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Vizio M Series M215a-J6 Soundbar Review

Tested using Methodology v1.0
Reviewed Sep 22, 2022 at 08:44 am
Vizio M Series M215a-J6 Picture
7.5
Mixed Usage
8.0
Dialogue/TV Shows
7.6
Music
7.2
Movies
Channels
2.1

The Vizio M Series M215a-J6 is a budget-friendly 2.1 setup released in 2021. Like other models in the manufacturer's M Series lineup, it supports lots of different audio formats, including Dolby Atmos, which is commonly found on most streaming platforms. Given its more affordable price, it comes with fewer features than the Vizio M Series M51ax-J6 or the Vizio M Series M512a-H6—there are no rear satellites included to improve its surround sound, for example, and it doesn't have a discrete center to improve vocal clarity. That said, it remains a versatile offering for its budget price tag.

Our Verdict

7.5 Mixed Usage

The Vizio M215A-J6 is good for mixed usage. Overall, this simple 2.1 bar is ideal for listening to music, with a balanced sound that ensures voices and instruments are clear and present in the mix. It has a typical selection of enhancement tools compared to other bars in its price range, like bass and treble adjustments. While it tries to stand out from the competition with its additional features, including Dolby Atmos support, unfortunately, it's not as good as its competition for movies and TV shows. There are lip-synching issues due to high latency, and the lack of rumble in the low-bass takes away from the immersive feel. If you mostly listen to music but still want a versatile bar, it's a fair choice—however, movie lovers will want something more premium.

Pros
  • Bass and treble adjustments.
  • Gets loud.
  • Dolby Atmos support.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • High latency over all connections.
8.0 Dialogue/TV Shows

The Vizio M215A-J6 is great for dialogue-focused TV shows and podcasts. It's a 2.1 setup, so it doesn't come with a discrete center—however, voices remain clear and present in the mix, and you don't have trouble following along with the action on screen. There's even a dialogue enhancement tool on hand to make voices more clear and crisp. Unfortunately, the bar's latency is high, so you'll notice a bit of a delay between the audio you hear and the visuals on screen, especially when characters are speaking. You have to focus to notice the issue, so it may not be a deal breaker, but it's worth noting if you're sensitive to lip-synching issues.

Pros
  • Bass and treble adjustments.
  • Dialogue enhancement feature.
Cons
  • High latency over all connections.
7.6 Music

The Vizio M215A-J6 is good for music. The bar offers a balanced sound, especially in the mids, which is where most voices and lead instruments reproduce. As a result, it's suitable for listening to most music genres, and you get a detailed sound that's pleasant to the ears. You can even customize its sound using its bass and treble adjustments, which is nice. It gets loud enough to fill larger rooms with sound, too. However, the bar struggles to reproduce the deep rumble with bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop, so you don't feel the floor shake when you listen to these types of music.

Pros
  • Bass and treble adjustments.
  • Gets loud.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
7.2 Movies

The Vizio M215A-J6 is decent for movies. Although it's a 2.1 bar, it supports a lot of different audio formats, including Dolby Digital and Dolby Atmos content. Both are commonly found on streaming platforms as well as Blu-ray discs. That said, the bar has to downmix these formats into stereo to play them, so you can't take advantage of the immersive technology within. The lack of bass is evident in action-packed scenes, and you notice some delay with lip-synching due to the high latency. It's a versatile bar, but unfortunately, it doesn't reproduce high-quality movies as well as other options on the market.

Pros
  • Bass and treble adjustments.
  • Dolby Atmos support.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • High latency over all connections.
  • 7.5 Mixed Usage
  • 8.0 Dialogue/TV Shows
  • 7.6 Music
  • 7.2 Movies
  1. Updated Sep 22, 2022: Review published.
  2. Updated Sep 09, 2022: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style - Bar

The Vizio M215A-J6's bar has a very similar design to the Vizio V Series V21x-J8. Overall, it's made of plastic, and there's fabric covering the front and the sides. The controls are located on the top, while the inputs are on the back of the bar.

Design
Style - Subwoofer

Like most Vizio subs, this model has more of a cube-like design. It's mostly made of melamine and sits up on plastic pegs with rubber grips to keep it from moving. The port is in the rear, while the speaker is underneath.

Design
Style - Satellites
Design
Dimensions - Bar
Width 35.9" (91.3 cm)
Height 2.2" (5.6 cm)
Depth 3.5" (8.9 cm)

The Vizio M215A-J6 is a fairly wide bar, although it still fits between the legs of a 55" TV stand. Since it isn't very tall, it doesn't obscure your TV screen, either.

Design
Dimensions - Subwoofer
Width 8.3" (21.1 cm)
Height 9.9" (25.2 cm)
Depth 8.3" (21.1 cm)

The Vizio M215A-J6's subwoofer is a bit larger than the model that comes with the Vizio V Series V21x-J8. It's about the same width as an average desktop computer. However, it isn't as tall.

Design
Dimensions - Satellites
Width N/A
Height N/A
Depth N/A
Design
Back - Bar
Bar Mounting
Universal (holes on underside)

The back of the bar has some inputs, including the opening for the power cable. If you want to mount the bar to the wall, there are some universal holes located underneath. The wall-mount kit is included, too, which is handy.

Design
Back - Subwoofer
Enclosure
Ported

There's a port on the back of the sub. You'll also find the input for the power cable, as well as the pairing button.

Design
Back - Satellites
Mounting
No
7.0
Design
Build Quality

The Vizio M215A-J6 has a decent build quality. Overall, the bar is mostly made of plastic, and the sub is mostly made of melamine. Both materials feel solid and durable. However, the fabric on the bar could collect dust over time, and its loose design means it could rip if you aren't careful when handling it. We also had an issue with the bar's remote—it wouldn't connect to the bar, even after completing a factory reset. You can always buy another remote from Vizio to fix the issue, but it's a bit annoying.

Design
In The Box
HDMI Cable Length
1.9 m (6.2 ft)
Digital Optical Cable Length
1.5 m (4.9 ft)

  • Manuals
  • Wall mount template
  • Wall mount brackets
  • Remote with batteries (2x AAA)
  • Optical cable
  • HDMI cable
  • 2x power cables

Sound
8.1
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response
Tested Preset
Direct
Slope
0.24
Std. Err.
2.62 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
34.1 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
19.3 kHz

The Vizio M215A-J6 has a great stereo frequency response. Its sound profile is quite balanced, especially in the mids, which is where most voices and lead instruments reproduce. As a result, it's especially suitable for listening to music, and you don't have any trouble hearing voices in the mix. The bar struggles to reproduce an extended low-bass, so you don't feel the deep rumble in bass-heavy genres like EDM or hip-hop.

8.2
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response With Preliminary Calibration
Suggested Preset
Direct
Suggested Bass Setting
3
Suggested Treble Setting
0
Slope
0.10
Std. Err.
2.43 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
34.1 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
19.3 kHz

You can get a more balanced sound from the Vizio M215A-J6 by setting its bass to '3'. There isn't a tremendous difference from its default sound—it's still even in the mid-range, ensuring that voices and lead instruments are present and detailed in the mix. However, the extra bass adds a little more punch in the mid-bass. You still don't get the deep rumble in the low-bass, but most bass adjustment features can't make up for this on their own, so that's not too surprising.

7.0
Sound
Stereo Soundstage
Crosstalk Error
1.89 dB

The Vizio M215A-J6 has a decent stereo soundstage. The soundstage is perceived to be a bit wider than the bar itself, but it doesn't offer any tricks to make the sound extend to the walls of your room. Its focus is good, meaning you can pinpoint sound effects to a general area in the space around you. However, it doesn't seem as accurate as some of the more premium bars we've tested.

7.3
Sound
Stereo Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
96.9 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
3.44 dB

The Vizio M215A-J6 gets loud, so it fills up larger rooms and more open spaces with sound. That said, there's some compression when you push it to max volume, so audio reproduction isn't quite as clear or as pure as it is at lower volumes.

7.8
Sound
Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.32
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
2.68

The Vizio M215A-J6's stereo THD performance is very good. At normal listening volumes, distortion falls within good limits, meaning that audio reproduces with clarity and purity. Like most bars, it sees a slight jump in distortion when pushed to max volume. However, distortion is hard to hear with real-life content, so unless you're a really astute audiophile, it shouldn't be an issue.

7.1
Sound
Center
Localization
Phantom
Slope
0.16
Std. Err.
2.57 dB
SPL @ Max Volume
97.5 dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.28
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
2.84

The Vizio M215A-J6 is a 2.1 bar, so it doesn't come with a discrete center channel. Instead, it uses its left and right stereo channels to simulate a "phantom" center. While the performance isn't as accurate as what you see with more advanced setups, it's still suitable for most uses. Thanks to its even frequency response, voices are reproduced with clarity, and you won't have any trouble following the action on screen.

4.6
Sound
Surround 5.1
Localization
Stereo (Downmix)
Slope
0.14
Std. Err.
2.56 dB
SPL @ Max Volume
97.3 dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.35
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
3.05
7.1 Rears
No

The Vizio M215A-J6 isn't the best choice for 5.1 surround sound formats like Dolby Digital or DTS. Since it's a 2.1 setup, it has to downmix this content into stereo to play it, which doesn't offer the same immersive feel. On the upside, since its frequency response is very balanced, sound effects clearly reproduce—you just don't get the sense that they're coming from the space all around you. Instead, it seems like audio only comes from a speaker placed in front of you.

4.1
Sound
Height (Atmos)
Localization
Stereo (Downmix)
Slope
0.26
Std. Err.
2.70 dB
SPL @ Max Volume
85.2 dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
2.27
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
0.52

Again, the Vizio M215A-J6 isn't the best choice for listening to Dolby Atmos content. Atmos is designed to give the feeling that the action on screen is taking place all around you—not just to the sides, but above and behind you as well. However, since this 2.1 setup has to downmix Atmos content into stereo in order to play it, you can't take advantage of this unique technology. Sound effects are clear in the mix, thanks to the balanced frequency response, but it all seems like it's taking place in front of you. The bar can't replicate a lot of height, and the lack of bass is noticeable in action-focused scenes. It's nice that the bar gives you the option to listen to Atmos content, but if you watch a ton of object-based movies, you'll likely want something more premium.

6.6
Sound
Sound Enhancement Features
Room Correction
No
Dialogue Enhancement
Yes
Auto-Volume/Night Mode
Yes
Subwoofer Level Adjustment
Yes
Bass Adjustment
Yes
Treble Adjustment
Yes
EQ
Presets
Surround Level Adjustment
No
Rear Level Adjustment
No
Height Level Adjustment
No
Virtual Surround
Yes

The Vizio M215A-J6 has a fair selection of sound enhancement features. As with most bars in its price range, you don't get a room correction feature, so it sounds a little different depending on the unique acoustics of your living space. Fortunately, you have a few tools on hand to help customize it accordingly, including bass and treble adjustments as well as its EQ presets: 'Movie', 'Music', 'Direct', and 'Game'. The effect button on the remote allows you to turn on the virtual surround feature, called Virtual DTS:X.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Physical Inputs - Bar
Optical Audio In
1
HDMI ARC
1 (shared)
HDMI Out
1 (shared)
Full HDMI In
1
Analog Audio In 3.5mm (Aux)
1
RCA In
No
USB for Files
1
Ethernet
No

The Vizio M215A-J6 connects to your TV using either its HDMI or Optical inputs. It's a nice touch that both cables are included with purchase, meaning you can connect your devices right away. There's an AUX VA port that lets you connect the bar to third-party voice assistant devices.

10
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - ARC
eARC
Yes
Dolby Atmos
Yes
Dolby Digital
Yes
Dolby Digital Plus
Yes
DTS
Yes
DTS:X (eARC only)
Yes
Dolby TrueHD (eARC only)
Yes
DTS-HD MA (eARC only)
Yes
5.1 PCM (eARC only)
Yes

The Vizio M215A-J6 supports many different audio formats via ARC. It can playback common 5.1 surround sound formats like Dolby Digital as well as lossless and object-based formats like Dolby Atmos. However, it has to downmix this content into stereo to play it.

10
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Full HDMI In
Dolby Atmos
Yes
DTS:X
Yes
Dolby Digital
Yes
Dolby Digital Plus
Yes
DTS
Yes
Dolby TrueHD
Yes
DTS-HD MA
Yes
5.1 PCM
Yes

The Vizio M215A-J6 also supports lots of audio formats via HDMI In. You're likely to come across formats like Dolby Digital and Dolby Atmos on most streaming platforms, as well as with Blu-ray discs. The 2.1 bar downmixes this content into stereo to play it, though.

10
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Optical
Dolby Digital
Yes
DTS
Yes

The Vizio M215A-J6 also supports Dolby Digital and DTS content via Optical. However, it downmixes this content into stereo to play it.

5.2
Connectivity
Latency
ARC
124 ms
Optical
149 ms
Full HDMI In
168 ms

The Vizio M215A-J6 doesn't offer the best latency performance. Over all connections, latency is quite high. It isn't that distracting with real-life content, but if you pay close attention, you notice issues with lip-synching. Some apps and TVs compensate for latency differently, but we noticed the problem across multiple platforms.

6.0
Connectivity
Wireless Playback
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
No
Chromecast built-in
No
Apple AirPlay
No

The Vizio M215A-J6 is a simple bar with Bluetooth support. You can wirelessly stream audio from your mobile devices to the bar over this connection, which is nice.

Connectivity
Other Input Specifications
4k @ 60 Hz Passthrough
Yes
4k @ 60 Hz @ 10 bit Passthrough
Yes
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 Passthrough
Yes
HDR10 Passthrough
Yes

The Vizio M215A-J6 can passthrough some of the highest bandwidth signals, including Dolby Vision Passthrough. It doesn't do 4k @ 120Hz, though.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
Yes

The sub connects to the bar wirelessly, so you only have to plug it into a power source to get it to work.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless
No
Additional Features
Additional Features
Interface
Display
No

The Vizio M215A-J6 doesn't come with a display. Instead, there are a few lights on the left side of the bar, which change colors and patterns depending on the settings you use. You can see the manual to learn what each design means.

Additional Features
Bar Controls

On top of the bar, you find some simple controls that let you power the bar on and off, change the input, activate Bluetooth pairing, and adjust the volume. That said, you need the remote to change other settings and features.

Additional Features
Remote
Universal Remote
No

The remote is pretty simple, but it gives you access to all the bar's features and customization tools. There's even a display screen at the top. Our model's remote didn't work, even after we used Vizio's support page about the issues to reset it. If you experience the same problem, you can always buy another remote from the manufacturer or can use another Vizio remote to control the bar.

Additional Features
Voice Assistants Support
Amazon Alexa
No
Google Assistant
No
Apple Siri
No

The Vizio M215A-J6 doesn't offer built-in voice assistant capabilities. However, if you already own a device like an Amazon Echo or a Google Nest, you can connect them to the bar using its AUX VA port. As a result, you can control it with your voice.

Additional Features
App
App Name No App
iOS No
Android No
Acts As A Remote
No
Controls Soundbar's Settings
No
Casts Device Files
No
Additional Features
Other Features
Power Saving
Auto-off
HDMI CEC (TV Remote Control)
Yes

The Vizio M215A-J6 comes with an eco-power mode that shuts the bar off automatically after a period of inactivity. It's off by default, though, so you need to turn it on to get it to work. This bar also supports HDMI CEC, so you can use your TV remote to control some of its basic functions.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Vizio M215A-J6 is available in 'Black', and you can see the label for the model we tested here.

If you come across another version of the Vizio M215A-J6, let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Soundbars

The Vizio M215A-J6 is a 2.1 soundbar released in 2021. Despite its budget-friendly price point, it offers versatile performance, as it supports more immersive object-based formats like Dolby Atmos. As with the comparable TCL Alto 8i, its Atmos performance isn't very impressive, but it's probably the best you can get for the price. That said, for a little extra, you can find a much more immersive sound with the Vizio M Series M51a-H6 or the Vizio M Series M51ax-J6.

See also our recommendations for the best Dolby Atmos soundbars, the best budget soundbars, and the best Vizio soundbars.

Vizio M Series M51ax-J6

The Vizio M Series M51ax-J6 is better than the Vizio M Series M215a-J6. They're both 2021 models from the manufacturer, but the M51ax-J6 is a 5.1 setup and comes with two rear satellites. As a result, it performs much better with surround and Atmos content, and it even has a center channel to improve vocal clarity. It's pricier than the M215a-J6, so if you mostly listen to music, you may want to stick with the cheaper model. However, the M51ax-J6 is a more versatile soundbar.

Vizio M Series M51a-H6

The Vizio M Series M51a-H6 is a 5.1 soundbar that offers better overall performance than the 2.1 Vizio M Series M215a-J6. The 5.1 option comes with two rear satellites, which dramatically improve its performance with Atmos and surround sound. Its discrete center channel means that it has greater vocal clarity, too. The 2.1 is a fair option if you just listen to stereo content, like most music, as it's a more affordable choice. That said, the 5.1 Vizio performs better overall.

Vizio V Series V51-H6

The Vizio V Series V51-H6 and the Vizio M Series M215a-J6 have two different setups, and based on your listening habits, you may prefer one over the other. The V Series is an affordable 5.1 setup that comes with rear satellites included, unlike the M Series, so it's much better for listening to surround sound. That said, unlike the M Series, it doesn't support Dolby Atmos content. The M Series' Atmos performance isn't the most impressive, though.

TCL Alto 8i

The TCL Alto 8i and the Vizio M Series M215a-J6 are both budget-friendly setups with Dolby Atmos support; however, the Vizio is better overall. Since it comes with a dedicated subwoofer, it can reproduce more low-bass, so you feel more rumble in action-packed scenes. There are more sound enhancement features on hand to customize it, as well as DTS support, which the TCL lacks. Neither bar offers a stellar Atmos performance, but they're an affordable alternative to more premium options on the market.

Discussions