At home theater-like listening experience — for cheap

If you are like me, it can feel overwhelming with all the different sound systems on the market these days. Yet, with more and more budget TVs coming to market, a quality sound system is a must to get the most out of your viewing experience. Vizio’s latest $500 Dolby Atmos soundbar system brings a theater-like listening experience on the cheap.


The M-Series 5.1.2 soundbar system does everything I need, from rumbling my seat with Matrix Resurrections to making me feel the roar of engines and gunfire during a parachute drop over Normandy in Band of Brothers. However, it costs much less than most competitors. 
If you have been looking for a cost-effective surround sound system that won’t break the bank, this is the soundbar for you. The system is a 5.1.2, which means it is versatile for most 5.1 formats out there but is ready to go when you encounter Atmos on many streaming services out there today. The main bar has the traditional center, right, and left channels, but Vizio has packed in a couple of speakers with up-facing drivers for when Atmos content is playing. Because the height channels come from the front, the rear surrounds can be lighter and smaller, making them easier to position. The connected subwoofer is small and easy to place, so this system is excellent to work with, even if you are working with a small room. The sub is also the distribution for the rear speakers, so in a small, medium-sized room, you can place the sub under or near a couch then run your proprietary audio cables to the rear speakers, which are slim enough you can hide them under a rug or tuck them under your couch.

Control & Setup 

The top of the bar has Power, Input Select, Bluetooth, and Volume controls. It has 2 HDMI inputs and 1 ARC HDMI output to your TV.
Depending on your TV, you will be able to control the volume directly from your TV without using the provided remote.
I set this unit up in my basement, which is about 700 sq. feet and carpeted. The volume output and balance were perfect for this room. I watched Band of Brothers on BluRay and was impressed by the separation of gunfire & voices while still supplying the power of the surround sound that provided the environmental effects. I loved how the sound bounced off the ceiling and the walls, creating a very lifelike surround experience. 
I have a THX 7.2 surround system in the same space, and I can tell you this system is a bit more mid-range than I am used to hearing, but that isn’t surprising at this price point, and it wasn’t enough to make me not enjoy the experience it created.
It took about 10 minutes to set up this unit and only a couple more to tweak the settings for my space. The only negative comment I have about this unit is with the length of the cables for the surround sound. Depending on the size of your room, you may find the length to be insufficient. However, this will not create an issue for you for a small to midsize room.
All in all, I would recommend this system to someone who wants to get into the soundbar game from a company that has made some great bars over the years.