Vizio SB36514-G6 Home Theater Sound System review: Impressive sound, but we had Chromecast issues

We loved its true 5.1.4 surround sound and immersive Dolby Atmos effects, but the Vizio SB36514-G6 gave us trouble when it came to iOS 13 and Chromecast.

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DTS Virtual:X

If you don’t want Dolby upmixed height channels for some reason—say, for instance, you have a vaulted ceiling, which (as we noted earlier) blunts the effectiveness of the up-firing drivers—you can turn on the virtual height mode, which relies on DTS Virtual:X audio technology. DTS Virtual:X can deliver virtual height channels without the need of up-firing drivers while also widening the overall soundstage.

The Vizio’s implementation of DTS Virtual:X sounded impressive and detailed to my ears, if a tad more shrill than the soundbar’s Dolby Atmos mode, while emphasizing the width of the soundstage more than its height. It works, but if you need DTS Virtual:X support because the shape of your living room isn’t conducive to up-firing drivers, I’d recommend considering a cheaper DTS Virtual:X soundbar with standard forward-firing drivers. It’s also worth noting that while the Vizio SB36514-G6 supports DTS Virtual:X, it does not support DTS:X, a true (not virtualized) 3D object-based audio format that competes directly with Dolby Atmos.

Music performance

Next, I switched on the soundbar’s Direct EQ mode and teed up Maurice Ravel’s solo piano works as performed by Bertrand Chamayou on the Erato label. Solo piano can be a sticky widget for even the best audio systems, leaving them little room for hiding imperfections, but the Vizio SB36514-G6 did a nice job, serving up plenty of detail and warmth without sounding too dewey, while also conveying the atmospherics of the concert hall.

Done with Ravel, I moved on to the title track from Bruce Springsteen’s The Ghost of Tom Joad, and the Vizio SB36514-G6 held its own with the spare acoustic guitar, harmonica, and The Boss’s plaintive vocals, with the sound warming up smoothly as the synth and percussion kicked in. I wound up with last year’s song of the summer, Ciara’s glorious “Level Up,” and had a ball with the punchy rhythm, although I did opt to dial back the overly boomy bass for this particular track (this was the bass setting for the soundbar, mind you, not the subwoofer).

Bottom line

Easy to set up and blessed with rich, punchy sound, the Dolby Audio-enabled Vizio SB36514-G6 soundbar and its accompanying surround speakers and subwoofer makes it easy to bring immersive 3D audio into your living room. The soundbar’s four height channels and Dolby or DTS Virtual:X upmixing technology make even non-Atmos content sound like it’s coming from all directions, and we’re pleased that Vizio saw fit to include plenty of cables and mounting accessories in the box. That said, we’re hoping that a firmware update to fix the soundbar’s iOS 13 issues comes sooner rather than later, and we’re disappointed that we had trouble with the SB36514-G6’s built-in Chromecast functionality.

 
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At a Glance
  • Easy to set up and blessed with rich, punchy sound, the Dolby Audio-capable Vizio SB36514-G6 soundbar and its accompanying surround speakers and subwoofer makes it easy to bring immersive 3D audio into your living room.

    Pros

    • Easy setup
    • Generous supply of cables and accessories included
    • Dolby Atmos and DTS Virtual:X support
    • Rich, detailed immersive sound

    Cons

    • Out-of-the-box bass response is a tad boomy
    • Non-backlit remote is tough to use in the dark
    • iOS 13 compatibility issues at the time of this review
    • Spotty Chromecast connectivity (for us, at least)
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