Vizio V Series V21x-J8 Soundbar Review

Tested using Methodology v1.0
Reviewed Jul 21, 2021 at 09:30 am
Vizio V Series V21x-J8 Picture
6.8
Mixed Usage
7.4
Dialogue/TV Shows
7.1
Music
6.2
Movies
Channels
2.1

The Vizio V Series V21x-J8 is a budget-friendly 2.1 setup released in 2021. This soundbar has a bass-heavy sound profile that adds extra punch and boom to your audio, though vocals and lead instruments are still mostly reproduced clearly and with detail. It comes with a few EQ presets so you can customize its sound, but it lacks more premium sound enhancement features. It also doesn't support Dolby Atmos or DTS:X content.

Our Verdict

6.8 Mixed Usage

The Vizio V Series 2.1 Sound Bar is fair for mixed usage. This 2.1 soundbar has a bass-heavy sound profile that adds extra punch to your audio, but you can use its bass and treble adjustments to get a more neutral sound if you prefer. Its mostly balanced mid-range can still reproduce dialogue clearly, which is handy for TV fans. However, it has a poor surround performance, and it doesn't support Dolby Atmos content.

Pros
  • Bass and treble adjustments.
  • Dialogue enhancement feature.
Cons
  • Poor surround performance.
  • No height channels.
7.4 Dialogue/TV Shows

The Vizio V Series 2.1 Sound Bar is satisfactory for dialogue-centric content like TV shows. Its mostly balanced mid-range reproduces voices clearly and with detail. There's also a dialogue enhancement feature that can make voices more crisp and clear. However, it lacks a discrete center channel, so voices seem to come from a more general area rather than a pinpoint location.

Pros
  • Dialogue enhancement feature.
  • Bluetooth-compatible.
Cons
  • Disappointing center channel performance.
  • No support for Wi-Fi, Chromecast built-in, Apple AirPlay.
7.1 Music

The Vizio V Series 2.1 Sound Bar is decent for music. On its 'Music' preset, it has a bass-heavy sound profile that adds extra emphasis in the bass range. However, voices and lead instruments are still mostly reproduced clearly. You can also use its EQ presets and its bass and treble adjustments to get a more neutral sound, if you prefer. While the bar gets pretty loud, unfortunately, there's some compression present at max volume.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
  • Bass and treble adjustments.
Cons
  • Compression at max volume.
  • No graphic EQ.
6.2 Movies

The Vizio V Series 2.1 Sound Bar is acceptable for movies. Its bass-heavy sound profile helps you feel the deep rumble and punch in action-packed movie scenes, and dialogue mostly reproduces clearly. It supports surround content, but unfortunately, it has to downmix it to stereo to play it. Also, it doesn't support object-based audio formats like Dolby Atmos or DTS:X.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
  • Bass and treble adjustments.
Cons
  • Poor surround performance.
  • No height channels.
  • 6.8 Mixed Usage
  • 7.4 Dialogue/TV Shows
  • 7.1 Music
  • 6.2 Movies
  1. Updated Jul 21, 2021: Review published.
  2. Updated Jul 16, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The Vizio V Series 2.1 is a budget-friendly soundbar from the manufacturer's 2021 lineup. It replaces the Vizio V Series V21-H8, and it comes with an AUX In port so you can plug in third-party voice assistant devices. Its competitors include the Vizio V Series V51x-J6, the Samsung HW-A550, and the Vizio M-Series M21d-H8R.

Design
Design
Style - Bar

This soundbar has a simple, sleek design. It's mostly made of plastic, and there's fabric covering the front and the sides. It sits on four rubber feet. Overall, it looks very similar to the Vizio V Series V21-H8.

Design
Style - Subwoofer

The sub is mostly made of melamine and sits on four plastic pegs with rubber grips. The port is located in the rear, and the speaker is underneath.

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

The Vizio V Series 2.1 Sound Bar is wide, but it should still fit between the legs of most 55 inch TV stands. It also isn't very tall, so it shouldn't obscure your TV screen unless your TV sits flush on your table.

Design
Dimensions - Subwoofer
Width 7.7" (19.5 cm)
Height 8.4" (21.4 cm)
Depth 7.7" (19.5 cm)

The subwoofer is about the same width as an average desktop PC, but it isn't very tall. It connects to the bar wirelessly, so you just need to plug it into an outlet to get it to work.

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 inputs. There are also universal holes on the underside, so you can mount the bar to the wall using the included wall-mounting kit.

Design
Back - Subwoofer
Enclosure
Ported

The port is located on the back of the sub. There's also an input for the power cable as well as a pairing button.

Design
Back - Satellites
Mounting
No
7.0
Design
Build Quality

The Vizio V Series 2.1 Sound Bar has a decent build quality. The bar is mostly plastic, which feels solid and durable. However, the fabric covering the front and the sides of the bar seems like it could rip or collect dust easily, which is disappointing. That said, the subwoofer's melamine build also seems sturdy. For a better built soundbar, check out the Hisense HS218.

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

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

Sound
7.4
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response
Tested Preset
Music
Slope
-1.11
Std. Err.
5.26 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
33.2 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
17.0 kHz

The Vizio V Series 2.1 has a satisfactory stereo frequency response. On its 'Music' preset, it has a bass-heavy sound profile that adds extra punch and boom to your audio. That said, its mid-range is mostly balanced, so voices and lead instruments are mostly clear and detailed. There are also bass and treble adjustments and EQ presets to help you customize its sound.

7.9
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response With Preliminary Calibration
Suggested Preset
Music
Suggested Bass Setting
-5
Suggested Treble Setting
1
Slope
-0.04
Std. Err.
3.40 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
34.1 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
17.2 kHz

The Vizio V Series 2.1 Sound Bar has a very good stereo frequency response with calibration. With its bass set to '-5' and its treble set to '1' and on its 'Music' preset, it offers a very neutral, balanced sound profile that's suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content.

7.0
Sound
Stereo Soundstage
Crosstalk Error
2.74 dB

The Vizio V Series 2.1 Sound Bar has a decent stereo soundstage performance. Its soundstage is perceived to be a bit wider than the bar itself. Its focus is good, too, so sound objects like voices can be pinpointed to an accurate location, though it can also sound like a more general area is moving at times.

6.8
Sound
Stereo Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
94.5 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
3.81 dB

The Vizio V Series 2.1 Sound Bar has a fair stereo dynamics performance. It can get loud, which is handy for listeners who like to crank up the volume to fill up large spaces and crowded parties. However, there's compression at max volume, especially in the bass range.

7.3
Sound
Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.53
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
2.76

The Vizio V Series 2.1 has a decent stereo THD performance. At normal listening volumes, it falls within good limits, resulting in clean and pure audio reproduction. There's a jump in THD when the bar is pushed to max volume. That said, THD can be hard to hear with real-life content, so you may not notice it.

5.6
Sound
Center
Localization
Phantom
Slope
-1.50
Std. Err.
6.20 dB
SPL @ Max Volume
94.4 dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.52
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
2.83

The Vizio V Series 2.1 Sound Bar has a middling center channel performance. Due to its 2.1 configuration, it lacks a discrete center channel. Instead, it uses its left and right speakers to simulate a sound in the center. As a result, voices seem to come from a more general area rather than a pinpoint location.

4.0
Sound
Surround 5.1
Localization
Stereo (Downmix)
Slope
0.62
Std. Err.
3.39 dB
SPL @ Max Volume
88.3 dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.72
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
3.62
7.1 Rears
No

The Vizio V Series 2.1 Sound Bar has a poor surrounds performance. It has to downmix surround content into stereo in order to play it. Unfortunately, this doesn't sound as clear or real as a setup with discrete surround speakers, like the Vizio V Series V51x-J6. Surround objects like voices and footsteps seem like they're coming from speakers placed in front of you rather than from 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 V Series 2.1 Sound Bar has an okay selection of sound enhancement features. You can customize its sound using its bass and treble adjustments as well as its EQ presets: 'Movie', 'Music', 'Dialogue', and 'Game'. You can also use the TVOL button on the remote to activate the auto-volume mode, which balances the volume level across different programs. That said, it lacks more premium sound enhancement features like a graphic EQ or a room correction feature, so it may sound a bit different depending on the room you're listening in.

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 V Series 2.1 comes with several physical inputs. There's an AUX port, so you can plug in older devices to the bar for audio playback. There's also a USB port so you can listen to music from a thumb drive.

Note: According to our testing methodology, we don't consider this soundbar to have an HDMI Out port. It doesn't have a Full HDMI In port, so users aren't able to plug in two HDMI devices at the same time.

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 V Series 2.1 Sound Bar has good audio format support via ARC. It supports Dolby Digital, which is the most common surround sound format found on Blu-ray discs and streaming platforms. That said, it doesn't support eARC, so it doesn't support lossless or object-based formats like Dolby Atmos or DTS:X.

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 V Series 2.1 Sound Bar supports both Dolby Digital and DTS content via Optical. You can commonly find these formats on Blu-ray discs and streaming platforms.

8.1
Connectivity
Latency
ARC
45 ms
Optical
69 ms
Full HDMI In
N/A

The Vizio V Series 2.1 Sound Bar has an impressive latency performance. It has fairly low latency via both ARC and Optical, so the audio you hear is mostly in sync with the video you see. As a result, it's suitable for watching videos over these connections. However, some apps and TVs can compensate for latency differently, so your experience may vary.

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

The Vizio V Series 2.1 only supports Bluetooth connectivity. You can wirelessly stream audio from your mobile devices to the bar over this connection, but you can't connect devices using Wi-Fi, Chromecast built-in, or Apple AirPlay.

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

The Vizio V Series 2.1 Sound Bar doesn't have a Full HDMI In port, so it doesn't support high-quality passthrough.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
Yes

The sub connects to the bar wirelessly. You just need to plug it into a power outlet to get it to work.

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

The Vizio V Series 2.1 has a series of indicator lights on the left side of the bar. They flash different colors and patterns depending on the input you select. There's also audio feedback when you change between the four EQ preset modes.

Additional Features
Bar Controls

On top of the bar, there are some physical buttons that let you power the bar on/off, change the input, activate Bluetooth pairing, and adjust the volume.

Additional Features
Remote
Universal Remote
No

The Vizio V Series 2.1 Sound Bar's remote is simple and lets you control the bar's functions. You can adjust the volume, the bass, and the treble, and activate the auto-volume mode.

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

The Vizio V Series 2.1 has an AUX In port that lets you plug in voice assistant-enabled devices so you can control the bar with your voice. However, we don't consider this as built-in voice assistant support since it requires purchasing a third-party device.

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 V Series 2.1 Sound Bar has an eco-power mode that automatically turns the bar off after a period of inactivity. However, this feature is turned off by default, according to the manual. It also has HDMI CEC support, so you can use your TV remote to control the bar's basic functions.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Vizio V Series 2.1 Sound Bar comes in Black, and you can see the label for the model we tested here.

If you come across another version of this soundbar, let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Soundbars

The Vizio V Series 2.1 Sound Bar is a budget-friendly setup, and is the next generation of the Vizio V Series V21-H8. Unlike its predecessor, it has an AUX In port that lets you plug in third-party voice assistant devices to control the bar. Its bass-heavy sound profile adds extra boom and punch to your audio, and it also comes with some sound customization features.

See our recommendations for the best budget soundbars, the best soundbars under $300, and the best Vizio soundbars

Vizio V Series V21-H8

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.

Sonos Arc

The standalone Sonos Arc is a better soundbar than the Vizio V Series V21x-J8. The Sonos is a 5.0.2 setup that's better-built and supports Dolby Atmos content, unlike the Vizio. It also has better soundstage, center, and surrounds performances, and it comes with a room correction feature. Some listeners may prefer its more neutral default sound profile compared to the Vizio's bass-heavy sound. That said, the 2.1 Vizio comes with EQ presets, unlike the Sonos.

Vizio V Series V51-H6

The 5.1 Vizio V Series V51-H6 is a better soundbar than the 2.1 Vizio V Series V21x-J8. The V51-H6 gets louder, and it has better center and surrounds performances. Also, some listeners may prefer its more neutral out-of-the-box sound compared to the V21x-J8's more bass-heavy sound profile.

Hisense HS218

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Vizio V Series V21x-J8 or the Hisense HS218. The Vizio has a better stereo soundstage, and it reproduces a more extended low-bass. That said, the Hisense is better built, with a better center channel performance. Some listeners may prefer its more neutral default sound profile over the Vizio's more bass-heavy sound profile.

Samsung HW-A550

The Samsung HW-A550 is a better soundbar than the Vizio V Series V21x-J8. The Samsung is better-built and has a more neutral default sound profile, which some listeners may prefer. Unlike the Vizio, it also comes with a graphic EQ for sound customization and a Full HDMI In port. That said, the Vizio offers a better surround performance.

Yamaha YAS-209

The Yamaha YAS-209 is a slightly better soundbar for mixed usage than the Vizio V Series V21x-J8. The Yamaha offers a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box, which some listeners may prefer. It also has a better center channel performance and more wireless playback options. Unlike the Vizio, it comes with built-in voice assistant support and a Full HDMI In port. However, the Vizio has some more sound enhancement features, including bass and treble adjustments and an auto-volume mode.

Vizio V Series V51x-J6

The Vizio V Series V51x-J6 is a better soundbar than the Vizio V Series V21x-J8. The V51x-J6 comes with discrete satellite speakers, so it offers a better surround performance. It also has a more neutral sound profile, and it has less compression at max volume. Thanks to its 5.1 setup, it has a better center channel performance, too.

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