Technology Vizio M Series 5.1.2 Soundbar Review: The Best Dolby Atmos Soundbar Under $500
Sonos confirms March 9th product launch, hints at smaller portable speaker
Whatever the new product is can probably fit in that bagSonos is also developing a pair of premium noise-canceling headphones, which recently made another appearance at the German Patent and Trademark Office. It looks like the design is almost final, and those would also fit the outdoor nature of this invite. But Sonos CEO Patrick Spence specified on the company’s latest quarterly earnings call that there’s only one new product coming in March. So it’s going to be one or the other. My money would be on the speaker being more likely, but we’ll see.
The Vizio M Series 5.1.2 (M512a-H6) soundbar is an impressive Dolby Atmos soundbar that's under $500. That's an important factor when searching for a home theater upgrade, and it allows Vizio to stand out in a crowded market.
I spent the last month living with the Vizio M512a-H6 soundbar. This is a premium-looking and sounding soundbar that is incredibly affordable. Unlike many cheaper soundbar systems, this option includes support for Dolby Atmos, which sounds like the action is coming from above.
The system includes a soundbar to place in front of your TV, a wireless subwoofer to place near the rear of the space and two surround sound speakers that plug into the subwoofer.
Vizio's rotating Dolby Atmos soundbar is $200 off at Amazon
You won't have to pay full price to put Vizio's unusual Elevate soundbar underneath your TV. Amazon is selling the 5.1.4-channel Elevate for $800, or $200 below its official price. That's the lowest price we've seen since November, and the lowest price Amazon has set so far. You might want to act quickly if you're interested — this is a limited-time deal that might expire soon. Buy Vizio Elevate on Amazon - $800 The Elevate is a relatively rare high-end soundbar from Vizio, and stands out with speakers that rotate upward whenever you're playing Dolby Atmos or DTS:X content.
There is no WiFi connectivity, so that means you won't stream music directly to the soundbar, and there is no built-in voice assistant. You can stream over Bluetooth, and you can connect your ownAssistant or Alexa powered device to the soundbar if you want to integrate voice control.
The Vizio M Series 5.1.2 soundbar is $449.99 and goes on sale at retailers soon.
Sound Quality and Performance
The Vizio M512a-H6 soundbar sounds better than a sub-$500 soundbar has any right to. The audio is crisp and room-filling. The rear channels do an amazing job of immersing me in the movie.
The system features 11 speakers total that combine to direct sound at you and upward to deliver Dolby Atmos style effects by bouncing sound off the ceiling. You get the most out of this while watching content with Dolby Atmos or DTS:X sound formats, but it also sounds great with standard surround sound.
Best streaming sticks and devices of 2021
We tested Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV and more to find the best streaming sticks and devices of 2021. Check out our winners and everything we tested.The solution? Streaming sticks and boxes. These handy devices enhance even the smartest of TVs, enabling users to access tons of streaming services and cast content from their phone, tablet or laptop. A good streaming stick or box can actually help lengthen a TV's lifespan by adding smarts and upgrading picture quality so you don't have to upgrade as often.
When I was working my way through Marvel movies on Disney+ and watching movies on myTV, I enjoyed the immersive experience of Dolby Atmos. In my current living room with very high ceilings, the effect isn't as deep as in a basement or a room with a standard height, but it is still noticeable.
While watching In the Dark on, the rear speakers did an amazing job of adding to the viewing experience by filling in the background noise without overpowering the dialogue.
Whether you are listening to movies with Dolby Atmos, gaming or watching surround-mixed shows on Netflix, the Vizio M Series 5.1.2 delivers amazing sound at an exceptional price.
Features, Connectivity and Specs
I found everything I needed to get the soundbar set up in the box, including an HDMI cable and hardware to mount the soundbar and speakers. The rear speakers plug into the subwoofer for audio signals and power, and the subwoofer pairs wirelessly to the soundbar. The setup took about 10 minutes, including figuring out where to place the speakers.
The Morning After: TCL's Fold n' Roll phone transforms between three sizes
On Wednesday, TCL unveiled several replacement-level midrange phones, but we’re going to focus solely on its latest prototype. Dubbed the Fold ‘n Roll, it combines two mobile technologies that no one has figured out how to use very well. The Fold ‘n Roll starts off as a fairly conventional-looking smartphone with a 6.87-inch display, but it unfolds Mate X-style into a small, squarish tablet with a screen that measures 8.85 inches diagonally. Then that screen can roll out even further from its housing, bringing its final size to a full 10 inches.
The soundbar supports a 3.5 mm headphone jack connection, optical audio, USB, HDMI In and HDMI eARC. I used the HDMI eARC connection, which can send the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X sound formats to the soundbar and allows my TV remote to control the soundbar volume.
The Vizio M Series 5.1.2 soundbar also supports Bluetooth. This allows you to stream music from your phone to your soundbar. There is no WiFi connectivity, so you can't stream music over WiFi. This wasn't an issue for me, as I normally play music through my Apple TV.
It's also possible to connect a Google Assistant or an Alexa device to the soundbar with Bluetooth or a 3.5 mm cable. This allows you to use your voice assistant while watching TV or a movie. When activated, the soundbar will lower the volume of what you're watching so that it's easier to hear and talk to your assistant.
These are some of the features and specs you'll find on the Vizio M Series 5.1.2 (M512a-H6):
- 11 speakers
- 5.1.2 channels
- Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support
- Wireless subwoofer
- Connections: HDMI eARC/ARC, HDMI In, Optical In, Bluetooth, USB
- Soundbar dimensions: 2.24 inches tall by 35.98 inches wide by 3.54 inches deep
- Subwoofer dimensions: 9.92 inches tall by 8.3 inches wide by 11.69 inches deep
Design and Remote
I am a big fan of the new design that Vizio uses for this soundbar. The curved edges and upgraded materials make this look and feel like a more expensive soundbar. It's also easier to keep free of dust than older Vizio models.
RIP, Apple TV remote: There’s finally a replacement and it’s only $15 at Amazon
Apple is a company known far and wide for its incredible designs. More so than any other consumer electronics company out there, Apple has shown that it considers every last detail when designing a new gadget. It goes without saying at this point that Apple sets the bar across the industry for every single one of its product categories, and the company's rivals always copy Apple's work. From smartphones and tablets to desktop computers, laptops, and even the Apple Watch, all of Apple’s designs are coveted and shamelessly swiped.
The design is modern and conforms nicely with any decor. It's short enough to easily fit in front of a TV without blocking the display. Controls on the top of the soundbar make it easy to control volume or input quickly.
The remote control is good with backlighting for the small screen at the top, and it includes the buttons you need to control the equalizer and various other functions. A small LCD screen at the top of the remote shows you the soundbar's input. This is a handy feature, but I use the TV or Apple TV remote to control the volume in most cases.
The soundbar shows the input with a colored LED on the left side of the bar and announces the input over the speaker. With the HDMI eARC connection, I'm not routinely changing inputs on this soundbar. I like that the soundbar states the name of the connection instead of only using a colored LED.
Is the Vizio M Series 5.1.2 Soundbar Worth Buying?
The Vizio M Series 5.1.2 (M512a-H6) soundbar is the best Dolby Atmos soundbar under $500. It combines excellent sound and varied inputs with a great design.
The rear speakers are corded, but they plug into the wireless subwoofer, so you don't need to run cables from the soundbar to the rear of your room. This simplifies the setup and allows for better placement of the rear speakers. If you use a smart TV device or Bluetooth for streaming, the lack of WiFi isn't an issue.
After testing many soundbars and setting up a dedicated Dolby Atmos system, the price, quality and simplicity of the Vizio M512a-H6 stands out.
Newsweek may earn a commission from links on this page, but we only recommend products we back. We participate in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites.
Vizio makes nearly as much money from ads and data as it does from TVs .
Vizio is finally a public company, after its 2015 plan for an IPO was derailed during a messy acquisition attempt from LeEco that eventually fell apart. Issuing its first public earnings report earlier today, the company revealed that in the first three months of 2021, profits from its Platform+ business — the part that sells viewer data and advertising space via the SmartCast platform — were $38.4 million. As execs said on the call, the company continues to court relationships with brands and agencies, following the same plan laid out six years ago with a business built on its Inscape Automated Content Recognition tech.