Sound bars are designed to provide the additional punch that many built-in TV speakers fail to deliver. Unlike standard speaker systems, sound bars are a great choice if you don’t want a speaker setup that takes too much space or involves a lot of effort in setting up. If audio enhancement is all you want in a sound bar, you shouldn’t have to spend more than $250 on a sound bar. There is no use in paying extra for features you may not be using. This is why VIZIO makes some sound bars like the VIZIO SB4021M-B1 which focus more on performance than anything else.
VIZIO certainly knows how to design products while keeping the price low. The SB4021M-B1 looks surprisingly good and even throws in some unique curveballs so the sound bar looks like something you would be excited to show off on your home theater system. While 40 inches sounds lengthy for a sound bar, the width of the back side is shorter than the width of the front side so the sound bar isn’t exactly rectangular and the shape looks pleasant.
The front side of the VIZIO SB4021M-B1 features a small info display which is quite rare for sound bars. It displays the current volume level, input and a few bits of other information. There is also a small power light indicator which only switches on when the sound bar is turned on. The rest is all speaker so the sound bar still looks minimal and should match other black home theater components. The controls can be found on the top which include a power button, input source button and standard volume button. You can also operate the sound bar from afar using the included compact remote control.
The legs are already screwed on to the sound bar so you can place the sound bar in the desired spot immediately after unboxing. You only have to do extra installation work if you want to mount the sound bar to a wall which should match nicely with a wall-mounted display. 2 wall mount brackets are included along with a wall mount template so it doesn’t require that much work to mount this 40-inch sound bar.
The digital optical in, digital coaxial in, analog 3.5mm in and USB port are the only ports you can find on the back of the SB4021M-B1. VIZIO generously includes a 3.5mm to RCA stereo cable but it is still better to use the digital inputs if you want the best overall quality. A wireless subwoofer is included in the package as well. Like most other wireless subwoofers, this particular one is simple to install as you just plug it in with the power cord, hit the switch on the back and press the link button so the subwoofer can link to the sound bar. There is an LED light indicator right above this button which shows the link status.
Because of the budget price, the VIZIO SB4021M-B1 is more focused on the performance than the features which is actually a good thing because customers hoping to look for a simple sound bar that actually sounds great can consider getting a VIZIO product such as this one. The addition of a USB port is actually quite surprising because not all sound bars have it. It allows you to plug in a USB thumb drive and the sound bar can play back any MP3 files found there.
On paper, the SB4021M-B1 is a 2.1-channel sound bar but VIZIO still advertises it as a surround sound system thanks to the built-in technologies by Dolby and SRS. The SRS TruSurround technology is featured in a lot of TVs but it does a better job in virtually recreating a nice surround sound experience. The sound quality could be enough to forget about adding rear speakers as the sound clarity is pretty good for what you pay for. Dolby Digital also has a surround sound technology which enhances the audio definition for all kinds of input sources from Blu-ray titles to amazing soundtracks. You can also take advantage of the SRS TruVolume feature which is basically VIZIO’s approach for keeping the volume normalized. This means you only have to set one comfortable volume level and you won’t have to worry about volume fluctuations which can sometimes happen when you change channel or when a sudden commercial break is shown. Overall, the 2-3/4-inch drivers and 6-1/2-inch long throw driver of the subwoofer is a great combo for producing decent sound and the sound enhancement technologies really help a lot.
The VIZIO SB4021M-B1 is nicely priced at $229.99 and comes with a 1 year warranty. VIZIO is known for their good customer support although you are less likely to have issues with a sound bar. It has the aesthetics and it does a passable job in exceeding the audio quality of built-in TV speakers.
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