A basic all-in-one soundbar, the Vizio SB362An-F6E delivers very good sound quality for the money
- Great sound quality
- Simple to connect
- Reasonable price
- Display can be confusing
- No HDMI input – optical only
The number-one soundbar brand in the US, Vizio, is a name perhaps less familiar to consumers in the UK. The company has been around since 2002 and it’s prolific in its native country but has waited until 2019 to make its move in the UK with the launch of three TV audio systems.
The Vizio SB362An-F6E sits in the middle of the firm’s UK range, and it’s typical of the Vizio’s approach to the sector, aiming to deliver decent sound quality and features for not much cash.
Vizio SB362An-F6E 36in 2.1 Soundbar: What you need to know
If you’ve never owned a soundbar before, the Vizio SB362An-F6E is perhaps a good place to start. It’s both simple to use and connect and, yet, will improve the audio quality of your TV no end.
It’s not luxuriously made and, as you’d expect of a £150 soundbar it’s predominantly built from plastic, but it does look pretty good; like a flattened hexagonal cylinder or squashed Toblerone, with fabric covering the main body of the device. Underneath that fabric in the centre is series of white LED lights, all arranged in a horizontal line and on the right end of the bar is a series of controls for adjusting volume, input and power.
At just over 91cm, the Vizio soundbar is compact and a natural companion to a TV between 32in and 45in in size. It’s not too tall, so no need to worry about it obscuring your view of the screen and it can be wall-mounted, with the required brackets included in the box.
Setup is as straightforward as it gets: all you need to do is plug it into the mains and hook it up to your TV via the optical or 3.5mm input. There’s also a USB port, which supports WAV and MP3 formats and Bluetooth connectivity, which is perfect for playing back music from your phone. Cables are provided, as is a user-friendly infrared learning remote, which makes it possible to use the Vizio remote to control volume and mute on your TV when the soundbar is switched off.
In terms of sound quality, the first thing that really hits you about the Vizio 36in soundbar is its clarity, balance and scale. A simple 2:1 setup, this isn’t the most extravagant soundbar on the market and, needless to say, the audio doesn’t completely envelope you as it does with full surround-sound systems but it is remarkably easy to listen to for the most part and, within its limitations, delivers positional audio reasonably convincingly.
The soundstage is reasonably wide, too, there’s also support for Dolby Digital audio via the optical input and also DTS Virtual X. Enable the latter via the remote control and the Vizio soundbar will attempt to simulate the effect of overhead sound, a bit like Dolby Atmos. In practice, this did have the effect of adding some depth to the sound but it also added a touch of harshness to vocals and speech. I’d recommend you turn it off.
The SB362An-F6E does, however, include two “subwoofers” within its frame. These can’t match the low-end grunt of a dedicated sub – the drivers are simply too small – but the bass this all-in-one bar produces is surprisingly good and it complements the mid-range and treble without drowning it out.
This isn’t a device that will shake the floorboards and rattle the upstairs windows. Instead, it strikes a balance between improving your own television’s built-in audio and taking it to home-cinema levels.
And despite its simplicity, you do get plenty of room for adjustment. For starters, the bar has two “EQ modes”, one specifically for movies and one for music, with the Movie mode producing a more expansive sound and the Music setting a slightly cleaner overall presentation.
Should you wish to go further, there is also the option to tweak bass and treble on the remote and scale it up or down to taste. This is particularly useful for boosting dialogue if need be and giving a little extra thunder to action films but it’s easy to get carried away and overdo things. Ramp up the treble too much, for instance, and the bar sounds too harsh so I’d recommend you keep your adjustments small.
The only thing I don’t like about the SB362An-F6E is the lack of a proper display. Inputs, bass, treble and volume levels are all indicated via that simple horizontal line of white LEDs and figuring out what’s what can get confusing.
Vizio 36in 2.1 Soundbar: Price and competition
At £149, however, there isn’t much that competes with the Vizio 36in soundbar on value and sound quality. The Creative Stage 2.1 (£80) can enhance your television’s output and comes with its own subwoofer but is half the size of the Vizio soundbar and doesn’t kick out audio with quite the same scale.
The Polk Command Bar offers Alexa voice control, comes with a separate wireless subwoofer and sounds more rounded than the Vizio but it’s nearly £80 more expensive.
Vizio 36in 2.1 Soundbar: Verdict
In simple terms, it’s hard to argue against the Vizio SB362An-F6E. It may not be the most stylish soundbar you’ll ever see and features might be restricted but the sound quality is excellent and it’s incredibly simple to connect and set up. If you only have £150 to spend on improving the sound of your TV this is the soundbar to buy.