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Vizio reinvents its soundbar line, including an Atmos bar with rotating speakers

Vizio has always enjoyed a reputation for producing soundbars that are fantastic values, delivering far better sound than their affordable prices would suggest. And while that’s still true, at CES 2020, Vizio is upping its soundbar game considerably.

The Vizio Elevate soundbar was selected by our editors as the best product in the Audio category at CES 2020. Check out more of our Top Tech of CES Award winners.
Best of CES 2020 Audio
CES 2020

Elevate soundbar

Vizio’s new Elevate soundbar (which is technically part of its P-Series lineup to coordinate with Vizio’s TVs) will turn heads thanks to its turning speakers. Located at the ends of the 48-inch anodized aluminum soundbar are two speaker pods that automatically rotate upward when the bar detects Dolby Atmos or DTS:X signals to bounce sound off the ceiling for immersive sound.

When the 3D-audio content is over, the pods are designed to resume their forward-firing position for better stereo sound.

Vizio Elevate
Vizio Elevate

The Elevate’s other specs are almost as impressive:

  • A 10-channel, 5.1.4 immersive surround sound-capable system
  • 18 discrete drivers
  • Dual woofers
  • Two satellite speakers with upward-firing drivers
  • Wireless 8-inch subwoofer
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Voice-assistant compatibility with Google Assistant and Alexa
  • Chromecast built-in

The soundbar also features HDMI 2.1 connection with eARC support, which will be a hot feature for both TVs and soundbars at CES 2020. The eARC connection allows for fully uncompressed Dolby Atmos from supported TVs through select apps, meaning you’ll get high-resolution, immersive sound, along with built-in sync correction, so you’ll never have to worry about lag. Again, the eARC connection only works with TVs that also offer eARC, but it’s a nice bit of future-proofing for this high-end system.

Vizio hasn’t tipped its hand about pricing for any of its new bars just yet, but based on its specs and past pricing, expect this unit to come close to the $1,000 line (if not rise above it).

First impressions of the Elevate from our private demo at the Vdara Hotel & Spa are promising. The bass, in particular, seems to be cleaner and more punchy than the company’s previous 46-inch 5.1.4 system. And while it’s difficult to assess in only a short demo, the system offers powerful, engulfing sound with Dolby Atmos content, and clear, musical reproduction of the single song we heard in Vizio’s CES 2020 demo room.

Vizio kicked off CES 2020 with a bang, announcing refreshed models of the P-Series Quantum and Quantum X, M-Series Quantum, and V-Series 4K TVs. As if that wasn't enough, it also showed off its first OLED TV, SmartCast 4.0, and new audio hardware.
January 5, 2020

While the Elevate is obviously Vizio’s flagship soundbar, the company also has two more series for those with an appetite for great sound, but perhaps slightly smaller budgets. While similar to last year’s models, Vizio claims sound quality has been improved across the board, raising velocity by 30% and improving clarity and bass response in some cases.

And, like the Elevate, the design of these bars offers a whole new look from the company’s previous rectangular systems with their signature aluminum plating. It was time for a change, but we’re hoping these new bars still bring the value we expect from Vizio as well.

Vizio M-Series

  • Up to 8 total channels
  • Up to 11 discrete drivers
  • Passive radiators for deeper, fuller sound
  • Available Dolby Atmos- and DTS:X-capable models
  • Wireless subwoofer
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Voice-assistant compatibility
  • Multiple HDMI inputs
  • 2.1, 5.1, and 5.1.2 configurations

As detailed in the last bullet point, the M-Series comes in multiple iterations when it comes to add-on speakers, going up to a 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos system with included surrounds. Vizio showed off its pyramid-shaped, all-in-one 2.1-channel version of the M-Series bar, which is designed for those who want cinematic sound in tight spaces, but we didn’t get to hear that one in practice.

Above that are the more rectangular 5.1 and 5.1.2 versions, which sport the company’s new flattened satellite speakers (pictured below with the V-Series) and, of course, a wireless subwoofer. We got minimal time with the M-Series, so we’ll have to reserve judgment on sound for now.

We also asked Vizio’s reps if the popular 36-inch 5.1.4 channel system — which currently stands as our favorite Dolby Atmos bar thanks to its incredible value quotient — will remain in the lineup, given that the M-Series only offers two upfiring drivers at most, but the company was mum on specifics there. If they do drop the 36-inch bar, it will be a real loss.

Vizio V-Series

  • Up to 6 total channels
  • Full-range drivers
  • DTS Virtual:X-capable
  • Wireless subwoofer
  • Bluetooth
  • Voice-assistant compatibility
  • HDMI inputs
  • 2.1, and 5.1 configurations

As the “virtual” implies, the V-series does not offer upfiring drivers for true 3D sound immersion, but you can still get 5.1-surround, hopefully at a very enticing price point.

Alongside its new V-Series bars, Vizio will be keeping some of its more affordable 5.1-channel systems, but with a new look that strikes the aluminum-plated, silver-and-black design in favor of the new stealth color pattern.

Vizio says pricing and availability for all its new soundbars will be available “closer to launch.” We hope these new bars will be every bit as satisfying to the ear and to the wallet as the company’s prior models, but we’ll be sure to find out soon once they’re available for review.

Follow our live blog for more CES news and announcements.

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Simon Cohen
Contributing Editor, A/V
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like…
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