VIZIO SB3821-D6 SmartCast 2.1 Soundbar-Subwoofer System Review

Last updated on: 9-19-18
Bottom Line: a solid 2.1 system that’s an emphatic upgrade over plain TV speakers that’s easy to set up and very inexpensive. Won’t be on par with higher end traditional home theater speakers, but the latter will be more expensive and more work to set up.

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Comes with a 2 channel soundbar, a wireless subwoofer, and a remote

Important Specs Overview

Speaker type: powered, sealed, 2 channel (soundbar); powered, ported, wireless (subwoofer)
Max output: 100 dB
Frequency response range: 50 – 20k Hz
Wireless: Bluetooth
Warranty: 1 year

Review and Discussion

VIZIO is known for making performant home theater equipment that’s inexpensive, and the SB3821-D6 system is one of several 2.1 soundbar/subwoofer combos in their budget-tier lineup.

It’s distinguishing feature is a larger subwoofer that, while still comparatively small in the grand scheme of things, has a standard 5.25 inch driver. Bigger subwoofers are generally better, and we’re glad Vizio can squeeze out more space while keeping the price very competitive. An overall max volume of 100 dB with a range of 50 – 20k Hz is going to be a major upgrade over most default TV speakers, and will be quite decent for filling a non-large room, but it will inevitably be outperformed by larger, more powerful traditional home theater speakers.

The SB3821-D6 has the same design as all of VIZIO’s soundbars, which actually looks quite good for a budget-tier speaker. While most cheap speakers have a pretty plain and boxy look, the vinyl finish with the mock-chrome side plates on these are definitely on par with some of the slicker, higher end speakers we’ve seen and reviewed. VIZIO offers a 1 year warranty on its budget-tier soundbars, which is pretty bare minimum, but about as good as it gets for how cheap this system is.

Our Overall Take, As Compared to the Competition

VIZIOs intent with their 2.1 soundbar systems is pretty clear: a cheap, out-of-the-box, easy way to upgrade default TV speakers, which unavoidably tend to be pretty lousy given how thin modern TVs are. All you have to do is plug the soundbar and subwoofer in and it’s ready to go, and they both can pair wirelessly which keeps cabling to a bare minimum and also makes placing the subwoofer as easy as possible.

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Traditional home theater speakers powered by a receiver will give more power and value for your dollar, at least for now, but then you have to worry about lugging them, placing them, and wiring them. A traditional home theater sound system as such will also probably run you $500 at a bare minimum. There’s no wrong choice – if your looking for something cheap, easy, and decent enough, so to speak, then the SB3821-D6 – and just about any VIZIO soundbar system for that matter – is a great choice. If you’re looking for a more permanent, higher powered home theater system, then you might want to consider putting in a little more work and money with a traditional set up.

VIZIO’s similarly popular SB3821-c6 (reviewed here) is almost the same, but the subwoofer is a little smaller, which we honestly think is a trivial difference. We’d say just get the cheapest one of the two currently available.

VIZIO’s SB3621n-f8m (the newer generation upgrade of the SB3621n-e8, reviewed here here) is also pretty much the same, save for that it supports the cutting edge DTS Virtual:X codec, which simulates overhead and surround sound without actually needing such placed speakers. Worth paying the marginal extra amount if that’s something you want, but is by no means essential.