THE GOOD:  The Vizio SB4051 is a rare bird in the sound bar jungle. It has great features, tons of connectivity, and sounds pretty darn good to boot. The LCD screen on the remote is a nice touch.

 

THE BAD: The little subwoofer likes to assert its authority a little too much at times and can sound a little muddy. Sounds slightly better for movies than music.

 

SUMMARY: The Vizio SB4051 sound bar has better sound quality than bars that cost $100 – $200 more making it an excellent value. Its wide variety of connection options gives it a huge amount of flexibility.

 

 

Vizio SB4051 Review

Vizio SB4051 Review

What Comes in the Box

Opening the box that the Vizio SB4051 arrived in was a pleasant surprise. Sound bar manufacturers are notoriously stingy when it come to supplying connection cables. The 4051, on the other hand, comes with nearly every cable you’ll need to get up and running. HDMI, optical, coaxial, 3.5 mm stereo and RCA analog cables are all included.

 

The 40″ sound bar measures a meager 3″ tall x 3″ deep. The bar is well constructed with a black metal grill surrounding the front and aluminum metal plates on both ends. The bar can be wall hung or you can set it in front of your TV. At 3″ tall, it probably won’t block the IR port on most TVs, however the 4051 does not have an IR repeater so you may want to keep that in mind.

 

For the surround channels, the SB4051 comes packaged with twin 6″ wireless surround speakers. Like the sound bar, the “twins” are wrapped in a metal black powder coated grill. Aluminum metal plates are fastened to the top and bottom of both speakers.

Vizio SB4051 Rear Speakers

 

Bass frequencies are handled by a 10″ wireless subwoofer which mirrors the same design elements of the rest of the speakers in the set.

Vizio SB4051 Subwoofer

Features & Setup

The Vizio 4051 offers up an impressive supply of inputs which include HDMI (with ARC), coaxial and optical digital, stereo RCA, 3.5mm and USB. For wireless connections the 4051 has built-in bluetooth with APTX.  For audio processing, the sound bar is capable of decoding both DTS and Dolby which is a big plus.

The 4051 does not have a front display. Instead, it has a series of LED’s on the left side that indicate various parameters like the volume level etc. In lieu of a display on the sound bar, the Vizio SB4051’s remote has an LCD screen that displays the command or feature you’re adjusting on the bar. This is incredibly helpful, and I hope more manufacturers pick-up on this.

 

Setting the system up is a simple process. The wireless sub of the Vizio SB4051 is already paired with the bar out of the box. The rear speakers need to make a direct wired connection with the subwoofer so you need to place them in close proximity to each other. Vizio supplies a long run of cables for this, so you do have some flexibility with speaker placement. For listening tests I placed the subwoofer to the left of my listening area which Vizio also recommends in their quick start guide.

 

Sound Quality

The sad truth is that despite our technological advances, some laws of physics can’t be broken (at least not yet). Good bass requires a big woofer inside a large well braced cabinet. The tiny drivers inside sound bars are incapable of producing good bass, sorry just not gonna happen. With this in mind, the subwoofer paired with the Vizio SB4051 sound bar kicks out a surprising amount of deep bass although at times it can be a little heavy handed.

 

The Neighbourhood’s latest album to drop, “Wiped Out“, proved that the Vizio SB4051 was more than capable of producing room filling sound. I was surprised at how wide the sound stage was with the slender bar. The rear surrounds, while small, did a dutiful job at creating a wash of sound behind my listening area. Vocals were clear and crisp.

 

The little subwoofer mated with the 4051 digs pretty deep in the bass department. At times, the sub’s performance was a little over pronounced and boomy which occasionally overpowered the vocals. Dialing back the sub’s volume a bit helped. Also, switching over to night mode shrunk the sub’s bass response. This created a more balanced performance however, this also robbed the mid-range of some of its fullness. The subwoofer’s bass never sounded localized and it blended nicely with the sound bar. Low frequency sounds were truly omni-directional.

 

Switching to movies I decided to give Pacific Rim a go with the Vizio SB4051. Couple things I noted right off the bat. 1) The rear speakers do a really good job of creating a “real” surround sound experience, and 2) The system overall, does a slightly better job with movies than it does with music.

 

Many sound bars promise that they can create a “true” surround experience with just the front speaker bar. A recent sound bar we just reviewed, the Yamaha YSP 1600 made such claims. However, listening to this Vizio sound bar, there’s no comparison. The rear speakers do an excellent job encircling the listening area with sound. The battles between the huge mechs and Kaiju sounded epic coming thru the sound bar with every punch and ground shaking stomp vibrating my listening spot. Again, the tiny subwoofer can get a little too aggressive. Bassaholics will probably love it, others will probably want to dial it back just a bit.

 

The Verdict

The Vizio SB4051 is an excellent value. While other bars promise a “true surround” experience, the 4051 actually delivers. Not only does it deliver in the surround department it also offers up an excellent set of features and plenty of connection options. Anyone who doesn’t want to invest in large speakers should give this little sound bar serious consideration.

 

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