Sonos Arc vs Vizio SB36512-F6 which is a better choice?

With the introduction of media platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Spotify, etc soundbars are becoming a necessity. They provide powerful sound quality. This means that new soundbars are being added to the market every few weeks. 

So today’s comparison is between two soundbars, which are Sonos Arc and the Vizio SB36512-F6. Let’s dive in and have a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly:

The Design:

Sonos Arc:

The Sonos Arc is available in two colors i.e. white and dark black. Choose the one that would complement the aesthetics of your room. The soundbar is certainly classy.  

The first thing that you’ll notice is the modern look. It comes in a solid box with heavy-duty locking tags. It has a 270 degrees elliptical shape and is about 240 cm (45 inches) wide. It is fit for TV sizes that are 49inches or more.  

The touch control panel sits on top like all other soundbars.  It has controls for a microphone privacy button for the voice control, volume, skip and play/pause. Ethernet and power port along with the joint button is at the back.  

This is a single-unit soundbar. The only inputs available in the box are a power cable and HDMI.  Ethernet socket and a Digital Optical to HDMI adapter are available separately.  

I’m the kind of person who is always on the lookout for a techy device that doesn’t need extras. And Sonos checks in that box. There is no remote and you can connect it to your TV via the ARC (Audio Return Channel). You can also control it via the new Sonos S2 smartphone app.  

The soundbar on its own produces a holistic audio experience cutting the need to pair up with extra speakers. For people like me, it’s decluttering on a whole new level! Fewer wires, less space, no searching for the extra remote. Phew!  

The Arc is metal-protected from the top, bottom, and sides. The sound bounces off smoothly from the hole punch speaker grille, which is also metal. Status LED light can self-adjust its brightness. You can also wall-mount the unit, although I would recommend otherwise. The reason is that bass response is more robust when the bar is on a tabletop.


Vizio SB36512-F6:

Vizio SB is for people who are looking for an inexpensive Dolby Atmos-integrated soundbar. This is a serious bang for your money.  

The soundbar provides a fantastic surround sound experience. With three drivers and two upward-firing speakers, the bar is 36 inches wide and 2.5 inches in height.  

Vizio soundbar system also has a 10.2 lbs subwoofer and two rear surround sound speakers. Do you see what I meant when I said it’s a real bang for your buck?  

I like the integration of Google Chromecast. I can enjoy music from platforms such as  Deezer, Spotify, and Tidal.  

You can control the soundbar from LED display remote control and Vizio’s SmarCast Mobile app. You can also use Google Assistant for voice control.  

Vizio has chosen to cover the soundbar with black fabric mesh and silver plastic endcaps. Power, Volume, Input selection, and Bluetooth pairing buttons nestle on top. White indicator lights gleam in different combinations to show the volume level and settings.  

We have two HDMI (input & output for ARC) ports, USB port, Optical, Ethernet, and Coaxial ports at the back. There is also a 3.5mm analog input jack. It have already been integrated into the device. Also included in the package are detachable IEC power cords, one for the soundbar and another for subwoofers.  

Speaker cable connects to the subwoofer via a single RCA jack. Subwoofers are pre-paired with the soundbar saving you the extra time of set up.


The Verdict:

After considering all the design aspects and packaged utilities, I think Sonos Arc wins this round.

About the Drivers:

Sonos Arc:

When it comes to the drivers and internal mechanism, the Arc is impressive. The inside houses 11 power-packed drivers, 8 potent elliptical woofers coupled with three silk dome tweeters. Four built-in far-field microphones provide fluid voice control.  

It projects the sound at various angles with sideways and upward-firing drivers. Sonos Arc supports multi-channel audio codecs including Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, and Dolby TrueHD. These channels provide better sound distribution, resulting in immersive surround sound effects.

Vizio SB36512-F6:

Vizio SB36512-F6 is a robust set of speakers, to say the least. It houses five 2.75-inch drivers. The rear speakers have 2.12-inch drivers to provide a harmonic sound experience.  

The subwoofer is equipped with a 6inch driver but still manages to be lightweight and easy to lift.

The Verdict:

Here again, the Sonos Arc takes the central stage with 11 powerful drivers for better sound quality.  

The Performance:

Sonos Arc:

The Arc’s acoustic performance is stupendous, to say the least. I switched between different movies, talk shows, news, and music but each time vocal clarity was flawless. Audio separation and higher frequencies were on point.  

With the 3d sound effect, my music experience was beyond impressive. Each beat rolled off exquisitely. My only issue was the bass. It’s a bit tighter and reigned in. I would have liked more boom. But for an average listener sound out is more than awe-inspiring.

Vizio SB36512-F6:

Set up of the device was a breeze (Thank God!). Pairing the device via Bluetooth is effortless but the resulting sound was rather thin and lifeless. I would advise listening to music on ‘music’ mode rather than ‘Movie’ mode. Although, this doesn’t help a lot but gets a tad bit better.  

IP-based streaming was much clearer. The midrange was still hollow but no longer foggy. Things kicked up a notch when I connected Vizio with my Blu-ray player. Here also I would suggest using ‘Music’ mode as ‘movie’ mode has muddy trebles and distended bass (even though Vizio claims otherwise!)  

After the rocky music experience, the movie experience exceeded my expectations. Please remember that for a true lossless Atmos signal, your TV set must have an HDMI-eARC port.   

Height speakers help in enhancing sound quality. This adds a realistic dimension to the movies that you play. Dialogue intelligibility is spot on.  

Watching ‘Blade Runner 2049’ was an ethereal experience. It felt like I felt engulfed in a sound bubble with the sound hitting me from the front, above, and sides.  

I don’t like the fact that subwoofers have an audio delay. You can not tune the speaker system and the bass many a time goes out of phase. This problem could have been avoided by integrating a cheap microphone into the calibration kit. It’s disheartening to see that Vizio completely overlooked this fact.  

The Verdict:

Considering the price point, Vizio SB36512-F6 has a lot to offer. People who watch TV primarily to enjoy Movies and shows can go for this one. However, for avid music lovers, Sonos Arc might be a better choice.

The Verdict:

Comparing both soundbars side by side was an enjoyable experience. It boils down to one fact, which is better? In my opinion, Sonos Arc is definitely better at providing a more integrated sound experience as compared to Vizio SB36512-F6. Nevertheless, if you’re short on budget and looking for a soundbar that would elevate your movie watching experience then opt for Vizio.

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