How good can a soundbar be that you can buy for only about $100? If it’s the Vizio SB362An-F6, the answer is: pretty darn good.
It’s no secret that the sound you get from your flat screen TV is, well, usually pretty flat, and no wonder. When they make TVs so thin, there’s little room for the speakers, which often point downward from the bottom edge. You can hook your TV up to an existing sound system or just add a soundbar that either sits in front of the screen or hangs on the wall above or below it, especially if your flat screen is wall-mounted itself.
The Vizio SB362An-F6 is just such a soundbar of many that are out there by Vizio and other companies, and some are pretty expensive, going from over $500 to one that is almost $6000 with a separate subwoofer for better bass.
But for a lot less this 36-inch Vizio sounds nice & clear with its 2.1 system – that means left & right speakers plus bass. In fact, there are a pair of 3-inch subwoofer bass speakers right on top of the unit (or facing forward if the soundbar is wall-mounted). The Vizio SB362An-F6 doesn’t need a power brick as it plugs right into an electrical outlet, and has three sound inputs: optical digital, 3.5mm analog, or a USB port for playing audio files from a thumb drive. No HDMI but most TVs will have the optical or analog, or both. The optical and analog cables are included, by the way.
All ports plug in underneath the Vizio – a section is left open for them – so if sitting in front of your TV the wires will be almost invisible. Wall-mounting presents a wiring challenge for any soundbar, although the Vizio SB362An-F6 does have two “keyholes” on the back from which to hang it. The soundbar can also be connected Bluetooth to audio from your phone or other devices.
The Vizio soundbar has both Dolby and DTS decoding plus DTS Virtual:X which simulates surround sound even though the speakers are only right in front of you. Pretty neat for a soundbar in this price range. It has TruVolume dynamic compression, which means things don’t go from soft to loud too suddenly.
The small remote that comes with the Vizio SB362An-F6 can not only adjust the volume, but also select the input, turn the surround effect on & off, and there are even EQ buttons for bass & treble to play with. There are also buttons on one end of the soundbar, I guess in case you run out of batteries for the remote.
As I said at the beginning, the Vizio SB362An-F6 sounds very good, even great considering the price – comparable to more expensive models. As we get older our hearing on the high end tends to fade so we turn up the volume. Didn’t have that issue with this soundbar.
The Vizio is listed on their site for $139.99 – although currently out of stock – but seems to be available elsewhere for $98 to $110 bucks. For a little bit more there’s the Vizio SB361n-E8, a 2017 cousin which includes a separate wireless subwoofer to boost the bass, if that matters to you.