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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Holiday 2015 Guide for Bluetooth Speakers and Soundbars

Well, its that time of year. You’re thinking about what to get your husband, boyfriend, father or brother for Christmas. You’ve thought about some speakers for the TV or maybe a Bluetooth speaker is something they’d really enjoy. If you’re not well versed in the audio world, you’re going to get caught up by marketing and buy something that under performs while being overpriced.

I’m here to help you avoid falling for marketing pitfalls and get you the perfect gift. You only have to follow three easy rules.

My 3 Rules of Beating Audio Marketers
1. Don’t spend more than $20 on stuff made of plastic
2. If they aren’t known for making audio equipment (Vizio, Samsung, etc), don’t buy from them
3. The smaller the speaker, the worse it sounds

If you follow those three rules, you won’t fall for the marketing tricks. Rule 3 is less important than the other two, though. Big plastic speakers will sound worse than small quality speakers. But large quality speakers beat small quality speakers 9 times out of 10.

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5 Soundbars Recommendations for Your Living Room

If you’ve been a reader of this website, you’ll know I haven’t always had kind things to say about soundbars. I have said in the past that compared to a smartly purchased speaker setup, soundbars don’t offer good audio quality for the price. I even wrote an extensive list of alternatives to soundbars to try and steer people towards other products.

After reading those articles, you may be surprised to learn that I actually own a soundbar in my own house. There are lots of good reasons to own a soundbar in the right circumstances. For me, I already have lots of great speakers that dominate several rooms of my house. I’ve got a home theater with 7 speakers; in my library I’ve got a vinyl setup; and at my computer I have studio quality monitors. I really just needed something that would be good for watching TV with my girlfriend in the living room, or as a second TV at Super Bowl parties. I didn’t want to dominate a whole wall of my living room with speakers and a subwoofer. That’s why I bought a soundbar for my living room TV.

Even though I have got this love for great speakers and great sound, sometimes a soundbar is the right choice. Unfortunately, the sound bar I bought is no longer available for purchase, so I am going to give you a list of recommendations based on the things I think are important to a soundbar.

If a soundbar is the right choice for you, I want to make sure you get a good one that you will be happy with for a long time. It can be hard for people to distinguish the good soundbars from the bad ones. You need to be very careful about what kind of soundbar you purchase.

You should not buy a big piece of plastic from a TV manufacturer masquerading as a piece of quality audio equipment. That means don’t buy from: Vizio, LG, Samsung, or Sony. They all make great TV’s. They do not make great speakers. They all also make some of the best-selling soundbars. I would avoid them if possible.

Any of the soundbars I list below should work well for anyone and provide good sound. I made this list of soundbars by using the following criteria:

  • Soundbars should be made by a company known for excellent speakers
  • Soundbars should be made of medium density fiberboard.
  • Soundbars should have sufficient size to use reasonably sized drivers
  • Soundbars should not require an external amplifier

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Soundbar Alternatives, $77-$385 and above

As I discussed in an earlier article, while soundbars are popular, they aren’t really a good option for those who want quality sound at a low price. Generally speaking, a soundbar is too small to sound really good. The companies who make soundbars aren’t usually dedicated to audio. Finally, similar systems at lower prices perform better. So today, I’m here to tell you what to buy instead. I’ve put together three different ways to get affordable alternatives at improved quality.
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If You Care About Audio Quality, Reconsider Purchasing A Soundbar

The primary home audio product today is the soundbar, in its various incarnations. They offer superior sound to the sound built into your TV at a relatively low price, with low complexity and a high convenience and aestheic factor. The problem with soundbars is one of compromise. At every turn, audio quality is compromised for price, convenience, simplicity and size. With any design, something has to give, there are no perfect solutions, and when it comes to budget soundbar, the compromise is audio quality. Lets take a look at some of the benefits of a soundbar, and examine how they affect audio quality. From there, we’ll look at some alternatives to soundbars depending on what you’re looking for. If, after reading this, you still want a soundbar, I’ve provided a set of recommendations.

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