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CNET First Look
Vizio VHT510The Vizio VHT510 adds rear speakers to the traditional sound bar design, resulting in outstanding sound quality at an affordable price, although we would have liked more inputs.
Hey, I'm Matthew Moskovciak at CNET.com and this is the Vizio VHT510. This is a sound bar home theater system and it's currently selling for about $320. The main system is pretty standard looking. You've got a long sound bar and a wireless subwoofer, but what makes the VHT510 unique is it includes two rear speakers so you can get a real surround sound effect instead of the simulated surround sound effect that many other sound bars do. Even smarter, Vizio designed it so you connect the speakers directly to the wireless subwoofer, instead of the main sound bar. That means you can place the sub and the speakers in the back of the room without needing to run wires from the front of your home theater all the way to the back. Now, we generally prefer the subwoofer to be placed within a few feet of the sound bar so that you get the best blend between the two units, but if you're willing to live with some sonic compromises, it's a pretty nice setup. The included remote is also excellent. It has a dead simple design with just the power button, volume controls, and a mute button, so anyone can pick it up and use it. And if you slide out the bottom, you get a bunch of additional controls, and it's great that you can easily adjust the volume of the sub right on the remote. Connectivity is around the back and it's one of the Vizio's weaknesses. There's just a single optical audio input and an analog audio input. If you have more than two devices, you can connect everything to your TV and then use your TV's audio output to the Vizio, but many TVs downmix audio to stereo in this configuration, so you're gonna lose out on some of the full benefits of a true 5.1 signal. In terms of audio performance, we were really impressed by the VHT510. Those rear channels really make a difference and you're gonna get a much more immersive sound compared to other sound bars with just virtual sound processing. It did a great job with movies, dialog was easy to hear, and it even handled music well which is pretty rare for a sound bar system. For this price, it's a real standout performer. All together, the Vizio VHT510 is an excellent home theater solution for buyers that want some of the simplicity of a sound bar system with true surround sound performance. We just would have liked a few more inputs on the back. I'm Matthew Moskovciak and this is the Vizio VHT510.