bass regulate at its lowest (there was a massive bounce involving and 1). The Polk was additional pleasurable general with tunes, with a greater take care of on dynamics and additional powerful bass general performance. It is the product to choose if you favor tunes around movies.

Need to you purchase the Vizio V21?

There is no these kinds of issue as a fantastic soundbar — due to dimension and spending budget constraints, their engineers need to have to make a amount of compromises. None of the three I examined in this comparison can present everything to every person. The Vizio and the JBL tend in the direction of house theater seem while the Polk’s main strength is tunes. In typical, the Vizio made available greater immersion than the other people and the Polk is the finest compromise involving the three products.

If you have $200 or much less, the Vizio is a great selection, with powerful bass and an expressive midrange. It is a fine follow-up to the SB3621 with the HDMI onboard in specific a welcome feature. I can’t say however how it will stack up from the finest soundbars of the calendar year, but there is certainly no denying it’s an fantastic price now.