Vizio SB36512-F6 review: This is the Dolby Atmos sound bar you should buy

The Dolby Atmos The surround format offers excellent immersion in a home theater environment, but until now soundbars with Atmos weren’t very good values. For example, the $ 800 LG SK10Y it was the cheapest bar last year, but it was just a poor performer. However, the Vizio SB36512-F6 ($ 387 on Amazon) change everything.

If you were looking for the sweet object-based surround effects of Atmos but aren’t interested in a AV Receiver and a room full of speakers, the Vizio SB36512-F6 ($ 387 on Amazon) it will be music to your ears. The SB36512 isn’t just the first Atmos soundbar we’ve seen reaching $ 500, it’s a good one too. Really, really good.

2019 may see more Atmos soundbars at this price point, but hardly any include actual rear speakers. The Vizio does it and they make a difference for immersive surround sound. The SB36512-F6 not only delivers great sound for the money, it also has all the connectivity you need. Just his lack of DTS: X decoding and a performance with less successful music could give fans a break.

The Vizio SB36512-F6 ($ 387 on Amazon) it offers excellent performance for the price and one of the best home cinema performance you can find for less than a grand. We enthusiastically award him the CNET Editors’ Choice Award.

The look, the equipment

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Sarah Tew / CNET

Vizio hasn’t changed the look of its soundbars in recent years, to the extent that one of the company’s $ 130 models it looks a lot like the $ 500 or so. The SB36512-F6 is quite underrated with its black fabric casing and silver colored tips.

At the top of the counter sits a pair of tall, upward-facing speakers designed to broadcast Atmos effects from the ceiling and into the room. There’s a limited number of controls at the top, and the 36-inch wide bar is wall-mountable in the back.

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Sarah Tew

The main weakness of the SB36512’s design is the same as any other Vizio in recent years; the super-base “display” on the unit. It’s just a stack of LED dots, which may offer a useful volume level indicator but completely fails when representing which input is currently active.

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Sarah Tew / CNET

The wireless subwoofer is a black and silver shoebox with a 6 inch woofer with ports. This unit helps the whole system drop to the claimed 40Hz.

Vizio offers five different types of physical connectivity: HDMI in / out (with ARCO), coaxial, optical, USB (for .WAV playback, oddly enough) and a 3.5mm analog input jack. Wireless connections include Wi-Fi with Chromecast integrated and Bluetooth.

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Sarah Tew / CNET

The remote is a real wand rather than a plastic credit card and also includes a one-line LCD display, which is very useful for tweaking advanced settings or setting the sound bar in the first place.

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