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CNET First Look
Vizio S5451w-C2 review: Real surround sound from giant sound barVizio's jumbo 54-inch 5.1 sound bar gets you closer to the cinema experience than any of its competitors, if you can live with the size.
[MUSIC] Sound bars are all about simplicity, but simplicity comes with a tradeoff. Even the best sound bars can't create true surround sound like a 5.1 speaker system. Unless of course your sound bar comes with rear speakers, which is the idea behind Vizio's latest sound bar. Hey, I'm Matthew Moskovciak from CNET. And the $500 Vizio S541w-C2 is the company's new 5.1 sound bar. Which comes with two rear speakers to create a real surround sound experience. It's a truly massive system, with the sound bar itself coming in at 54 inches long, designed to match TVs that are 55 inches and larger. It's also a little over 4 inches tall, which could be a problem if it blocks the remote sensor on your TV. That's not good to be a problem if you're wall mounting. But otherwise, you're gonna need to boost up your TV somehow so your remote signals can reach. The wireless subwoofer is designed to be placed in the back of the room. Where you can connect the two rear speakers using the included speaker cables. It's a smart design since it eliminates the need to run speakers from the front of the room to the back. Although you are still gonna have some wires that you need to hide. The included remote is also a cut above the competition. Mostly due to the built-in display. That means you get visual feedback right on the remote instead of needing to squint across the room at a display on the sound bar. And, the video does have a neat display on the sound bar as well. With a series of white LED lights that light up when you adjust the volume and make other tweaks. The videos features are pretty great too with plenty of inputs including two HDMI ports, optical, coaxial, analog and mini jack. Usually HDMI inputs aren't that big of a plus on the sound bar. Because you can always use your TV as a switcher. But here they actually matter. That's because most TVs dumb down incoming audio signals to stereo. So on this system, you wouldn't get the full surround sound effect. There's also a built in Bluetooth so you can wirelessly stream audio from smartphones and tablets. As for sound quality, the Visio's jumbo size really makes a difference. The ultra wide sound bar gives you more stereo separation and the bigger sub gives you more bass. And you don't have to be an audiophile to appreciate the surround sound of the rear speakers. Which make a huge difference on moves that are heavy with special effects. When we put it head to head with Sony's HTCT770 there was no contest in terms of surround sound ambiance on movies. And the Vizeo even held up well with music too. The big question with this system is really just its size. The sound bar itself is too big for most living rooms. And you do lose some of the simplicity of a sound bar once you start adding rear speakers and additional wire. And the $500 price is high too. Especially when Vizio makes a 42 inch 5.1 sound bar that's selling for about half the price. But if you have the space and you want the best performance. The Vizio get's you closer to the cinema experience than any other sound bar out there. Without the full clutter of a home theater in a box system. That's a truly impressive feat and that's worth the $500 price tag. I'm Matthew Moskovciak from CNET and this is the Vizio S5451w-C2.