Vizio M21D-H8 soundbar review: Huge sound, no subwoofer required

Vizio M21D-H8 soundbar review: In my reviews, soundbars that include subwoofers often sound better than standalone soundbars without a subwoofer, for one obvious reason: more bass. The subwoofer adds a lot of low-end impact and creates a fuller sound, but those big bass boxes take up a lot of space. What if you want a speaker that generates a great sound field and good bass, but only uses the space in front of your TV? The Vizio M21D-H8 is a great case for the single speaker system – it sounds huge but remains relatively compact.

Like it

  • Impressive sound from a single unit
  • Also great for TV shows and music
  • Two HDMI inputs
  • It supports Dolby Digital, DTS and DTS Virtual: X

I do not like

  • It costs almost as much as the best sounding Vizio V21
  • No deep bass to speak of

The Vizio’s sound quality is a huge step up from that of a TV, which you’d expect, and it makes my toes tap. It sounds good with most movies and music and is relatively easy to set up. Unlike almost every other single bar near this price, the Vizio M21 includes two HDMI ports, which really increases its flexibility. And there’s also Bluetooth streaming of your music.

At $ 150 the M21 is relatively affordable, although it doesn’t offer the visceral bass of subwoofer-equipped units around this price, like the Creative Stage V2 or The V21 Vizio. If you’re looking to ditch the subwoofer, however, there’s nothing in this price range that can challenge the Vizio M21 for compact size, excellent features, and full sound.



Go to one bar

Ty Pendlebury / HDOT

Soundbars aren’t typically known for their sheen, but I found the Vizio M21D-H8’s trapezoidal design to be quite striking. Call him Toblerone if you want, I certainly do, but Vizio clearly doesn’t care. Even though it looks similar to the SB362An-F6 replaces, the design has been simplified: the triangles on one side are now replaced by a single Vizio logo, for example. On the other side are the buttons for volume, source selection and Bluetooth.

This soundbar is 36 inches long and is designed to be placed in front of the TV, provided you have enough room for its 2 inch height, or it can be wall mounted (with two keyhole doors) to point towards the outside in your room. It includes six drivers including two woofers, two tweeters and a pair of integrated 3-inch “subwoofers”. However, there is no subwoofer output, so it is not possible to add a separate subwoofer later.

The M21 is equipped with a series of white LEDs that indicate volume and equalization 

Ty Pendlebury / HDOT

The front of the fabric-covered cabinet includes a colored LED to indicate the entrance and a series of white LEDs for the volume. It’s much better than the old system, which was practically incomprehensible, but still not as clear as a true alphanumeric display, for example.



Ty Pendlebury / HDOT

The back has a hollowed out section for the entrances alongside two holes for wall mounting. The biggest update to the original, and perhaps the reason behind the $ 30 price increase, is the addition of two HDMI ports: HDMI in and HDMI ARC. While some people use their televisions as a switch, the additional HDMI is useful if, for example, you use your own Smart TV for streaming and want to add a second device, such as a file game console. The soundbar also includes optical audio for connecting your TV, two 3.5mm analog ports with one for a voice assistant such as the Amazon Echo Dotand a USB port to play MP3 and WAV from a stick.

The Vizio has both Dolby and DTS decoding, which is impressive for a soundbar at any price, plus it has DTS Virtual: X, which is designed to simulate the sound coming from around and above you, and which works particularly well.

Ty Pendlebury / HDOT

The remote offers powerful levels of control for a budget soundbar, with volume plus two equalizer bands and an input selector. The rear of the remote conveniently includes an input color code table.

How does it sound?

The audio quality of the M21 was overall very good, although I was left with a lack of bass compared to units equipped with a subwoofer.

As I’ve found with previous soundbars with DTS Virtual: X, this technology really helps fill a room with realistic sound. Head to head against a soundbar that doesn’t have it, like the Creative Stage V2, the differences are noticeable. The Vizio was easy to physically lose when watching blockbuster movies, while the Creative’s sound always seemed to come from the cabinet.

The Vizio’s large soundstage was immediately evident during the lobby scene in The Matrix. After Neo (Keanu Reeves) sets off the metal detector and decorates the marble-walled room with lead garlands, a single soldier shouts “Freeze” (1.42: 09) The scream and its slow decay filled the room in a way the Creative couldn’t. t. Yet the Creative was able to articulate the explosions and bass-driven soundtrack that the Vizio without a subwoofer lacked.

Compared to the Vizio V21, another unit with a subwoofer, the M21’s openness and relative lack of bass were once again noticeable. The M21 sounded more vibrant during the lobby scene, although it couldn’t match the V21 in impact. That deep bassline would occasionally appear on the single bar when nothing else was happening, but I felt it at full throttle with the V21.

One thing you don’t often get from a budget soundbar, even one with Bluetooth, is its affinity with music, but the Vizio has stood up to a number of different genres. He was able to present the voice with convincing articulation and to blend the instrumentation as one unit.

With Thievery Corporation’s icy Lebanese Blonde anthem, for example, the Vizio sounded smooth through the lows and mids although it lacked the oomph that other soundbars have with a separate sub. On the Creative Stage V2 the music was tense and a little more electrifying, although it demonstrated one of the potential weaknesses of this type of system: the lower mids seemed to be missing. As a result, the song sounded a bit subtle.

Should you buy it?

The Vizio M21 is an excellent single-bar system with lots of connectivity and a sophisticated, slim design. I don’t know of any other single bar that costs less than $ 200 that offers that much.

That said, it’s cannibalized by the company’s M21 existence – at $ 150 the V21 is relatively too much. While it is regularly on sale for $ 120 and $ 116.22 on Amazon right now, many places sell it at full price. For the same $ 150 you can buy the V21 and it comes with a wireless subwoofer, so if it’s a choice between the two get the V21 instead. Likewise the $ 109 Creative Stage V2 offers a separate sub that also boosts its performance, and bargain hunters looking to extract maximum performance for the least amount of money should get (the) Creative.