Vizio SB3820-x Review

I don’t think anyone who has read through this website thinks there is any doubt I believe buying a soundbar is a bad decision. I’ve explained, at length, in the past why a soundbar isn’t conducive to quality audio. But despite my pleading, the widespread interest in soundbars continues unabated.

So I decided to find a soundbar that I could test and see how it stacked up against some of the cheap speakers that I’ve reviewed.

I decided to go with the 38″ Vizio soundbar as it is currently the best seller on Amazon for soundbars. It is the sound bar that comes with the Vizio SB3821 and Vizio SB3851. If anything represents the zeitgeist on home theater audio today, this is it.

As promised, its much sleeker than a regular pair of bookshelf speakers. It is even smaller than a pair of Micca Covo-S mini speakers.

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Vizio Soundbar in between a pair of Dayton B652’s and a pair of Micca COVO-S

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Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Vs Micca MB42X

One of the toughest things to do when buying speakers is picking between two good choices. You have to weigh your options between the various strengths of speakers which reviewers always hold in high esteem. It is therefore key to understand the differences between them so that you make an informed decision.

Both the Pioneer BS22 speakers and the Micca MB42X are commonly chosen as the first speakers for a new audio enthusiast. They are both speakers which are well regarded and get lots of praise from enthusiasts.

There are good reasons to choose one versus the other. The Pioneer BS22 is clearly a cut above the Micca in performance, but the Micca MB42X costs 30% less and has a much more compact size.

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Pioneer Bs22 and Micca MB42X

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Pioneer BS22 vs Dayton B652-Air

When looking at speakers, a common thing to wonder is what are you getting for your extra money. While bother the Pioneer BS22 and Dayton B652-Air are considered “good for the money” and “budget” speakers, the Pioneer speaker costs twice as much.

I will use this post to help explain what exactly you’re getting for twice the money.

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Pioneer BS22-LR Alongside Dayton B652-AIR

 

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Field Report: Summer Audio

No matter what you’re doing this summer, chances are some tunes will make it that much better. The thing is, the places where we want to listen to music in the summer aren’t in our living rooms, home theaters, or our listening rooms. Its on the beach, at a BBQ, on a boat, out at a campsite, or on our deck. I kicked off my summer this year at a rented house over Memorial Day weekend with a group of people. I decided to make use of some speakers I had from an early review and spend a little bit of money to make sure we were never at a loss for some quality audio.

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Micca Covo-S Review (Updated 6/24/2015)

Micca COVO-S Compact 2-Way Bookshelf Speakers -$39.95

These speakers are tough to review for me. On the one hand, as speakers to listen to music on, by themselves, these fall far short of offering something compelling. As a feat of engineering and getting all they could for $40 in a tiny speaker, it is fairly remarkable. So, starting at the conclusion, the Micca Covo-S is suitable only in an extremely compromised position, when you need both a cheap and a small speaker. They could work as a soundbar alternative or in a cheap surround sound setup.

One interesting thing about these speakers, is, in order to make them small, the tweeter is physically inside the woofer. That’s pretty neat by me.

When I listen to music, the problems with these speakers are quickly evident. The low end is a complete mess and non-existent. The very high end is surprisingly missing. The middle frequencies are actually pretty good. This makes them completely unacceptable for listening to music. As far as playing surround sound tracks, they will do just fine at whizzing bullets and spaceships. I also listened to some television programming, and they handled dialog and such just fine.

So, when would I recommend the Micca COVO-S? If you can’t afford a better small speaker, and are using them in an exclusively living room setting. That is to say, I can only recommend them in particular situations and then with reservation.

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Micca MB42X Review

Micca MB42X Bookshelf Speakers with 4-Inch Carbon Fiber Woofer and Silk Dome Tweeter, Black – $89.99

When someone first gets into audio, they are often looking for an affordable, small speaker that doesn’t compromise on performance. The Micca MB42X fills that role admirably. If you’re looking to buy a pair of speakers for under $100, these are your best bet.  Speakers like these sound much better than any soundbar in the same price range. You really will be getting a big step up in performance versus what you get from a typical soundbar.

These speakers are significantly smaller than the Dayton B652 and Dayton B652 AIR, and also offer a flatter frequency response, but with less bass. All-in-all these speakers are really nice at their price point.

I found these speakers enjoyable to listen to when I tested them. They did a nice job with music and voices. They seem to have been designed to handle the typical movie soundtrack and dialog quite well. It shows a real synergy between the marketing and engineering teams in my opinion. A speaker that costs $90 can only do so much. By focusing on a specific problem: making the speaker sound as good as possible on a typical TV show or non-action film soundtrack, they deliver a speaker which is quite good for most of the population and use cases. This isn’t going to be the centerpiece of an exquisite music listening setup, no $90 pair of speakers would be, and the designers didn’t try to make it for that role, to their credit.

My main complaint while listening to them is they are begging to be paired with a subwoofer to give you something even better. This is hardly surprising. They’ve got 4.5″ drivers so physics dictates they won’t have good bass. That said, if you want to get the most out of these, buy a subwoofer. This one should do the trick.

Even when you upgrade your speakers later, these are the kind of speakers you will always find a place for in your house. You’ll use them in other rooms, for parties, your workshop, even with your computer. They are incredibly flexible, and unless you plan on using them for an outdoor event or in a large hall, they will satisfy your needs.

The biggest marketing point to these speakers is they have a well made crossover circuit inside. The Micca MB42 does not, and costs less than half the price. The circuit is a big deal. Dayton Audio’s B452, B652 and B652-Air have very minimal crossovers. A crossover is a circuit that splits the sound and sends part to the tweeter and part to the woofer. The MB42X properly splits the signal between the two which accounts for much of the cost of the speaker, as well as the reason behind its higher quality sound than the Dayton speakers.

To reiterate, these are fairly small speakers, less than 6 inches wide, so they should find a place wherever they are needed. You can put them on their side and underneath a TV, and that should work pretty well.

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Dayton T652 Review (Updated 6/24/2015)

Dayton Audio T652 Dual 6-1/2″ 2-Way Tower Speaker Pair – $118.50+$9.95 shipping

The last set of Dayton’s I’ll be reviewing for a bit are the oddball of the family. While the B652-AIR fixed the treble issues with the B652s, the T652 takes the B652 design and turns it into a tower. It is louder, and extends deeper, though at a steep cost in size and price. The T652 sounds big, fills up a room, and is in no way worse than the B652.

However, the problem with the T652 is I have trouble deciding when I would recommend them. The B652’s are probably already pushing the limit of what someone who just wants some speakers for the living room are willing to accept size wise. And at $120+, there are much better choices for quality.

That leaves the segment of people considering these to just people who are putting together dedicated home theaters on a severe budget. In a big home theater room, towers are usually the best choice for your front stereo pair, as these speakers do the heavy lifting, and you want them to be loud and cover a wide range of frequencies.  The next tier in tower speakers are more than twice the price, but still only $260. I’ll be reviewing these soon. The thing is, if you’re investing enough in your home entertainment to dedicate a space big enough to warrant towers, you probably don’t want to be buying speakers that are just the minimum passable speaker. You want something that sounds impressive. So while the T652 has a market segment all to itself, I’m not really sure who is in that market.

One last point about these speakers before we look at measurements is that while I’ve talked about how they are bigger than most people would want in a non-dedicated room, they are also not tall enough to use without a stand. I put 6″ risers underneath these to listen to. It’s obviously not a big deal, but it is a consideration.

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