Normally, I’d like to replace the word “miserable” with shitty, but I don’t want to do that because then it would look bad in the SERPS. Duh whatever… Anyway, here’s the dealio. After listening to many of those surround sound systems out there, I can safely say that Vizio S4251 Soundbar is indeed worthy of appreciation.
Certainly, Vizio did not release the perfect sound bar for the audience, but they did a great job. There were some chinks that leave room for minor improvements. The main reason I wanted to review Vizio Soundbar (S4251w) was for the fact that they did their homework. The company researched, it heard what the market wanted, and it looked into the downsides of average surround sound systems.
As a result, Vizio Soundbar does not seem to be repeating mistakes that other companies made in the past. Here is an in depth review of an unusual soundbar that performs as advertised.
Vizio Soundbar (S4251w) is Better Because?
Why is Vizio Soundbar better than products that were earlier released within the same category? A long time ago, the usual approach to creating sound systems and home theaters was the one with the following setbacks:
- There were 5 or 6 speakers in the home theater/ sound system packaging. The bass module was an additional unit that not only weighed like a sack o’ bricks, but also occupied space.
- There were and still are a lot of wires to tangle, manage and untangle.
- The cardinal rule for connecting front surround sound speakers, i.e. both left and right is to run a huge wire across the room. Admit it; you can’t leave the wires hangin’ in there because it would look ugly. Eventually you need to buy a decent rug to cover the tracks.
- Expansion of default speakers always came with a heavy price. Let’s say you need to buy two more speakers; it’d come with extra wires, more space issues and of course extra charges.
- Did I mention additional remote controls? One for the sound system, one for the extra speakers, one for the AV receiver and one for the TV!!!! OMGGGGGGG not cool.
Someone from Vizio heard the call and went through the list. The company attended to those issues by creating the S4251w sound bar; something that doesn’t leave a wirey mess. It has the combined speaker power without any extra cost, expansion options, wireless connectivity to some extent, portability perks and tons of cool shit.
The Good Stuff about Vizio Soundbar (S4251w):
This sound bar works as advertised. At times I have seen sound bars which boast of multiple speakers and unique results. Let’s say ABCD is a company behind a sound bar with a self proclaimed 5.1 system in it. You go home and play your favorite songs. What happens? The sound comes off as if it is basically one GIANT SPEAKER without the slightest hint of 5.1 sound effect. It is as if the entire thing is jamming inches away from your face.
In case of Vizio S4251w, I could not help but notice the following:
- The soundbar itself looks great; it feels great.
- The remote control is visually appealing. All the controls are elaborately laid across the device. It is easy to hold and the grip is firm. You can squeeze your grip around it, but it won’t creak or come up with any creaky noises.
- Compared directly to some of the recent Samsung soundbars, the Vizio Soundbar (S4251w) is better.
- The rear speaker has an awesome effect. You can finally feel it during movies and intense game sequences. It is nice.
- Bluetooth connectivity is awesome. My assessment says that the soundbar takes 6 seconds minimum to detect your wireless Bluetooth devices. It works the same way as the Soundwave SW100 Bluetooth speaker does (you can read its review here.)
Vizio Soundbar (S4251w) really shines when it comes to bass module and surround sound effect. After all, one of the reasons as to why I liked this system understands the human auditory system, our tolerance level against noise and pleasant sound, and then works its way to come up with amazing results.
Stuff that I Didn’t Like about Vizio S4251w Sound Bar:
I don’t know about you because some of the following cons may not be that much irritating to you as they were to me. Nonetheless, they are stated below:
- It might be a little hard for you to configure subwoofer. The tweaking part is tough because sometimes it gets too deep for movies, or too light for music. You need to see which setting suits you the best.
- The subwoofer on the S4251w works best if it is placed in a boxed space. The boom effect will automatically bounce off the surrounding walls, hence giving a really nice thump. You can also place the subwoofer behind you alongside the rear speakers.
- The Power On LED is tiny. It is a little hard to see it blinking on/off on this Vizio sound system.
My Experience with the Vizio S4251w SoundBar:
The Vizio Soundbar packaging includes 3 different types of speakers. Two of these speakers are to be placed at the rear/ far end of the room behind you. The soundbar needs to be placed on the TV or on top of your TV trolley. I prefer a congested environment for the bass unit because this way the thump really sounds great.
The SoundBar Part: The sound bar on the Vizio S4251 produces good quality sound. The distinguishing factor between front speakers is very hard to tell if you are playing the entire unit on low volume settings. The Costco guys demoed it for me at loud volume, which is probably why I thought the same effect would be there at low volume. I was wrong.
Vizio Subwoofer: The subwoofer produces high quality bass, i.e. if you are done with tweaking it for your media collection. Inside the Vizio Soundbar S4251 manual, it says that the subwoofer is already paired with the soundbar. I beg to differ here because I had to reset the entire unit to make the sub sound right. You can either keep resetting the unit or trying new settings to see if it works. Kinda like hit n’ run thing.
Time and time again, I made mention of placing the subwoofer in a closed in place. My placement goes like this: the sub is placed behind a coffee table, so people can’t tell where the bass effect is coming from.
Satellite Speakers: You can go to the official Dolby Digital website to download a few sample files. These files will help you properly configure your Vizio Soundbar S4251w system and also give you the basic idea of what really works and what doesn’t. The satellite speakers on this sound bar come to life when perperly configured. The custom settings work best because default mode does not go a long way in distinguishing front speakers, rear speakers and subwoofer results.
Vizio Remote Control: Here’s the fun part about the remote control: if you are not pointing it to the main sound bar unit, it will not work all the time. Some users said that they had no trouble even if the remote control was facing the opposite of the soundbar.
Let me tell you why they didn’t have any trouble. Normally, any infrared remote control works despite of the fact that it is not facing the main unit. This happens because you are sitting close to the main unit. If you were to take the Vizio Soundbar S4251w unit to the far end of the room, with the remote’s facing something else other than the sound bar, it will not work.
Moving on, the remote control automatically detects your last saved settings. You don’t have to press the ‘+’ volume button to take the sound all the way to where you left it last time. You can also buy a Universal Remote control, such as the Bose Harmony series to set all electronic equipment on it. The VizioRemote Settings need to be turned off if you are into configuring your own settings every time a different movie, song, or media is played.
Bluetooth Connectivity: The BT connectivity is excellent. I have the HTC One X and it takes only a few seconds to pair the Vizio sound bar and the cellphone. Even if you have taken your phone or any other BT device to the second floor of the house/ building, the S4251W Vizio sound bar will still be able to catch the signals and play the music!
All in all, this sound bar is a great product. I loved it and I hope you will love it as much as I did. In the end, it falls down on your shoulders whether you are looking to buy the Vizio Soundbar S4251W model. Performance wise, there are other sound bars that are pretty much the same, but with a relatively higher price tag.
Word from Vizio (The Developers)
For the pinnacle of surround sound immersion and convenience, the VIZIO S4251w 5.1 Sound Bar sets the bar exceptionally high. Designed to fit any medium to large sized HDTV, this three channel sound bar features a wireless subwoofer and dedicated rear satellite speakers putting you in the center of the action.