Vizio SB36514-G6 Home Theater Sound System review: Impressive sound, but we had Chromecast issues

With its wireless surround speakers and subwoofer, and four up-firing drivers for height effects, the $700 Vizio SB36514-G6 Home Theater Sound System delivers rich, detailed, and punchy audio, complete with 3D object-based Dolby Atmos support. The soundbar’s easy setup is a major plus, along with a generous collection of included cables and mounting accessories.

That said, I had trouble connecting the Vizio SB36514-G6 to Wi-Fi using my iPhone running iOS 13, and the Chromecast audio-enabled soundbar also had problems (in my Brooklyn apartment, at least) maintaining a solid Chromecast connection. Vizio says a firmware fix for the iOS 13 issues is incoming, and hopefully it’ll smooth out the Chromecast kinks, too.

Configuration

As you can discern from its name, the Vizio SB36514-G6 is a 5.1.4 system, which means it offers five standard surround channels (left, center, right, left surround, and right surround), low-frequency effects for deep bass, and four height channels (left, right, left surround, and right surround).

The left, center, right, and left and right height channels are powered by three front-firing and two up-firing drivers in the soundbar cabinet, while a six-inch driver in the wireless subwoofer handles the low-frequency effects. Last but not least, each of the two surround speakers has one front-firing driver and one up-firing driver.

Those four up-firing drivers are crucial if you want to hear the height effects of Dolby Atmos, a 3D object-based audio format that makes Atmos-encoded movie and TV soundtracks sound like they’re coming from all directions, including over your head. The up-firing drivers in Dolby Atmos-enabled soundbars, including the SB36514-G6, are designed to deliver audio height cues by bouncing sound off your ceiling. (If you have a Dolby Atmos A/V receiver and discrete loudspeakers, you might physically mount some of them in your ceiling). For the best results with this speaker, you’ll want a flat ceiling that’s between 7.5 and 12 feet high; vaulted ceilings won’t cut it, unfortunately. If you don’t have the perfect ceiling for Dolby Atmos, Vizio has another option for you, which we’ll cover in a moment.

Measuring 36 x 2.5 x 3.2 inches, the soundbar can sit directly in front of your TV, while the 11.5 x 11.5 x 7-inch subwoofer can go pretty much anywhere in the room. For my testing, I placed it next to the sofa that’s facing my 55-inch LG C9 OLED TV, which made it easier to connect the two flanking surround speakers.

Inputs and outputs

The Vizio SB36514-G6 comes with a typical array of ports for a soundbar: An HDMI input sits in a rear cavity on the left side, along with an HDMI-ARC (Audio Return Channel, for sending audio from your TV to the soundbar), ethernet, and a USB Type-A port that supports WAV and MP3 playback (no video formats, unfortunately).

vizio sb36514 g6 soundbar left ports Ben Patterson/IDG

The Vizio SB36514-G6 connectivity options include HDMI-ARC, an HDMI input, +ethernet, and a USB port that supports WAV and MP3 audio files.

The cavity on the right-hand side of the soundbar has a Toslink optical port for digital audio, a 3.5mm jack for analog audio, and the power port.