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Vizio V Series V21-H8 Soundbar Review

Tested using Methodology v1.0
Updated Dec 15, 2021 at 03:12 pm
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 setup 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's 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 decent for mixed usage. On its 'Music' preset, this soundbar has a bass-heavy sound profile that adds extra boom to your audio. Vocals and lead instruments are reproduced clearly, and you can use its bass and treble adjustments to customize its sound. However, there's no Atmos support, and its surround performance is poor.

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 good for dialogue-centric content like TV shows. It can reproduce voices clearly and accurately, and there's even a dialogue enhancement mode to make them more clear and crisp. However, due to its 2.1 setup, it has a phantom center, so voices aren't as accurately localized to a pinpoint location in the soundstage.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
  • Dialogue enhancement feature.
Cons
  • Some distortion at max volume.
7.4 Music

The Vizio V21-H8 is satisfactory for music. On its default 'Music' preset, it has a boomy sound profile with extra punch and warmth in the bass range. Vocals and lead instruments are reproduced clearly, though this may be overwhelming for some listeners. Fortunately, there are bass and treble adjustments to help you customize its sound to your liking.

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

The Vizio V21-H8 is passable for movies. This 2.1 setup has to downmix surround content into stereo to play it, which doesn't sound very immersive. Also, it doesn't support Atmos content. That said, it can get pretty loud, and it can reproduce dialogue quite clearly. The extra boom in the bass helps accentuate action-packed scenes, too.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
Cons
  • Doesn't support Atmos content.
  • 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.
  2. Updated Oct 08, 2020: Review published.
  3. Updated Sep 29, 2020: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style - Bar

The Vizio V21-H8 is a plain, simple soundbar. The top, back, and underside of the bar are 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

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 inch 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
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
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 good stereo frequency response. On its 'Music' preset, it has a boomy sound profile due to the overemphasized bass range. Vocals and lead instruments are reproduced clearly and accurately, but you notice extra punch and warmth in your audio, which can be overwhelming for some users. There are also some bass and treble adjustments to help you customize its sound.

7.5
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

With calibration, the Vizio V Series V21-H8 has a good stereo frequency response. It has a more neutral, balanced sound profile with its bass set to '-4'. There's still a little extra punch in the bass range, though. That said, it's suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content.

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, so audio reproduction isn't as clear.

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 acceptable center channel performance. Due to its 2.1 configuration, it has to use its left and right channels to simulate a phantom center. This doesn't sound as clear or as real as discrete localization, though. You may notice that voices aren't accurately anchored to a pinpoint location in the soundstage.

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
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 an adequate selection of sound enhancement features. You can customize its sound using its bass and treble adjustments as well as its EQ presets, including 'Movie', 'Music', 'Dialogue', and 'Game'. You can even use the TVOL button on the remote to activate the night mode feature when watching TV at night. However, it lacks premium sound enhancement features, such as a graphic EQ and room correction.

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 are two AUX ports: one for analog audio and one for a voice assistant speaker only. You can connect it to your TV via ARC or Optical In. 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
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

The Vizio V21-H8 has a great latency performance. It has fairly low latency, so the audio you hear is in sync with the video you see on the screen. As a result, it's a solid choice for watching videos and movies. Some apps and TVs compensate for latency differently, so your real-world experience can vary.

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. 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 video 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
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 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

This soundbar doesn't have built-in voice assistant support. However, the manufacturer says that you can use it with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri if you connect a third-party voice assistant device via the designated AUX port. Vizio also says that you can pair a voice assistant device to the bar via Bluetooth.

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

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 soundbar 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 soundbar is a 2.1 setup 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. 

Sonos Arc

The Sonos Arc is better than the Vizio V Series V21-H8. The Sonos is better built, and it supports Dolby Atmos content and voice assistants. It has better soundstage, center, and surround performances, and it also comes with room correction. However, the Vizio comes with EQ presets, which some listeners may prefer for sound customization.

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. 

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.

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.

TCL Alto 8i

The Vizio V Series V21-H8 is a bit better for mixed usage than the TCL Alto 8i. The Vizio comes with a dedicated subwoofer that can reproduce a more extended low-bass. It also comes with more sound enhancement features, like dialogue enhancement. However, it doesn't support Dolby Atmos content like the TCL. Some listeners may also prefer the TCL's standalone design.

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.

Samsung HW-A650

The Samsung HW-A650 is better than the Vizio V Series V21-H8. The Samsung is a 3.1 setup that's better built with a discrete center channel to help anchor voices in the soundstage. Unlike the Vizio, it also has a Full HDMI In port. Some listeners may also prefer its more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box. That said, the 2.1 Vizio can reproduce a more extended low-bass.

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.

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.

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 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.

Vizio SB2020n-J6

The Vizio V Series V21-H8 is better than the Vizio SB2020n-J6. The V21-H8 is a 2.1 setup with a dedicated subwoofer that can reproduce a more extended low-bass. It gets louder, and it has a better soundstage performance. Also, whereas the SB2020n-J6 can only support PCM content, the V21-H8 supports surround sound like Dolby Digital and DTS content. That said, if you want an affordable, standalone bar, the SB2020n-J6 is a fair choice for dialogue-centric content.

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