Vizio V Series V21-H8 Soundbar Review

Tested using Methodology v1.0
Reviewed Oct 08, 2020 at 09:23 am
Vizio V Series V21-H8 Picture
7.0
Mixed Usage
7.7
Dialogue/TV Shows
7.4
Music
6.4
Movies
This soundbar was replaced by the Vizio V Series V21x-J8
Channels
2.1

The Vizio V Series 2.1 Sound Bar is a 2.1 soundbar with a dedicated subwoofer. It has a boomy sound profile that's well-suited to listening to bass-heavy music and action-packed TV shows. There are even an HDMI ARC port and a dedicated AUX port for connecting to voice assistant speakers. This bar can get pretty loud, but there's a bit of distortion at max volume. However, as a 2.1 setup, it downmixes surround content into stereo, and it doesn't support Atmos content. That said, it has a few EQ presets and a virtual surround mode, so you have some ability to customize its sound.

Our Verdict

7.0 Mixed Usage

The Vizio V21-H8 is fair for mixed usage. This 2.1 soundbar has a bass-heavy sound profile that adds an extra boom and punch to your favorite songs. Its balanced mid-range keeps dialogue and vocals present in the mix, and there's even a dialogue enhancement feature to help make voices sound clear and present. However, it downmixes surround content into stereo, and it doesn't support Dolby Atmos content, so it won't provide a very immersive movie-watching experience.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
  • Four EQ presets.
Cons
  • Doesn't support Atmos content.
  • Some distortion at max volume.
7.7 Dialogue/TV Shows

The Vizio V21-H8 is decent for dialogue-heavy content like TV shows. It has a balanced mid-range, so voices sound clear and present in the mix. The bar can get loud, and there's also a 'Dialogue' EQ preset that acts as a dialogue enhancement feature. You can even stream podcasts and audiobooks to the bar from your phone wirelessly via Bluetooth. However, this 2.1 soundbar doesn't have a dedicated center channel, and it doesn't support other connectivity options like Wi-Fi or Chromecast.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
  • Dialogue enhancement feature.
Cons
  • Some distortion at max volume.
  • Doesn't support Wi-Fi or Chromecast connectivity.
7.4 Music

The Vizio V21-H8 is satisfactory for music. Its default sound profile is a bit bass-heavy, making it well-suited for listening to bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. It also comes with four EQ presets and bass and treble adjustments to help you customize the sound to your liking. It can get loud, but there's a bit of distortion when you play it at max volume.

Pros
  • Four EQ presets.
Cons
  • Some distortion at max volume.
6.4 Movies

The Vizio V21-H8 is mediocre for movies. This soundbar can get loud, and its boomy sound profile adds an extra punch to action-packed scenes and movie scores. However, it downmixes surround content into stereo, which doesn't provide a very immersive listening experience. It also doesn't support Dolby Atmos content, which may be disappointing for some listeners.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
Cons
  • Doesn't support Atmos content.
  • Some distortion at max volume.
  • 7.0 Mixed Usage
  • 7.7 Dialogue/TV Shows
  • 7.4 Music
  • 6.4 Movies
  1. Updated Feb 18, 2021: Converted to Test Bench 1.0.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The Vizio V21-H8 is an entry-level soundbar from Vizio's 2020 lineup. It's a 2.1 system with a wireless subwoofer, and it comes with more features than the 2019 Vizio SB2020n-G6. Its main competitors are the Sony HT-S200F, the Sony HT-S350, and the Samsung HW-T450.

Design
Design
Style - Bar

The Vizio V21-H8 is a plain, simple soundbar. The top, back, and underside of the bar is black plastic, and there's fabric covering the front and the sides.

Design
Style - Subwoofer

The subwoofer is made of melamine with a plastic top, and it sits on four plastic pegs. There's a port on the back side, along with a pairing button.

Design
Style - Satellites

There aren't any satellites in this setup. If you're looking for a setup with dedicated satellite speakers, check out the Vizio V Series V51-H6.

Design
Dimensions - Bar
Width 36.0" (91.5 cm)
Height 2.3" (5.8 cm)
Depth 3.2" (8.2 cm)

The Vizio V21 soundbar is long, but it should still fit between the legs of most 55" TVs. Also, it isn't very tall, so it shouldn't block your TV screen unless your TV sits flush against your table.

Design
Dimensions - Subwoofer
Width 8.3" (21.2 cm)
Height 9.8" (25.0 cm)
Depth 8.3" (21.2 cm)

The subwoofer is about the same width as an average desktop PC, but unlike many other soundbars with an external subwoofer such as the TCL Alto 6+, it's also fairly short. It connects wirelessly to the bar, so you can place it anywhere in your room as long as it can connect to a power source.

Design
Dimensions - Satellites
Width N/A
Height N/A
Depth N/A

There are no satellites in this setup.

Design
Back - Bar
Bar Mounting
Universal (holes on underside)

The back of the bar has two openings for the power cable and the input ports. You can also wall-mount this bar using the universal holes found on its underside.

Design
Back - Subwoofer
Enclosure
Ported

There's a port on the back of the subwoofer, as well as the power cable input and a pairing button.

Design
Back - Satellites
Mounting
No

There are no satellites in this setup.

7.0
Design
Build Quality

The Vizio V21-H8 has a decent build quality. The sides of the subwoofer are made of melamine, while the top is made of plastic. The bar itself is mostly made of plastic, which feels solid and durable. However, the fabric covering the front and sides of the bar seems like it could get dirty or rip easily. For a better-built soundbar, check out the Vizio M-Series M21d-H8R or the Samsung HW-A550.

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

  • Manual
  • Remote
  • 2x AAA batteries for remote
  • Brackets with screws and wall template
  • HDMI cable
  • Optical cable
  • 2x power cable
  • Stereo RCA to 3.5mm Audio cable
  • 3.5mm to 3.5mm Audio cable

Sound
7.6
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response
Tested Preset
Music
Slope
-0.86
Std. Err.
4.28 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
34.1 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
16.5 kHz

The Vizio V21 has a decent stereo frequency response. It has a boomy, bass-heavy sound profile, making it suitable for listening to bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. Its mid-range is quite balanced, so vocals and dialogue are clear and present. There are four EQ presets available: 'Movie', 'Game', 'Music', and 'Dialogue'. We tested this soundbar using the default 'Music' preset.

7.6
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response With Preliminary Calibration
Suggested Preset
Music
Suggested Bass Setting
-4
Suggested Treble Setting
0
Slope
-0.09
Std. Err.
2.81 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
43.0 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
16.0 kHz
7.0
Sound
Stereo Soundstage
Crosstalk Error
2.99 dB

The Vizio V21 has a satisfactory stereo soundstage. It sounds about as wide as the bar itself, but the bar doesn't have any tricks to make it sound wider than that. Its focus is okay, so objects like voices and instruments seem to come from an accurate, pinpoint location rather than a general area.

7.5
Sound
Stereo Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
95.8 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
2.88 dB

This soundbar has good stereo dynamics. It can get louder than the Vizio V Series V21x-J8, but there's a bit of compression when you play it at max volume, especially in the bass range.

7.7
Sound
Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.45
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
1.78

This soundbar has a good stereo total harmonic distortion performance. At normal listening volumes, the bar produces a clean and pure sound. There's a bit of a jump in THD at max volume, but it may not be audible with real-life content.

6.4
Sound
Center
Localization
Phantom
Slope
-0.83
Std. Err.
4.33 dB
SPL @ Max Volume
95.8 dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.43
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
1.79

The Vizio V21-H8 has an alright center performance. This 2.1 soundbar doesn't have a dedicated center speaker. It uses its left and right speakers to create a sound in the center, but this can sound a bit more diffused than a bar with a dedicated center channel. That said, it has a balanced mid-range, so voices and dialogue still sound pretty clear and accurate.

3.9
Sound
Surround 5.1
Localization
Stereo (Downmix)
Slope
0.79
Std. Err.
3.62 dB
SPL @ Max Volume
88.2 dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.90
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
3.51
7.1 Rears
No

This soundbar has a poor surrounds performance. It has to downmix surround content into stereo, which doesn't sound as clear and accurate as a home theater setup. Surround objects seem like they're coming from in front of you rather than all around you.

0
Sound
Height (Atmos)
Localization
Not Supported
Slope
N/A
Std. Err.
N/A
SPL @ Max Volume
N/A
Weighted THD @ 80dB
N/A
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
N/A

This soundbar doesn't have height channels and doesn't support Atmos.

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 V21 has good sound enhancement features. There's an auto-volume mode that helps balance the volume level between different programs, which you can access using the TVOL button on the remote. There are also four EQ presets to help you customize the bar's sound: 'Movie', 'Music', 'Dialogue', and 'Game'. Unlike the Samsung HW-A450, there's a Virtual Surround setting that can help make your favorite movies sound more immersive, although we don't test for this.

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

The Vizio V21-H8 has several inputs. There's two AUX ports: one for analog audio and one for a voice assistant speaker only. However, there isn't a Full HDMI In, so you can't use the soundbar as a hub between your devices.

7.6
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - ARC
eARC
No
Dolby Atmos
No
Dolby Digital
Yes
Dolby Digital Plus
Yes
DTS
Yes
DTS:X (eARC only)
No
Dolby TrueHD (eARC only)
No
DTS-HD MA (eARC only)
No
5.1 PCM (eARC only)
No

The Vizio V21-H8 supports Dolby Digital and DTS content over its ARC port, and these formats are found commonly on Blu-ray discs and streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu. However, it doesn't support higher-end formats like Dolby Atmos.

0
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Full HDMI In
Dolby Atmos
No
DTS:X
No
Dolby Digital
No
Dolby Digital Plus
No
DTS
No
Dolby TrueHD
No
DTS-HD MA
No
5.1 PCM
No

This soundbar doesn't have a Full HDMI In port.

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

The Vizio V21-H8 supports Dolby Digital and DTS content via Optical Audio In, but it's downmixed to 2.1.

8.1
Connectivity
Latency
ARC
59 ms
Optical
52 ms
Full HDMI In
N/A
6.0
Connectivity
Wireless Playback
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
No
Chromecast built-in
No
Apple AirPlay
No

The Vizio V21 has acceptable wireless playback connectivity options. You can use Bluetooth to stream audio wirelessly to the bar. However, the bar lacks other wireless connections that could make it more versatile.

Connectivity
Other Input Specifications
4k @ 60 Hz Passthrough
No
4k @ 60 Hz @ 10 bit Passthrough
No
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 Passthrough
No
HDR10 Passthrough
No

This soundbar doesn't have an HDMI In port, so it doesn't support 4k passthrough.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
Yes

The subwoofer connects to the bar wirelessly. The only wired connection is the power cable.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless
No

There aren't any satellites in this setup.

Additional Features
Additional Features
Interface
Display
No

The Vizio V21 doesn't have a display. Instead, there are indicator lights on the left side of the bar that change colors based on the inputs. There's also audio feedback when you select a new preset mode.

Additional Features
Bar Controls

On top of the bar, there are a few buttons that let you control its basic functions. You can power the bar on/off, change the input, activate Bluetooth pairing mode, and adjust the volume.

Additional Features
Remote
Universal Remote
No

The remote control is fairly simple, and allows you to control all of the soundbar's settings. If you buy the Vizio V21-H8R variant, there's a screen on the remote.

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

This soundbar doesn't have a companion app.

Additional Features
Other Features
Power Saving
Auto-off
HDMI CEC (TV Remote Control)
Yes

With the Eco Power mode turned on, the bar will automatically turn off after some time of inactivity. It also has HDMI CEC support, so you can use your TV's remote to control the soundbar.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Vizio V21-H8 comes in one color variant: Black. You can see the label for the model we tested here. There's also another variant of this soundbar, the Vizio V21-H8R, which has a similar look but comes with a screen on the remote. If you come across any other variants of this soundbar, let us know in the discussion section below so we can update our review.

Compared To Other Soundbars

The Vizio V21-H8 is a 2.1 soundbar from Vizio's 2020 lineup. It's fairly straightforward, but it does have a few sound enhancement features, including four EQ presets and a designated AUX port for a voice assistant speaker. However, unlike some of the more premium soundbars we've tested, it doesn't support Dolby Atmos content, and you can only stream audio to the bar via Bluetooth. If you're looking for more soundbars, check out our recommendations for the best soundbars under $200, the best soundbars for dialogue, and the best soundbars under $300.

Vizio V Series V51-H6

The Vizio V Series V51-H6 is a better soundbar than the Vizio V Series V21-H8. The V51-H6 is a 5.1 setup that comes with dedicated satellite speakers, unlike the 2.1 V21-H8. It also has a better-balanced, more neutral sound profile. However, the V21-H8 comes with a second USB port for voice assistant speakers, which some users may prefer.

Vizio M-Series M21d-H8R

The Vizio V Series V21-H8 is a better soundbar than the Vizio M-Series M21d-H8R. The V Series has a more neutral sound profile and a better soundstage performance. Also, it gets louder with much less compression at max volume. However, the M-Series is better-built, and it has a Full HDMI In port that supports 4k passthrough.

Samsung HW-A550

The Samsung HW-A550 is a better soundbar than the Vizio V Series V21-H8. The Samsung is better-built with a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box, which some users may prefer. Also, it comes with a graphic EQ for sound customization and a Full HDMI In port, unlike the Vizio.

Samsung HW-A450

The Samsung HW-A450 is a slightly better soundbar than the Vizio V Series V21-H8. The Samsung has a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box, which some users may prefer, it can reach its max volume with fewer compression artifacts, and it has a graphic EQ so that you can customize its sound. However, the Vizio is better-built, offers more inputs such as an HDMI ARC port, offers a better surround performance. 

Vizio SB36512-F6

The Vizio SB36512-F6 is a better soundbar than the Vizio V Series V21-H8. The 5.1.2 SB36512-F6 has a better-balanced sound profile that's suited for an even wider array of audio content. It also has discrete surround speakers, and it supports Atmos content, unlike the 2.1 V Series. It also more connectivity options and is compatible with more wireless playback options, like Chromecast and Wi-Fi. It can also be controlled via its companion app. That said, the V Series comes with a dialogue enhancement feature, which the SB36512-F6 lacks.

Polk Audio SIGNA S2

The Vizio V Series V21-H8 and the Polk Audio SIGNA S2 are both 2.1 soundbars with similar overall performance; however, the Vizio has a few more features. The Vizio supports Dolby Digital Plus and DTS content, unlike the Polk. The Vizio also has more sound enhancement features, including a virtual surround mode. Also, it has a USB port and an additional AUX port for voice assistant speakers.

TCL Alto 6+

The Vizio V Series V21-H8 is a better soundbar for music and movies than the TCL Alto 6+. The Vizio can produce a thumpier, boomy sound, and its center, as well as surround performances, are better. It offers more sound enhancement features.

Samsung HW-T550

The Samsung HW-T550 is a better 2.1 soundbar than the Vizio V Series V21-H8. The Samsung is better-built, and it has a more neutral, less boomy sound profile. It also comes with a graphic EQ so you can customize its sound and a Full HDMI In port so you can use it as a hub between your devices. That said, the Vizio has less distortion when it's played at max volume, so it may be a better option for use at loud parties.

Samsung HW-T450

The Vizio V Series V21-H8 is a somewhat better overall soundbar than the Samsung HW-T450. The Vizio is better-built, and it comes with more connectivity options, including an HDMI ARC port and two AUX ports. It also has more sound enhancement features, including dialogue enhancement. That said, the Samsung has less compression at max volume, so it may be better suited for use during loud parties.

Vizio V Series V21x-J8

The Vizio V Series V21-H8 is a better soundbar for mixed usage than the Vizio V Series V21x-J8. The V21-H8 has a slightly more balanced sound profile out-of-the-box, and it gets louder with less compression at max volume. Also, it has a better center channel performance. That said, the V21x-J8 has an AUX In port for third-party voice assistant devices, and its sub is a bit smaller.

Sony HT-S200F

The Sony HT-S200F and the Vizio V Series V21-H8 are similar 2.1 soundbars, so depending on your listening habits, you may prefer one over the other. The Vizio has a dedicated subwoofer, unlike the Sony, so it has a more extended bass. It also has more sound enhancement features. However, the Sony has less compression at max volume, so it's better-suited for use in loud parties.

Sony HT-S350

The Vizio V Series V21-H8 is a better overall soundbar than the Sony HT-S350. The Vizio has a better-balanced sound profile with a lower-extended bass than the Sony, and it also has more sound enhancement features thanks to its bass and treble adjustments. The Vizio also comes with AUX ports, and it supports DTS content, unlike the Sony. However, the Sony is better-built and seems a bit more durable.

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