Vizio 38" Sound Bar (SB3820-C6) Review

The Vizio 38-inch sound bar is a pretty good value. It’s definitely an upgrade over most TV speakers and despite its small size it has decent low-frequency punch. If you’re a bass lover though, you may want to consider adding your own subwoofer into the mix or upgrading to the SB3821-C6 which includes a separate subwoofer module.

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Sound Quality7.5
The Good
  • The Vizio 38-inch Sound Bar (SB3820-C6) produces detailed sound. It also has solid mid-range and performs well for both music and movies.
The Bad
  • A subwoofer is a must if you crave music with heavy bass or want to approximate a “movie theater-like” experience. The LED indicators on the front are a bit of a pain to translate.
7.5Overall Score

Vizio 38″ (SB3820-C6) Sound Bar Review

Vizio’s been one of the top sound bar makers the past few years. It’s pretty easy to see why. Their sound bars usually strike a delicate balance between value and performance that’s rare. The 38 -inch SB-3820-C6 is one of their newest speaker bars to hit the streets. The 38 inch bar is, you guessed it, 38 inches long. Its height and depth are both equal at 3 inches. You can place the bar on a stand in front of your TV or you can use the wall brackets included in the package to hang the sound bar on your wall. Unlike Vizio’s more expensive bars, the 3820-C6 does not have a metal grill cover. Instead it’s wrapped in acoustically transparent speaker cloth. Behind the cloth sets two 2.75 inch full-range drivers. The 3820 has a built-in Dolby Digital decoder and also supports DTS TruSurround.


The Vizio 38″ Sound Bar gives you a handful of connection options. The rear of the bar has optical and coaxial digital inputs. Rounding out the remaining inputs are one RCA, one 3.5 mm and one USB. The sound bar doesn’t include a subwoofer, but if you crave bass it has a subwoofer output if you decide to add your own.

Vizio 3820 Rear Connections

Connecting it to your TV is pretty straightforward. Simply find the corresponding output on your TV and you’re in business. Hooking up a cable box, blu-ray player or gaming system is just as easy as long as you have a corresponding output.


The remote that comes packaged with the Vizio SB3820-C6 is solid. It’s simple and easy to use.  I do wish it had an LED screen like the remote that’s bundled with its bigger brother the, Vizio SB4051. The screen on that model’s remote makes it extremely easy to see the command or feature that you’re trying to adjust on the sound bar. Without this your forced to translate what each of the little LED dots that light-up on the left side of the bar mean. You’ll get the hang of it after while, but it is a little cumbersome.

Vizio SB3820-C6 Review


The Vizio 38″ Sound Bar includes built-in bluetooth which only takes a few seconds to setup. Press the bluetooth button on the remote and then locate the sound bar on your bluetooth enabled device and you’re good to go.


Sound Quality

Sound bars have gained in popularity the past several years because, lets face it, TV speakers suck. Their audio is usually thin, weak and not very clear. That’s where sound bars like the 38″ Vizio SB3820-C6 step-in. For regular TV watching the sound bar was very articulate and detailed. I have several people in my close family who are hard of hearing and I would have no problem recommending this bar.


The bar has a setting called “DTS TruSurround”. This is designed to create a faux surround sound effect. I threw quite a bit of audio material at the Vizio and I never experienced the immersive surround sound that you can get with a 5 channel audio system. However, with DTS TruSurround activated the sound was fuller and had more width. If you deactivate this setting, the bar switches to stereo mode. When in stereo, if I sat directly in front of the sound bar, there seemed to be a noticeable void in the center of the bar’s audio reproduction. After noting that I kept the DTS TruSurround on at all times since it created a wall of sound in front of my listening area.


For movie watching I decided to give the Vizio 38″ sound bar a go with Mad Max: Fury Road. Again the bar delivered a detailed presentation and actually did a pretty decent job of handling low frequencies. Fury Road is tough on any speaker since the revving growling car engines register pretty low in the bass department. For a small 3″ x 38″ bar I was impressed at how much bass the little drivers could produce. The optional subwoofer output is a nice little bonus if you want a meatier low-end. On some bass heavy scenes you could tell the little drivers in the bar were struggling to keep up, so a sub is a must if you want a more cinematic experience.


The sound bar’s musical performance mirrored its movie performance. Vocals were clear and crisp and, considering that the 38″ Vizio’s only has two 2.75-inch drivers, the sound was a lot fuller than anticipated. The mid-range could have been a little meatier, but for 2.75-inch drivers it wasn’t bad. You won’t get chest pounding bass from this unit, but the bass that is produced is adequate for most musical uses.


The Verdict

Overall the Vizio (SB3820-C6) 38″ Sound Bar is a solid performer. It won’t blow you a way with its audio performance, but it will outperform your television speakers with its clear and articulate sound reproduction. The biggest complaint I have is with the indecipherable LED lights that indicates the bar’s current status and selections. An LED screen on the front of the bar or on the remote like on their more expensive SB 4051would have been far more user-friendly. Looking past this, if you’re looking for a sound bar that gives you good performance to value ratio then you can’t go wrong with the Vizio SB3820.

Where to Buy:

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