Skip to main content

Vizio SB3621n-G8 2.1 review

Vizio’s latest 2.1-channel soundbar boasts sweet cinema sound on the cheap

Vizio SB3621n-GB review
Vizio SB3621n-G8 2.1
MSRP $179.99
“Vizio’s SB3621n-G8 2.1 soundbar brings bold cinema sound at a great price.”
  • Crisp, dynamic sound
  • Easy set-up
  • Sound signature can be easily tailored to your room
  • Subwoofer fits under furniture
  • Clunky visual interface

If you just spent a big chunk of change on a brand new TV, it can be tough to pony up even more cash to upgrade the audio performance for your favorite shows and movies. But given that even the highest-end TV models often come with woefully inept sound, you’ll most likely want to grab at the very least a modestly priced soundbar to pair with that new screen.

That’s where Vizio’s latest 2.1 soundbar system, the SB3621n-G8, comes in handy. With great stereo sound, an affordable $150 price tag, and a discreet subwoofer that is slim enough to sit under most furniture, there are few entry-level bars that offer you this soundbar’s mix of convenience and quality.

Out of the box

The SB3621n-G8 is an update of Vizio’s previous 36-inch 2.1 bar, which featured a subwoofer with a bigger footprint. Inside a bright orange box, you’ll find the bar, a sleek new sub (more on this later), a remote, instruction manual, and 3.5 mm and optical cables to link your TV and other devices.

Aesthetically, as with a lot of bars, there’s not much to write home about. We do like the rectangular bar’s sleek silver endcaps on each side, a Vizio design signature which matches nicely with the compact sub.

Speaking of the sub, Vizio has re-engineered its ported sub to be extremely thin, making it possible to place it under couches and chairs for optimum rumble, while also keeping it out of the way.

Features and setup

One of the biggest drawbacks of the SB3621n-G8 is its lack of HDMI ARC port. We don’t typically expect one on a soundbar in this price class, but we’re starting to see it more often. HDMI ARC allows for higher-quality playback from your TV (though it’s essentially a moot point for lower-priced soundbars like this one), as well as CEC control to use your TV remote for volume and power. You can program the Vizio so it works with most TV remotes, though, so with a little work, connecting with the included optical cable should tick the same boxes as ARC.

You may need to adjust the audio output settings on your TV to make sure it’s using the optical port, but that will depend on your make and model. Should you so desire — and your TV has one — you could also use the 3.5 mm jack to get sound to the bar, but Optical connection is by far the preferred method. The bar also includes Bluetooth for streaming music, as well as USB and digital coaxial inputs.

We were impressed by the plucky SB3621n-G8’s ability to draw us into the action.

The SB3621n-G8 doesn’t come with a fancy LED screen that can display the name of each input you choose, nor does it offer a digital screen on the remote like many other Vizio bars. Instead, the bar employs a somewhat confusing series of LEDs to let you know which input you’re selecting. Consulting the manual is your best bet here to translate the arrangement of white dots that denote the source.

We’re not huge fans of this system, but it isn’t a major issue. Frankly, you can easily bumble your way through the input selection on the remote until you find the correct input.

Speaking of the remote, it easily allows you to adjust the bass and treble response of the unit based on the acoustics in your space (more on this below), as well as adjust the volume of the subwoofer to suit your needs. You can also choose between “Movie” and “Music” sound modes. We like how many quick adjustments you can make on the fly — something other affordable soundbars often lack — but we do wish the remote had a backlight for changing settings in dark rooms. Still, for most people, it will be a set-it-and-forget-it device, and the volume buttons — likely what you’ll use most — are nearly impossible to miss.

Sound Quality

We were immediately impressed by the plucky SB3621n-G8’s ability to draw us into the action on screen. With support for DTS and Dolby Digital audio, you’ll get solid digital sound right out of the box.

Despite its middle-of-the-road 36-inch width, the stereo image offered by this affordable bar is excellent, supplemented by the included subwoofer to create a vibrant and full-spectrum sound signature typically associated with much larger bars.

The included woofer won’t offer the kind of potent, cinematic rumble you’ll get from pricier options like Vizio’s 46-inch 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos system, but you won’t be disappointed with the SB3621n-G8’s ability to shake your seats during the scariest scenes in Stranger Things season 3. It also does extremely well with dialogue, accenting the voices on screen without ever becoming harsh or sibilant, even at high volumes.

Vizio SB3621n-GB review
Riley Young/Digital Trends

The ability to adjust bass, treble, and subwoofer volume independently makes a world of difference when correctly placing the sub in many different kinds of rooms. In a smaller space that doesn’t need tons of rumble, you can simply turn the subwoofer down. Want to feel every footstep of that monster on screen? Pump it up.

One thing we rarely enjoy on affordable soundbars — and this one is no exception — is music. Even in music mode, there’s a boxy quality to our favorite tunes that makes the soundbar feel like an over-sized Bluetooth speaker, rather than a capable 2.1 system.

You can easily use the SB3621n-G8 to fuel a living room dance party or to provide some musical ambiance, just don’t expect to be floored with the detail — especially in the midrange, where it appears to be tuned to accent the human voice more than all instruments that surround it.

That said, that’s not really what this bar is designed for: If you want to listen to your favorite tunes in high fidelity, we still recommend you invest in a dedicated audio setup, rather than looking to a soundbar to solve your needs.

Warranty information

Vizio covers the product against defects in materials and workmanship for up to one year when the product is used normally.

Our Take

Vizio’s SB3621n-G8 2.1 Soundbar System is a great way to get quality home theater sound at a very palatable price. It’s a great, value-packed addition to any TV that doesn’t yet have an outboard sound solution.

Is there a better alternative?

There are a few other affordable soundbars that we like, but none that offer this level of sound for the money. The TCL Alto 7 is of similar size — and comes with HDMI ARC — but for $30 more, it still lacks the ability to adjust the subwoofer level, which may make it too boomy for some spaces. For those who can scratch together a bit more dough, we’d recommend the Yamaha YAS-207, which costs $150 more, but offers much better sound and more advanced features.

How long will it last?

Vizio has a long history of making very robust products, and we don’t expect this soundbar system to be any different. It should last for many years, provided you take good care of it.

Should you buy it?

Yes. If you are looking for a good soundbar at a killer price, this is among the best you’ll find. Even if it lacks the same advanced features as more expensive bars, Vizio clearly put its money where it counts — bringing you the best possible sound for the money.

Editors' Recommendations

Parker Hall
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Parker Hall is a writer and musician from Portland, OR. He is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Oberlin…
Tubi supercharges its search with ChatGPT-4 and Rabbit AI
Press images and screenshots of the ChatGPT-powered Rabbit AI search features on Tubi on an iPhone.

Tubi — the ad-supported on-demand streaming service owned by Fox that's part of the FAST explosion — has more than 200,000 movies and TV shows at the ready for its 74 million monthly active users. The trick is figuring out what to watch. Or, rather, Tubi wants to figure out what you want to watch. And to that end, today it announced that it’s using a new search scheme to help you make your way through the platform.

Rabbit AI, as it’s being called, uses ChatGPT-4 (that’s a step above the free one you’ve probably been using) to go beyond what Tubi says its previous keyword searches could suss out. First is that the whole thing is much more conversational, like if you were talking to a buddy.

Read more
This LG OLED TV deal brings the 65-inch B2 down by $800
The LG B2 OLED 4K TV in a living room.

We recommend going straight to the source for excellent TV deals today with LG offering an LG 65-inch B2 OLED TV at a fantastic price. Usually priced at $2,300, the TV is $800 off for a limited time only so it's down to $1,500. That's a huge saving on a TV that continues to be a great bet for anyone considering OLED technology. You can either click through on the button below to get straight to buying or read on while we take you through what you need to know about it.

Why you should buy the LG 65-inch B2 OLED TV
LG is one of the best TV brands thanks to its expertise with OLED screens. OLED means that every pixel you see on screen is self-lit so they light up independently of each other, giving you exceptional picture quality. With each of them working separately, it means you can have incredibly deep blacks at the same time as somewhere else on the screen displays vibrant colors.

Read more
Is Dolby Atmos FlexConnect a potential soundbar killer?
A diagram showing how Dolby Atmos FlexConnect combines wireless speakers with a TV's sound system.

In this day and age of tech, you can’t blink without missing something. So I wouldn’t at all be surprised if you missed a cameo that Dolby Atmos FlexConnect made during a recent TCL announcement. I mean, I almost missed it. Perhaps that’s why nobody is talking about it. Or … is there another reason?

I’m going to take a closer look at this new Dolby Atmos FlexConnect technology. Given the kind of power Dolby has in the industry and the fact that at least TCL seems pretty on board, I figured it's worth a quick conversation.

Read more