|Model||Channels||Watts||Wireless Speakers||Bluetooth Streaming||Price||Rating|
|VIZIO SB3851 38-Inch 5.1 Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer and Rear Satellite Speakers||5.1||520||Yes||Yes||$$|
Pros: Easy to set up, great sound and capabilities, cheaper than similar performing 5.1 systems and with more power
Verdict: No HDMI? No problem! Best bang for the buck system with tons of power.
Design and Aesthetics
The design and aesthetics is on par or better with other available soundbars at this price point. The black and silver design go well with just about any TV home theater system out there, so it shouldn’t be too hard to incorporate into your living room or man cave. The wireless subwoofer is very convenient as I found it to be the eyesore of the system (though it’s really not that bad). Without the wires, I’m able to tuck it away in the corner of the room beside the couch. I would recommend going this route as you will be able to hear and feel the big bass sound and rumbles like in a movie theater.
Setup and Use
The VIZIO S3851W is very easy to set up and get running. You can either use analog inputs with RCAs or a 3.5mm jack, or go the preferred route of digital with a coaxial or optical cable. I would highly recommend using the digital route with an optical cable. Most TVs will have an optical output. If you go this route, refer to your TV manual to set the audio output stream to 5.1 to get your true surround sound. Most TVs will be set as a typical stereo output using the built in speakers.
Bluetooth is equally easy to setup and start playing music wirelessly from any bluetooth enabled device. Refer to your device’s manual to set up pairing and you’ll be enjoying untethered music in no time.
Sound Quality and Performance
The VIZIO S3851w features several audio technologies to provide you with the best audio experience possible. These include Dolby Digital, DTS Circle Surround, DTS Digital Surround, and DTS TruVolume. My personal favorite test is a war movie such as Saving Private Ryan or Blackhawk Down. Hearing the bullets whiz around you is quite the experience.
This soundbar does not disappoint…period. About 20 minutes out of the box we were up and running and enjoyed unlocking the surround sound capabilities of our BluRay movies. After all, being a Best Product of CES winner, I would expect no less. The high are crisp, the vocals are clear, and the bass can rattle your fillings out if you need it to.
Hands down, this is one of my favorite soundbars and the best bang for the buck. Not having an HDMI input is a negative, but I typically use optical cables anyway. More systems nowadays come with HDMI at the same price point, but don’t let that sway you. You can also pick up an HDMI/Optical box that will split the HDMI and optical signals. This sound bar is definitely worth the price, you’ll regret not buying this!