Vizio 42 Inch 5.1 Home Theater Sound Bar

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Vizio 42 Inch 5.1 Home Theater Sound Bar

CNET Editors’ Rating 11 user reviews The Good The Vizio S4251w-B4 sound bar includes two rear speakers, allowing it to deliver a real surround-sound experience from a sound bar system. Its smart design lets you to connect the rear speakers to the wireless subwoofer in the back of the room, which minimizes the wire clutter that often accompanies surround sound. The sound bar itself has a stylish look, with a great remote that includes a built-in display. Features are well-covered, too, with built-in Bluetooth and Dolby/DTS decoding. And it’s a good value, considering it includes two additional speakers. The Bad The sound bar may block your TV’s remote sensor when used in tabletop position. Also, if you use your TV to switch inputs, you likely won’t get the best possible surround experience, although most listeners won’t notice. And there’s no guided speaker calibration, so you’ll need to rely on your own ears for setup. The Bottom Line Vizio’s S4251w-B4 sports rear speakers for unparalleled home theater sonics from a sound bar, although it has some quirks. 8.1 Overall Design 7.0 Features 8.0 Sound 9.0 Value 8.0

Vizio 42 Inch 5.1 Home Theater Sound Bar

The Good The Vizio S4251w-B4 sound bar includes two rear speakers, allowing it to deliver a real surround-sound experience from a sound bar system. Its smart design lets you to connect the rear speakers to the wireless subwoofer in the back of the room, which minimizes the wire clutter that often accompanies surround sound. The sound bar itself has a stylish look, with a great remote that includes a built-in display. Features are well-covered, too, with built-in Bluetooth and Dolby/DTS decoding. And it’s a good value, considering it includes two additional speakers. The Bad The sound bar may block your TV’s remote sensor when used in tabletop position. Also, if you use your TV to switch inputs, you likely won’t get the best possible surround experience, although most listeners won’t notice. And there’s no guided speaker calibration, so you’ll need to rely on your own ears for setup. The Bottom Line Vizio’s S4251w-B4 sports rear speakers for unparalleled home theater sonics from a sound bar, although it has some quirks.

Vizio 42 Inch 5.1 Home Theater Sound Bar

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It is important to note that Vizio has ended it almost 3-year production run of the S4251w-B4, so it may not be available past Spring of 2016. For more current offerings, refer to Vizio's Official Sound Bar pages, as well as addition sound and all-in-one home theater system suggestions from my current listing of Sound Bars/Digital Sound Projectors and Home Theater-in-a-Box Systems – both of which are updated periodically.

Vizio 42 Inch 5.1 Home Theater Sound Bar

The sound bar itself has a particularly refined look. Vizio has a penchant for glossy black finishes that tend toward tacky, so the S4251w-B4’s understated matte black look is a welcome change. It’s pretty much a “nothing-but-speaker” look from the front, with just a thin strip of black sitting under the grille. It’s not a particularly thin design at 3.15 inches, but it lends the S4251w-B4 a substantial (but not bulky) feel that implies that the Vizio is built for performance. It doesn’t quite have the build quality of the Sonos Playbar, but it feels better constructed than any previous Vizio sound bar.

Vizio 42 Inch 5.1 Home Theater Sound Bar

The subwoofer pairs with a press of a button, followed by doing the same to the control behind the left side of the sound bar until white LEDs on the front blinked a total of three times. The bar and sub were now connected, but more importantly, I would now be able to get surround sound since the satellites are “fed” by the sub. Of course this wouldn’t work if the VIZIO S4251w-B4 42″ 5.1 Home Theater Sound Bar couldn’t decode a Dolby Digital or DTS Digital Surround 5.1 digital audio signal (it can). But since most TV outputs aren’t multichannel, the Sony being one, I had to connect the optical cable directly from the sound bar to the Blu-ray player. That’s no big deal, especially as there’s  another digital input on the sound bar (coaxial) along with analog inputs, should you need to connect something else.

Vizio 42 Inch 5.1 Home Theater Sound Bar

Understanding how consumers interact with their sound bars, VIZIO’s flagship 42″ 5.1 Home Theater Sound Bar features a remote with built-in LCD display, making it easy to control volume and settings from a distance. This new Display Remote eliminates the need to squint across the room to view current input, adjust bass or enable the built-in DTS audio technologies. The added convenience of built-in Bluetooth support also gives consumers the ability to stream music to their VIZIO sound bar directly from Bluetooth-enabled smart phones, tablets or other audio playback devices.

Vizio 42 Inch 5.1 Home Theater Sound Bar

The Vizio S4251w-B4 ($330 list) is one of the very few sound bar systems on the market that can deliver true surround sound, precisely because it augments the traditional sound bar/subwoofer configuration with two rear speakers. The combination delivers some of the best sound we’ve heard from a budget sound bar, and nothing at this price competes in terms of immersive home theater sound. The rest of the package is polished, too, with a tasteful design, built-in Bluetooth, and a minimalist, innovative remote with a built-in display.

Vizio 42 Inch 5.1 Home Theater Sound Bar

I’m beginning to believe that I might owe Vizio an apology. Somewhere in the miasmic swirl of mistaken notions and half-baked prejudices that exists inside my head, I’ve ignorantly clung to the idea that Vizio is near-single-handedly culpable for all the woes that plague the AV world. “They’re nothing but mass-market whores who couldn’t care less about picture or, especially, sound quality,” I often mumbled to myself. Of course, it’s easy to understand why I came to that conclusion when you learn that the majority of my experience with Vizio gear has come from quick glances at “stack ’em deep” displays in the zoo-like atmosphere of the local Sam’s Club.

The Good The Vizio S4251w-B4 sound bar includes two rear speakers, allowing it to deliver a real surround-sound experience from a sound bar system. Its smart design lets you to connect the rear speakers to the wireless subwoofer in the back of the room, which minimizes the wire clutter that often accompanies surround sound. The sound bar itself has a stylish look, with a great remote that includes a built-in display. Features are well-covered, too, with built-in Bluetooth and Dolby/DTS decoding. And it’s a good value, considering it includes two additional speakers.

Featuring a wireless subwoofer that can sit up to 60′ feet away and rear satellite speakers that easily connect to the subwoofer, the 5.1 Home Theater Sound Bar envelops the living room in immersive, true cinematic audio. Complete with Dolby Digital® and DTS Digital Surround™ audio technologies, the sound bar matches superior sound to great picture thanks to 102 dB of crystal clear, room shaking audio with less than 1% Total Harmonic Distortion**. Additionally, DTS Circle Surround™ upgrades standard stereo content from the listeners favorite band or artist, resulting in 5.1 surround sound playback. Ideal for medium to large sized HDTVs, VIZIO’s newest audio solution sports a stylish design, comes with all the cables needed to connect to your TV and conveniently mounts under screens as a seamless extension of the entertainment experience.

What Vizio has done here is admirable. Yes, low-spoken dialogue sounds like it’s being delivered by a disaffected teenager. But for south of four Benjamins, Vizio has created a system centered around a sound bar that actually provides real surround sound.

“The new 42″ 5.1 Home Theater Sound Bar has been engineered to project 102dB of sound with very low distortion, further ensuring audio is heard as the artist intended,” said John Schindler, VIZIO VP of Product Management. “As one of the only 5.1 sound bars on the market, our award-winning 42″ model is a great value, featuring a wireless subwoofer that offers room-shaking bass performance going down to 40Hz, satellite speakers for rich, immersive audio and Bluetooth so you can stream music from your smartphone or tablet and enjoy it in 5.1 surround sound without even turning on the TV.”

The sound bar option for getting better sound for TV viewing has taken off like gangbusters the past couple of years, and new models appear on store shelves on a regular basis. One of the newest entries is the Vizio S4251w-B4, which adds a little twist. Although the sound bar is main attraction, the S4251w-B4 also includes both a wireless subwoofer and two surround speakers, thus making this a full 5.1 channel surround sound system that is easy to set up and use.

It’s not an issue if you’ll be wall-mounting the sound bar, and you can also work around the issue by using a small TV riser (or a couple of books) to boost the TV above the sound bar. Still, potential buyers may want to locate their TV’s remote sensor and break out the tape measure; again, the S4251w-B4’s sound bar stands 3.74 inches tall. It would have been nice if Vizio included a remote control signal pass-through feature, included on the competing Sony HT-CT260.

Sound bars have started to look all alike: there’s this bar with a set of speakers inside that connects to an audio output from a TV or Blu-ray player or cable box. And in some cases a wireless subwoofer unit is part of the mix. So right from the start VIZIO’s S4251w-B4 42″ 5.1 Home Theater Sound Bar stands out. And yeah, it sounds good too, in case you wondered, so read on for our expert soundbar review.

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