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There’s probably little doubt that the typical Home Theater Shack member desires nothing less than a 5.1 system to feed their yearning for a high quality home theater experience. That’s not to say that we all have the space or the budget for a multichannel system tethered to every display in our homes...or that we don’t have other locations, such as a vacation home, where investing in a larger system just doesn’t make sense. And, of course, we all have friends or family that couldn't care less about multichannel set-ups, crossovers, THX standards, and the size of a subwoofer’s driver; they simply have an interest in easy to install products that will improve upon the sound offered by stock television speakers. Manufacturers have been literally crawling over themselves to address this second tier market with simple solutions. Home Theater In a Box (HTIB) products are fairly straightforward to install, but still require wires to be run and can be space invasive. That leads us to another product category: sound bars.

Sound bars come in a variety of sizes and configurations (some have separate subwoofer options) and run the gamut of price points. Many, though, settle in $300-500 range. They are billed as offering a taste of the good life (that being a true surround system), and many are now shipping with advanced capabilities such HD audio decoders and streaming capabilities for connection to wireless devices or internet radio.


One sound bar manufacturer is Vizio. Vizio is a company that has been happily rolling along through these tough economic times. In fact, they were one of two LCD display manufactures that showed three straight quarters of growth in 2013 (reporting 18% growth in Q3) amid what has been a declining LCD display market. Vizio’s vision is simple, according to Matt McRae (Vizio CTO): “VIZIO’s focus has always been to make the best technology accessible to all consumers.” Vizio has done this through succeeding both inside and outside of the display sector. McRae claims that Vizio is now the “number one” manufacturer of sound bars in the US; a claim supported by Quixel Research's Q3 2013 Sound Bar Market Report.

Vizio recently announced a new wall mountable flagship sound bar product that measures a whopping 54-inches wide, made specifically for displays 55-inches or larger. It’s dubbed the Vizio S5430w and the company says it’s overall width separates the left and right channels resulting in a better stereo sound experience. The unit is capable of a 103 decibel output (<1% total harmonic distortion), using a three speaker array (3-inch LCR) and a single 4-inch bass driver. It includes several onboard decoders including Dolby Digital Surround, DTS Circle Surround, DTS TruVolume, and DTS 3.0 Channel decoding.

“As more and more consumers upgrade their living rooms with larger big screens, the audio experience also needs to step up accordingly,” said McRae. “The 54” 3.0 configuration features everything consumers need to pair their high-performance big screen with an immersive, room-filling audio experience, all in a beautifully simple design that sets up quickly and easily.”

The specs on the total package look fairly decent. Its frequency response is reported to be 60-Hz-20kHz...which isn’t as deep as many would hope for, but not entirely bad. This doesn’t take into account that owners can choose to power bass through a standalone subwoofer (it has one sub-out connection). Other connectivity options are present (but limited), including single RCA, 3.5mm Stereo, Coaxial (digital audio), HDMI IN/OUT, and USB inputs. Bluetooth connectivity is also available for streaming music from playback devices enabled with aptX technology.

The S5430w is available now from Vizio.com for $299 shipped.

Image Credit: Vizio.com
 

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Nice little write up Todd. One of the better product previews I've read in a while, regardless of product. :T
 

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thanks todd, i'm gonna have to take a hard look at vizio as a fix for my bedroom tv viewing,i've heard quite the buzz regarding vizio being a quality contender in the vast amount of sound bar options out there.at that price it makes it even more interesting.
 
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