Although Dolby Atmos surround sound has been around for a while, manufacturers didn’t start to take the format seriously until streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus started to support it. Atmos soundbars are widely available and frequently quite affordable, but just because they support the standard doesn’t mean they can utilise it to its full potential. Consider the Sonos Beam Gen 2 as an example. While it has excellent sound quality, it is limited to simulating Atmos effects through digital processing because it is missing height speakers. you can read our article on Vizio M Series M512a-H6 review.
A 5.1.2 setup called the Vizio M Series M512a-H6 was released in 2021. It is a manufacturer’s mid-range offering and one of the few bars in its price range with rear satellites for a more engrossing surround sound. It’s not ideal for every living room setup to wire the satellites to the sub, as is the case with many Vizio bars. It doesn’t have as immersive of a soundstage as the more expensive Vizio Elevate because its satellites lack up-firing drivers. When playing Dolby Atmos content, the two up-firing drivers in the bar really shine, especially when compared to less expensive options like the Vizio M Series M51a-H6.
The Vizio M-Series M512a-H6 soundbar resembles its sibling, the M51a-H6 soundbar, but is larger to accommodate the addition of two upfiring speakers on the top of the device. It is also larger on all three counts, measuring roughly 40 x 4.0 x 2.8 inches. The wireless subwoofer has a 6-inch woofer inside and measures roughly 11.7 x 9.9 x 8.3 inches. The left and right satellites’ wired outputs on the sub are 5.8 x 3.5 x 2.3 inches each. The up firing drivers are positioned toward the Centre of the soundbar, which is not the best location.
Put your up firing speaker over your left and right channels, as advised by Dolby. It’s possible that the placement is the reason why this Atmos soundbar’s height effect isn’t quite as immersive as some others. An HDMI ARC port and one HDMI input for a set-top box or gaming console are located on the back left of the main soundbar. Additionally, a USB port and an optical digital audio connection are present. Both a standard 3.5mm input and an Aux VA input, used to connect voice-activated speakers, are located on the back right of the device.
You can always access your voice assistant because the Aux VA connection is always on, even if you are using another input. Bluetooth allows for wireless connectivity as well. Except for the far left, which has a vertical band of lights showing the volume level and flashing in various combinations when you change the sound mode or input, the front is mostly occupied by drivers. When you switch it, the input or sound mode is also announced by the speaker.
Vizio M Series M512a-H6 review: Setup
The M-Series 5.1 can be set up in one of two ways. One is the more traditional configuration, where the surround speakers are placed behind you, the soundbar is placed in front of you, and the subwoofer is placed behind the surround speakers. The alternative setup places the surround speakers on either side of the soundbar in the front of the room, along with the subwoofer. According to Vizio, the M-Series 5.1 can still achieve some pretty impressive surround sound effects even with this configuration.
Plug-and-play, fully automated setup is available. The soundbar and subwoofer will automatically connect to each other once you’ve plugged them into power outlets and turned on the system. There may be some issues with the subwoofer being too far away from the soundbar and losing some of its signal if you’re using the M-Series 5.1 in a large, opulent room. This problem will likely manifest itself as a small popping noise. However, given that this system isn’t meant for larger rooms, we don’t anticipate many people having a problem with this.
The Vizio M512a-H6 has fairly basic features, such as no built-in smart assistant or Wi-Fi for direct streaming. However, Bluetooth is available if you want to stream music using the sound bar system. You can’t expect it to work with your multi-room music system unless you connect a smart speaker to its 3.5mm port because neither airplay nor Google Cast are supported. Despite having only basic features, using the M512a-H6 is a very pleasant experience overall. also, you can learn our article on Vizio M Series M512a-H6 review.
The sound bar can turn on and off with your television because it supports HDMI eARC. Additionally, the remote control is surprisingly durable; it has a tiny LED screen that shows you the settings you are changing. The physical remote can control every setting, including EQ, balance, inputs, and others. Although the remote is excellent, we would have preferred an app to more easily control the settings because the LED screen is so small that text is frequently truncated.
Vizio M Series M512a-H6 review: Connectivity
Two HDMI connectors, one of which is an input and the other of which is either an output or an HDMI eARC interface, are located in the left rear cavity of the M512a-H6. There are now two ways to connect the soundbar to your TV using HDMI: either you connect a video source, such as a streaming video player, Blu-ray player, or gaming console, to the HDMI input and send video and audio to your TV via the HDMI output (4K HDR passthrough is supported), or you connect all of your video sources to your TV and then send audio to the soundbar using the HDMI eARC interface. If your TV is eARC-capable and the M512a-H6 is too, you can send lossless audio formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio to the soundbar via HDMI.
The Vizio M512a-H6 has excellent sound quality right out of the box, and the subwoofer virtually vanishes. With the satellite speakers positioned behind the listener, there is a wonderful sense of space. Although the soundstage is surprisingly large, it lacks the fine detail of more expensive soundbars and speakers, making it difficult to distinguish the precise location of various instruments. also, you can check our article on Vizio M Series M512a-H6 review.
It is evident from our testing that the M512a-H6 is primarily intended for home theatre, offering a huge amount of volume, impact, and a spacious soundstage. Although it sounds good, music lacks instrument separation and fine detail. The Dolby Atmos speakers do a good job of adding a sense of height, depending on your room’s setup, but movies are generally more immersive. You see, flat ceilings between 10 and 12 feet tall are ideal for Dolby Atmos. The up-firing Atmos speakers won’t be as useful in rooms with vaulted ceilings. It’s still a surprisingly good performance for a soundbar at this price point if you’ve got the right setup.
Vizio M Series M512a-H6 review: Performance
In comparison to the M51a-H6, the M512a-H6 produces excellent sound for the money, and the full battery of speakers unquestionably enhances the overall sound. The M512a-H6 delivers a 360-degree experience that is unmatched by Atmos soundbars without separate surrounds; however, a speaker with auto calibration, like the JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam, does a better job with the height aspect of Atmos.
The subwoofer’s powerful bass completes the sound system, though there was occasionally too much low end. The separate surrounds during Dolby’s Atmos demo videos gave the impression that a leaf was moving behind me as it moved offscreen to the left and then reappeared on the right. The height channel helped rain sounds to appear to be falling from the ceiling; however, the effect was not as strong as it was with the Bar 5.0 MultiBeam.
The sound emphasised the movement as missiles crossed the screen and the explosions rumbled in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s opening scene as Sam raced through the canyon. The dialogue on Mare of Easttown had resonance thanks to that bass, which helped the audience understand Kate Winslet’s gloomy accent. The subwoofer, however, was overworked by Tenet’s pulsing soundtrack and revealed its lack of detail; it was muddy and distorted.
Price and availability
The Vizio M512a-H6 has a suggested retail price of $450 (roughly £325 or AU$582) and will start shipping in May 2021, at least here in the US; there hasn’t yet been any word on availability in the UK or Australia. However, if you require something earlier, particularly something more potent, the $999 Vizio Elevate provides greater immersion and bass impact but costs twice as much as the M512a-H6.
The Vizio M512a-H6 is excellent for a variety of uses. It’s a flexible 5.1.2 bar that stands out from the competition at its cost-effective price. Voices and lead instruments are crystal clear as soon as you plug it into your TV, thanks to its well-balanced sound. Action-packed scenes and genres with heavy bass are brought to life by the sub, and the satellites further enhance the immersive experience of watching movies. Even with Atmos content, it doesn’t deliver the same cinematic experience as more expensive options, but if money is tight, it’s a good choice.