Soundbars (sound panels or sound projectors) are a relatively new technique in the AV market, but their popularity is growing rapidly. Such a device is designed to replace the built-in acoustics of a flat-screen TV, traditionally not distinguished by the high sound quality. That’s why today, it is quite difficult to imagine a high-quality system without the best 2.1 soundbar.
But how to find that exactly needed model? Read our rating, where all models have a separate subwoofer with wireless connectivity and Bluetooth support. This will make your choice much easier.
The issue of maintaining the proper level of harmony of the best 2.1 channel soundbar on the market without fatal damage in the low-frequency region was solved. How? In the traditional way, using a separate subwoofer.
Both components are made in black, decorated with a fabric with matte plastic, and will easily dissolve in any interior, leaving the main thing in mind - the sound. They are interconnected via a wireless channel, which simplifies the already elementary installation. The soundbar, depending on the type of placement of the TV, can be mounted on the wall or put on the bedside table in front of the screen. For hinged installation, no additional accessories are required, standard hinges are provided in the case; a template for fasteners is attached. There are three ways to connect to a TV.
Analog should be considered only in the context of very old TVs. Digital optical differs in the broadest compatibility, while the cable is included in the package. With modern TVs, it is preferable to use HDMI. Moreover, the soundbar is equipped not only with output but also with one input of this format with the ability to broadcast a 4K signal with HDR and HDCP 2.2. In a word, in all respects, it is suitable for any source and televisions of the latest generation.
There are also three control options. You can use the bundled remote control, or, using a special proprietary application for iOS or Android, turn any mobile gadget into one. Support for the HDMI CEC protocol and connection with the appropriate cable are required to adjust the volume and synchronous on-off from the standard remote control of the TV. The format is not new; most flat-panel TV models have good chances of compatibility.
The built-in Bluetooth receiver is the most convenient and widespread way to play music from portable devices. Here it is complemented by a DSP mode widening the frequency range, thanks to which ordinary mp3 files sound much more natural.
The main "trick" of the model is, of course, compatibility with the new surround format DTS Virtual:X. The name of this technology is consonant with DTS:X, competing with the Dolby Atmos format of object-oriented surround sound. The "virtual" version, as well as the usual one, implies the extension of the sound panorama not only in one plane but also up and down.
The essence of virtuality is that this is supposed to be done without additional speakers due to the special processing of the soundtrack by the sound processor. The best result is achieved if there are multi-channel tracks in the source material, but the system is ready to make its own surround mix even from the banal stereo. There are five surround modes, depending on the type of program - movies, games, sports, music, TV. There are bass amplifiers and dialogs.
Externally, the soundbar looks very traditional, as well as the included wireless subwoofer - the front panel is completely covered with fabric, black, compact size.
The controls on the soundbar are located on the top of the case, exactly in the middle. Five keys are used to adjust the volume, switch inputs, turn on the power, and pair with Bluetooth sources. For the physical connection of external devices on the rear wall, there is an HDMI ARC input, a 3.5 mm mini-jack, and an optical digital input. Actually, that's all. The package also includes a miniature remote control that allows you to switch signal processing modes, adjust the overall volume level, as well as the gain level of the subwoofer. Preset modes include night, listening to music, and watching movies. There is also a key on the remote control to activate the Voice Adjust function, which increases the intelligibility of dialogs in movie soundtracks.
The body of the soundbar is completely made of plastic. It is also encouraging that its height does not exceed five centimeters. This means that when placed on a stand in front of the TV, it is guaranteed not to cover even a small part of the image at the bottom of the screen. All speakers are located on the front panel. Their set includes two oval midrange drivers and two tweeters 25 mm in size.
The first thing that I want to note from the point of view of operation is the exceptional friendliness of the soundbar and subwoofer to the location relative to each other. Of course, the coherence of the sound picture is broken if you put them at different ends of the room, but when installed in the frontal plane, the range for maneuver was quite wide. Nevertheless, it is better to place both modules close to each other.
Polk’s patented surround technology and 5.1 Dolby Digital decoding create incredibly surround-sound space-filling sound for such a compact, low-profile soundbar and wireless subwoofer.
The package includes an HDMI cable, which allows you to quickly and easily connect the device.
You can transfer audio files from the built-in applications of your smart TV and sources directly connected to the TV to the Signa S2 device via an HDMI cable. You can also adjust the volume of your Signa S2 device using the TV’s remote control (this requires the TV to have CEC support).
The button for switching on preset equalizer modes for watching movies and listening to music allows you to instantly set up the soundbar and subwoofer for clear speech, ambient sound with the presence effect, and deep bass, so you can enjoy incredibly high sound quality when listening to music and watching movies.
Listen to your favorite music and watch movies without disturbing those who are close to you - at the touch of a button you can turn on “Night mode” to reduce bass and increase the level of Voice Adjust for clarity of dialogue, without increasing the overall volume.
VIZIO is one of the main brands in the entry-level segment. Their ability to offer great value for money has made them quite popular. Because of this, the VIZIO SB3821-C6 is the best budget 2.1 soundbar.
When you immerse yourself in affordable soundbars, the design is usually not the area where you will see too many great solutions. Many brands are trying to come up with products that look provocative, which some users like.
However, most of us still like the simple, clean design. VIZIO understands this very well. SB3821-C6 is one of the cleanest and most stylish soundbars in its segment. It features a black grille and black panels wrapped all the way around the bar. Only the side panels are finished with brushed aluminum texture, which gives you some contrast. This also applies to the subwoofer.
In terms of form, VIZIO adhered to the good old cuboid. The body may not be the most outlandish style, but it is clean and practical. Installing this soundbar on a wall or piece of furniture is very easy. Since the subwoofer is wireless, you don’t need to worry about cables that can upset your setup.
When you discuss the available soundbars and features, the best you can expect is the most necessary. This segment is such that you usually do not see too many advanced technologies. The VIZIO SB3821-C6 comes with two 2.75-inch speakers combined with a compact 5-inch woofer.
Together, they can give you about 100 dB from the maximum sound pressure level. Processing this power is the work of the Dolby Digital decoder, as well as the DTS TruSurround and DTS TruVolume. All in all, a pretty lightweight package. However, the best feature of this VIZIO soundbar is its wireless subwoofer. This is what is usually reserved for more expensive models.
As for the input/output cluster, there is a set of analog and digital inputs. We are talking about stereo RCA, 3.5 mm stereo, as well as coaxial RCA and Toslink optical input. VIZIO comes with these soundbars with a simple and lightweight remote that allows you to control all its functions.
For system 2.1, the VIZIO SB3821-C6 works pretty well. These two drivers do a good job of closing the high and middle parts of the frequency range, and the 5-inch subwoofer takes care of the rest. Naturally, since the subwoofer is smaller than average, it will not delve so deep into the low frequencies.
You look at 50 Hz at best. Thanks to all Dolby features, movie dialogs sound very clean. You can distinguish voices even when the characters are whispering, while the sudden change from quiet to loud noise handles pretty well.
When you turn on the music, you really feel the lack of bass and the general limitation of this system. However, compared to most of its direct competitors, the VIZIO SB3821-C6 has a fairly balanced performance, which justifies its reputation. The budget soundbar system doesn't really get much better than this.