Important Specs Overview
Speaker type: powered, wireless, sealed 2 channel soundbar, ported subwoofer
Max output: 100 dB
Frequency response range: 50 – 20k Hz
Wireless: Bluetooth 4.0
Warranty: 1 year
Review and Discussion
VIZIO is known for it’s focus on home theater equipment that’s performant and inexpensive, and the prior 2017 release of their 36 inch 2 channel sound bar and subwoofer combo (the SB3621n-E8), was one of the most highly reviewed and popular budget soundbars ever. The SB3621n-F8M is a new 2018 version that’s an exclusive Amazon release, and it brings the same power and value to the table with some cool new features.
The SB3621n-F8M now includes DTS Virtual:X, which is a fairly cutting edge audio codec that can simulate the surround and overhead sound of the DTS:X codec (hence the “virtual” descriptor) without actually needing the actual positioned speakers. Basically, it can make it sound like you have surround and overhead speakers without actually having them, which is quite the cool feature for a 2.1 system that remains as inexpensive as this one is.
Beyond that, you get a 2 channel sound bar and subwoofer out of the box, with baseline specs of 100 dB max output and a range of 50 – 20k Hz. Will this be on par with a traditional pair of speakers with a receiver? Probably not, but, these specs are still quite good for how cheap the overall price is, plus of course you just have to plug them in and pair the wireless, which skips the hassle of placing and wiring a traditional home theater system.
VIZIO’s budget speakers still manage to look quite decent too, which is always a nice bonus for cheap speakers – they all feature a similar such design with a vinyl finish with mock-chrome side plates. VIZIO offers a one year warranty on all its budget speakers, which is pretty bare minimum, but fairly par for the course among the cheapest available sound equipment.
Our Overall Take, As Compared to the Competition
The intent of VIZIO’s soundbar systems is pretty clear: a cheap and easy upgrade over default TV speakers, which are usually unavoidably bad. If that’s what you’re after, then we can definitely recommend the SB3621n-F8M. The inclusion of the DTS Virtual:X codec is also quite a neat feature for a budget-tier system.
That said, you’ll generally get more power and value for your dollar with traditional passive speakers and a receiver, and you’ll likely need what that can offer if you really want to fill a large room. The downside there, though, is that you’re looking to spend around $500 minimum for a complete set up, and you have to lug it into place and wire it. There’s no wrong answer as to what’s better: we always say don’t overpay for power or features you don’t need; or, if you’re looking to really invest in a long-term system, traditional might be the way to go after all.
VIZIO’s SB3821-C6 (reviewed here) is another highly popular alternative, but the only significant difference is that it doesn’t include the DTS Virtual:X codec and is a little bit cheaper as a result.