Vizio M Series 5.1.2 Soundbar Review: The Best Dolby Atmos Soundbar Under $500

Vizio M Series 5.1.2 Soundbar Review
The Vizio M Series 5.1.2 (M512a-H6) is an amazing Dolby Atmos soundbar for under $500. Josh Smith

The Vizio M Series 5.1.2 (M512a-H6) soundbar is an impressive Dolby Atmos soundbar that's under $500. That's an important factor when searching for a home theater upgrade, and it allows Vizio to stand out in a crowded market.

Editors Choice

I spent the last month living with the Vizio M512a-H6 soundbar. This is a premium-looking and sounding soundbar that is incredibly affordable. Unlike many cheaper soundbar systems, this option includes support for Dolby Atmos, which sounds like the action is coming from above.

The system includes a soundbar to place in front of your TV, a wireless subwoofer to place near the rear of the space and two surround sound speakers that plug into the subwoofer.

There is no WiFi connectivity, so that means you won't stream music directly to the soundbar, and there is no built-in voice assistant. You can stream over Bluetooth, and you can connect your own Google Assistant or Alexa powered device to the soundbar if you want to integrate voice control.

The Vizio M Series 5.1.2 soundbar is $449.99 and goes on sale at retailers soon.

Sound Quality and Performance

Vizio M Series 5.1.2 Soundbar Review
I’m impressed with the Vizio M Series 5.1.2 soundbar’s room-filling sound for movies and TV. Josh Smith

The Vizio M512a-H6 soundbar sounds better than a sub-$500 soundbar has any right to. The audio is crisp and room-filling. The rear channels do an amazing job of immersing me in the movie.

The system features 11 speakers total that combine to direct sound at you and upward to deliver Dolby Atmos style effects by bouncing sound off the ceiling. You get the most out of this while watching content with Dolby Atmos or DTS:X sound formats, but it also sounds great with standard surround sound.

When I was working my way through Marvel movies on Disney+ and watching movies on my Apple TV, I enjoyed the immersive experience of Dolby Atmos. In my current living room with very high ceilings, the effect isn't as deep as in a basement or a room with a standard height, but it is still noticeable.

While watching In the Dark on Netflix, the rear speakers did an amazing job of adding to the viewing experience by filling in the background noise without overpowering the dialogue.

Whether you are listening to movies with Dolby Atmos, gaming or watching surround-mixed shows on Netflix, the Vizio M Series 5.1.2 delivers amazing sound at an exceptional price.

Features, Connectivity and Specs

Vizio M Series 5.1.2 Soundbar Review
The surround speakers are small and easy to place in the room. Josh Smith

I found everything I needed to get the soundbar set up in the box, including an HDMI cable and hardware to mount the soundbar and speakers. The rear speakers plug into the subwoofer for audio signals and power, and the subwoofer pairs wirelessly to the soundbar. The setup took about 10 minutes, including figuring out where to place the speakers.

The soundbar supports a 3.5 mm headphone jack connection, optical audio, USB, HDMI In and HDMI eARC. I used the HDMI eARC connection, which can send the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X sound formats to the soundbar and allows my TV remote to control the soundbar volume.

The Vizio M Series 5.1.2 soundbar also supports Bluetooth. This allows you to stream music from your phone to your soundbar. There is no WiFi connectivity, so you can't stream music over WiFi. This wasn't an issue for me, as I normally play music through my Apple TV.

It's also possible to connect a Google Assistant or an Alexa device to the soundbar with Bluetooth or a 3.5 mm cable. This allows you to use your voice assistant while watching TV or a movie. When activated, the soundbar will lower the volume of what you're watching so that it's easier to hear and talk to your assistant.

These are some of the features and specs you'll find on the Vizio M Series 5.1.2 (M512a-H6):

  • 11 speakers
  • 5.1.2 channels
  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support
  • Wireless subwoofer
  • Connections: HDMI eARC/ARC, HDMI In, Optical In, Bluetooth, USB
  • Soundbar dimensions: 2.24 inches tall by 35.98 inches wide by 3.54 inches deep
  • Subwoofer dimensions: 9.92 inches tall by 8.3 inches wide by 11.69 inches deep

Design and Remote

Vizio M Series 5.1.2 Soundbar Review
I like the mix of metal and fabric on this soundbar. Josh Smith

I am a big fan of the new design that Vizio uses for this soundbar. The curved edges and upgraded materials make this look and feel like a more expensive soundbar. It's also easier to keep free of dust than older Vizio models.

The design is modern and conforms nicely with any decor. It's short enough to easily fit in front of a TV without blocking the display. Controls on the top of the soundbar make it easy to control volume or input quickly.

The remote control is good with backlighting for the small screen at the top, and it includes the buttons you need to control the equalizer and various other functions. A small LCD screen at the top of the remote shows you the soundbar's input. This is a handy feature, but I use the TV or Apple TV remote to control the volume in most cases.

The soundbar shows the input with a colored LED on the left side of the bar and announces the input over the speaker. With the HDMI eARC connection, I'm not routinely changing inputs on this soundbar. I like that the soundbar states the name of the connection instead of only using a colored LED.

Is the Vizio M Series 5.1.2 Soundbar Worth Buying?

Vizio M Series 5.1.2 Soundbar Review
This is an excellent choice to upgrade your living room sound. Josh Smith

The Vizio M Series 5.1.2 (M512a-H6) soundbar is the best Dolby Atmos soundbar under $500. It combines excellent sound and varied inputs with a great design.

The rear speakers are corded, but they plug into the wireless subwoofer, so you don't need to run cables from the soundbar to the rear of your room. This simplifies the setup and allows for better placement of the rear speakers. If you use a smart TV device or Bluetooth for streaming, the lack of WiFi isn't an issue.

After testing many soundbars and setting up a dedicated Dolby Atmos system, the price, quality and simplicity of the Vizio M512a-H6 stands out.

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