It’s sleek, it’s boomy, it… fits under my 55″ VIZIO TV!
Today, I’m reviewing the VIZIO SS2521-C6 sound stand, as seen here under my TV:
If you own a VIZIO TV and let it sit on its own feet, you might have noticed there isn’t much space under the screen.
For my particular VIZIO TV (the VIZIO M55-C2) there’s 2.75″ between table and the TV’s bottom frame,and just a teeny bit over 3″ from table to screen.
Most sound bars are between 2.75″ and 3″ tall, so most of them would block some of the screen edge, if not the screen itself (especially to any viewers who might be laying down on the sofa).
Shopping for a sound bar that would fit under my TV
Unfortunately, nearly every sound bar with a decent rating and reasonable price seems to be at least 3″ tall.
And, because I’m picky and wanted to make this difficult, I also had the following criteria:
- no additional speakers (no room on either side of my TV)
- no separate subwoofer (nowhere to put it)
- narrow enough to fit between my TV’s feet or small enough to fit in one of the cubbies under my TV
That ruled out some obvious choices, including the Bose Solo 5 (my initial choice, but it’s too tall) and the best-selling VIZIO SB3821-C6 38-Inch 2.1 Channel Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer (also too tall, plus I’m not thrilled about wireless equipment in general even though wireless subwoofers are generally fine).
We also considered the Samsung HW-K450 2.1 but it seemed like it might also be too tall to fit under the TV and I wanted to see if we could get away with no subwoofer, since there’s no good place to put one in the apartment. Finally, there was also this AmazonBasics 2.0 Channel Bluetooth Sound Bar which was a close fit at 2.6″ tall, but I ultimately decided it was too cheap, and I’ve had enough “Amazon Basics” stuff die on me to be leery of the brand now. No wonder I used my Bose SoundLink Mini as a sound bar for my TV for so long!
I only discovered this sound bar in the first place because I needed something that would fit under or in front of my TV without blocking the screen, but I’m glad I did: there’s a lot to love here beyond its physical size and shape.
Note: If you have space for the skinny / wide “traditional” sound bar design with or without a separate subwoofer, there’s no real reason to limit your search to “sound stands”. This product is designed to solve a specific space constraint problem – there’s no inherent advantage to sound stands unless you benefit from its size/shape.
“Create a problem, sell the solution”
Fortunately, VIZIO is aware of the problem they’ve created. Behold, the VIZIO SS2521-C6.
It’s a reasonably priced “sound stand” that just so happens to be short enough to fit under their wide-footed flatscreen TVs. It’s more like a sound slab, really – 11 pounds of speaker that fits in the space under your low-clearance TV. You can also set a TV directly on it (hence the “stand”, I suppose), up to a whopping 60 lbs if your TV has a pedestal-style foot.
But how does it sound?
Sound quality is a subjective thing, but I like to think we (my partner and I) are pickier than average.
He’s a hobbyist musician and audiophile and I’m that person who gets into your car and starts fiddling with the treble and bass until it doesn’t sound like a tin can anymore. My concern with the VIZIO was that since VIZIO is selling to a captive audience, they wouldn’t have as much of an incentive to make it awesome.
Fortunately, my fears were unfounded: VIZIO made a fantastic sound bar and I’m super happy with it.
For those of you who speak speaker, it contains two 2.75″ full range drivers and 4.5″ subwoofer speaker response (tech specs here on Vizio’s site).
It’s just one slab of speaker, but it sounds like more
It actually tricked me into thinking something (or someone :o) was behind me in the apartment and made me turn around. It’s not a surround sound system with the little speakers on stands behind your sofa, but it does bounce the audio off stuff behind you to make it sound more dimensional.
The bass is rich and boomy
I hate weak bass, and if you hate it too, you won’t be sad with this speaker. It’s so good you might actually want to set it a little less than the default, and I can’t believe I’m saying that because I’m usually a 100%-isn’t-enough person when it comes to bass. We have ours set to 1 dot less than the default (middle dot) in the settings.
It can go LOUD
We use this sound bar in my city apartment, though, so we could only responsibly test it up to a certain volume (near-deafening), but I believe the volume should be sufficient for the vast majority of TV watching setups. Our 1 bedroom apartment is a living room/computer room/kitchen open concept room, and it can out-loud all of those things at once.
VIZIO states that the stand “…packs a powerful punch combining a room-shaking volume of up to 101 dB at less than 1% harmonic distortion*”. 101 dB puts it right between a lawn mower and a rock concert, and 85 dB is generally considered the volume at which sounds become harmful to your hearing. Suffice to say, it’s plenty loud.
Virtual surround sound that can be toggled on / off
Depending on the size/layout of your room, you might like the virtual surround sound setting on or off. Basically, the speaker will try to bounce sounds off the walls of your room to fake surround sound. This effect is particularly noticeable you have a wall right behind your sofa. We don’t have a wall right behind our sofa, but we keep this on as we think it sounds “fuller” with it on.
For relatively basic TV setups, the VIZIO SS2521-C6 should have everything you need. It’s basically your TV’s missing sound system. (When TVs got thin, there wasn’t any room for decent speakers inside them anymore, hence the rise of sound bars and separate speaker systems, even for people who aren’t home audio enthusiasts).
This diagram of the remote (from the sound stand’s manual) is a good summary of the features:
What’s great about the VIZIO SS2521-C6
- Fits under my TV
- Can sit a TV on it
- Remote included
- Cables included
- Great audio quality
- TVOL (TruVolume) for volume leveling
- Pleasing LEDs
- Easy setup
Fits under your TV!
You can either set a TV directly on the stand, provided its base is sufficiently small, or over it, provided the feet are sufficiently far apart.
If your TV has a pedestal foot and weighs less than 60 lbs, it can sit on top of this VIZIO sound stand.
My VIZIO TV has two feet that are about 38″ apart at their narrowest point, so mine straddles the sound stand. This works out well for me – that space was just going to waste anyway, and I didn’t have to find room on a shelf under the TV (which I don’t have, anyway – the table my TV sits on is made up of square cubbies).
Cables are included
I hate it when I buy something, get it home, set it up, and realize the manufacturer assumed I already had the cables I would need.
In our case, we set up using optical, but there are a variety of connection types available:
- Analog Audio – Stereo RCA
- Analog Audio – 3.5mm stereo mini jack
- Digital Audio – RCA (Coaxial)
- Digital Audio – Optical (Toslink)
- USB Input – USB
Setup is butt simple: connect the cable of your choice to the sound stand and the TV, plug in the power, and turn it on – done.
Notably, there are no HDMI ports on this sound stand. It cannot take in HDMI and send it on to the TV. In other words, it doesn’t act like a receiver or “hub” for your media devices. Depending on the complexity of your setup, you might not even miss it. We just have a TV and a PlayStation 4 in this setup. (If you also have, say, a BluRay player, Roku, multiple gaming systems, set top box, DVR, etc – or are simply accustomed to having a receiver – this won’t add more ports for all your devices or handle audio separately the way a receiver will.)
TruVolume (TVOL on the remote) makes volume level consistent
This is a setting you toggle on/off. It makes quiet things louder and louder things quieter.
In practice, enabling this feature lets you hear whispers without sudden loud stuff blowing you off the sofa.
LED lights are pleasing
When it’s on, there’s just one white LED on in the lower left corner. A row of LEDs indicates volume or settings, but only when you’re actively adjusting those settings.
Best of all: when the sound bar is off, there are no bright LEDs shining in the darkness. (If you ever sleep in the same room as your TV, you’ll appreciate this.) I find crawling text and glowing settings bars distracting, so I’m glad to not see those things on this sound bar.
The whole thing is just ‘plug and play’
There’s not a lot to set up. Just put it in place, hook it up to your TV, and start watching. Adjust the bass and treble to your liking and you’re golden.
For this TV in our downtown apartment, we didn’t need an expensive surround sound speaker setup or a receiver. Our budget would’ve gone up to around $400 for the right sound bar, but we were plenty pleased with this one (which can be found for $200 or less, depending where you shop and if you can find it on sale).
VIZIO SS2521-C6 drawbacks
- Doesn’t support streaming audio over WiFi
- You cannot add a separate subwoofer or more speakers later
- Some people say it vibrates
- Doesn’t wake up with the TV
Alas, no WiFi streaming to this speaker
I’m getting greedy with this one, but I like my speakers to do multiple jobs, and I love streaming from Spotify over WiFi. It’s Bluetooth enabled, so you can play music to it from your phone/computer over Bluetooth, but playing music over Bluetooth is so inconvenient and inferior now that WiFi streaming is a thing.
(I’ll keep using my Bose Mini SoundLink + Echo Dot for streaming over WiFi.)
You can’t add more speakers later
I don’t feel like I want to add more speakers, but definitely don’t think of this as something you can “build on” over time. It’s not expandable. You can’t add a subwoofer or satellite speakers to this sound bar.
Some people say it vibrates
I haven’t personally noticed any vibration, but that could be because we don’t listen to it on max volume or because it’s sitting on a solid wood surface. People who say it vibrates also say you can fix the vibration with little rubbery foot pads.
Doesn’t wake up with the TV
Remember the good old days, when you could turn on your TV and the sound was on, too? I’m probably just lazy, but I wish this thing would somehow just turn on when the TV is turned on. (This problem probably exists with all sound bars, and you can solve it with a universal remote.)
What’s in the box?
You get the sound stand, a remote, setup guide, and cables for RCA to 3.5mm, digital optical, coax, and a power cable. In our case, we didn’t need to buy anything else to complete the setup.
The bottom line
We love it. It solved our problem of needing sound bar that fit under our TV, and it sounds great. We love the built-in subwoofer (we don’t have anywhere to put a standalone one) and even though we’re both pretty picky about bass, we think the bass is great.
Keep your expectations reasonable: without a separate subwoofer, there’s a limit to what this sound stand can accomplish bass-wise. It’s not a receiver, and you can’t expand it with more speakers later.
If you read this far and realized you don’t actually need the sound stand form factor (or you think you’ll miss a separate woofer), check out the Vizio SB3821-C6 38-Inch 2.1 Channel Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer. It’s cheaper and the reviews are stellar.
However, if you’re like us and need to stuff a sound bar under your TV, the VIZIO SS2521-C6 is absolutely the way to go!