This Vizio Dolby Atmos soundbar system defines bang to your buck

Vizio M-Series Elevate Soundbar (M512E-K6)

MSRP $800.00

“The M-Series Elevate 5.1.2 is a scintillating Dolby Atmos system at a sweet price.”


  • Super-easy setup
  • Sleek design
  • Robust sound
  • Big soundstage


  • Height effects need a bit boost

Type “Dolby Atmos soundbar” into your search engine of selection and prepare for frustration. Starting from as little as $350 all the best way as much as $2,000, these one-box solutions vary greatly each in price and capability. Some systems include surround speakers, some don’t. Some include a subwoofer, and a few don’t. Some are easy to establish, and a few aren’t. What are you presupposed to buy? If only there was a Dolby Atmos soundbar system that ticked all the appropriate boxes: Easy setup, great sound, reasonable price.

The Vizio M-Series Elevate 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos soundbar system does exactly that. Read on to search out out why Vizio’s latest sonic triumph makes a complete lot of sense for a complete lot of individuals.

Video review

Out of the box

The one thing I don’t like concerning the Vizio M-Series Elevate is its packaging. To be fair, I generally dislike most soundbar surround-system packaging. But there’s something concerning the gobs of tape and far-too-numerous cardboard tabs on Vizio’s soundbar systems that rubs me the unsuitable way. They’re a pain within the rear to open. But should you can get past that first arduous step, it’s nothing but smooth sailing from there.

It’s rare that I actually have much to say about how a soundbar system looks, but certainly one of the Vizio M-Series Elevate system’s finer attributes is that it’s a reasonably sleek-looking little system. The soundbar is low-slung with rounded-off edges and covered in high-quality fabric. The surround speakers are similarly low-profile in stature, thus may be easily placed in a room without being an eyesore. The included wireless subwoofer is similarly sleek and compact, with an unassuming oval shape that, at first blush, doesn’t scream subwoofer.

Close up view of the fabric covering on the Vizio M-Series Elevate Soundbar (M512E-K6).Riley Young/Digital Trends

Together with the speaker components comes nearly every thing one must get the system connected and operational, all tucked into one accessories box. There are two power cords — one for the soundbar, the opposite for the subwoofer — two exceedingly long surround speaker cables with color-coded RCA jacks on either end, aremote control with batteries, wall-mounting hardware with a wall-mount template, and a green color-coded HDMI cable. You won’t discover a digital optical audio cable or analog audio cables within the box — though the soundbar does support those connection options — but I’ve got no gripe with that since most people will wish to connect this soundbar via HDMI for Dolby Atmos audio. Besides, who amongst us doesn’t have a bin filled with cables we don’t use?

Setup and connections

Establishing a surround sound system doesn’t get much easier than it does with the Vizio M-Series Elevate. The back of every surround speaker has a color-coded RCA jack that matches up with jacks on the back of the wireless subwoofer. Connect the provided color-coded RCA speaker cable between the 2 components, plug the subwoofer into an influence outlet, and the back half of the system is able to go.

After I powered the system up, it was immediately able to go.

For the soundbar, only two connections should be made: HDMI and power. The green color-coded HDMI cable goes into the corresponding green port on the back of the soundbar, after which into an HDMI port marked ARC or eARC on the back of a TV. There may be an HDMI input on the back of the soundbar should you wish to connect a source on to the soundbar and pass the signal along to the TV, but for most people, the best setup might be to let the TV be the connection hub and permit audio to flow to the soundbar from the TV.

There may be one aspect of setup with which I feel Vizio could do a greater job, specifically for owners of Vizio’s own M-Series Quantum X (MQX) TVs. Due to little “nubs” on an MQX TV, the M-Series Elevate can actually be attached to the TV’s legs. This isn’t covered within the soundbar’s manual, neither is it obvious within the TV manual. It could actually be done, though, and provides the sleekest setup. Otherwise, folks will need a generous amount of depth on their media stand to accommodate the depth of the TV together with the depth of the soundbar. After all, should you’re wall-mounting, none of that could be a concern.

Port selection on the back of the soundbar. Riley Young/Digital Trends

There are sync buttons on the back of the M-Series Elevate soundbar and subwoofer for linking the 2 together, but I doubt you’ll need to make use of them. After I powered the system up, it was immediately able to go.


Having control over every channel in a Dolby Atmos surround system is crucial to getting the very best possible sound out of a wide range of setup situations. Some folks will need to put the surround speakers very near their seating area, others will need to put them far-off. Sometimes the left speaker will should be placed farther from the listening area than the appropriate or vice versa. Some people could have larger rooms that need more bass output, others might have to trim down the subwoofer to work higher in a smaller space. Without independent channel control, none of this is feasible. Thankfully, the Vizio M-Series Elevate offers all of the granular controls needed to dial things in.

The tool for these adjustments is the included handheld remote control, which encompasses a small LCD screen at the highest. Levels for right, left, center, surround, surround balance, height, and subwoofer are included. There are also broad treble and bass adjustments available, in addition to several EQ presets and a dialogue level adjustment. The whole lot you would like is here.

Remote control for the Vizio M-Series Elevate Soundbar (M512E-K6).Riley Young/Digital Trends

For basic volume control, a TV’s distant will work just nice, because the M-Series Elevate will gladly take its instructions from a TV, provided the TV has HDMI CEC turned on in its settings menu.

Since I connected the M-Series Elevate to a recent Vizio MQX TV, I didn’t should do anything to get the optimal signal sent to the soundbar, but some folks might have to tinker with their TV’s audio output settings to make sure the HDMI ARC is turned on and that it’s sending a bitstream (not PCM) signal to the soundbar.

Some Vizio TVs also allow quick access to a number of audio settings adjustments in their very own audio menus, allowing users to stash the soundbar distant after setup has been accomplished.

Sound quality

I’ve been testing Vizio soundbars for several years now — most recently the M-Series All-in-one, the M-Series 5.1.2 (non-elevate) Dolby Atmos soundbar, and the unique P-Series Elevate Dolby Atmos soundbar — so I had feel for what to anticipate going into my evaluation of the M-Series Elevate. Still, this soundbar system managed to surprise me a number of times.

Perhaps probably the most remarkable thing concerning the M-Series Elevate system is that its subwoofer performs much better than I expected. Given its diminutive size and fairly cheap-feeling cabinetry, I expected the type of bass performance that I find more annoying than useful. As a substitute, what I heard was downright respectable for a system of this size and value. The low end had loads of punch and rumble without sounding tubby or simply … noisy. Is it high-quality, audiophile-approved bass performance? Absolutely not. But I can consider several soundbar systems that had far worse-sounding bass coming from much larger subwoofer boxes. It’s hard to not see Vizio’s design here as something of a win.

The M-Series Elevate was all the time intelligible and, at times, flat-out pristine.

I used to be also concerned that the system would lean too hard on the subwoofer, on condition that the entire other speakers were very small. It’s not unusual for these one-box solutions to require the subwoofer to cover frequencies well into the midrange, at which point locating the source of the sound (the subwoofer) becomes very easy. For instance, with poorly designed systems, one might hear the upper frequencies of a deep voice coming from the soundbar, with the lower frequencies very clearly coming from wherever the subwoofer is placed within the room. This isn’t desirable.  With better-designed systems, the voice should seem to come back from the middle of the soundbar, with perhaps an omnipresence that doesn’t seem to come back from any particular place. The Vizio M-Series pulls off this sonic trick well.

Since we’ve moved on to speak of voices (see what I did there?), I’m completely satisfied to report that dialogue clarity with the M-Series Elevate was all the time intelligible and, at times, flat-out pristine. The M-Series Elevate may use fairly small drivers inside, but they actually don’t sound small. The truth is, not once did I actually have to make use of the dialogue level adjustment feature. And beyond the meat of the vocal range, the midrange response was generally open and uncontested, enhancing the perceived clarity of the system.

Treble frequencies also got here through with clarity, cleanliness, and barely enough detail to make me grin while watching movies for which the sound foley artists little question had quite some fun creating sound effects for easy actions like opening a door or walking across a dusty picket floor. I felt just like the creak of squeaky door hinges and the crunching of grit under a cowboy boot were palpable. That’s pretty impressive from a soundbar that’s priced well within the midrange territory.

The back of the subwoofer component of the Vizio M-Series Elevate Soundbar (M512E-K6).Riley Young/Digital Trends

Except for impressive fidelity for the worth, I also enjoyed the seamlessness with which surround effects passed forwards and backwards from the soundbar to the surround speakers. At times, I felt completely encircled in surround sound, with audible effects coming from points within the room through which there have been no speakers. A part of that’s owed to the M-Series Elevate soundbar’s surprisingly wide soundstage, which is further enhanced by the undeniable fact that the Dolby Atmos “height” drivers are literally aimed toward the listener when anything aside from a Dolby Atmos track is being plated.

But what about when the M-Series Elevate goes into Dolby Atmos mode? What then? Well, that gets its own section.

Dolby Atmos quality

In some unspecified time in the future, I’ll pen a diatribe on the dilution of the Dolby Atmos brand. But for now, please allow me to easily spell out what type of Dolby Atmos effect the M-Series Elevate can deliver.

In brief, it’s much better than no Atmos in any respect. While the M-Series Elevate doesn’t quite deliver the “dome of surround sound” I hope for any time I take heed to any Dolby Atmos-enabled product (and it might be argued that isn’t what I ought to be expecting, I suppose), the system does offer noticeable height effects and a much larger soundstage than systems that haven’t any up-firing drivers in any respect.

Perhaps I’m spoiled by the marginally costlier (albeit less sleek, should you ask me) P-Series Elevate soundbar, but I believe that having 4 height speakers (5.1.4) is actually essential for convincing dome-like Dolby Atmos sound. There have been times after I was auditioning the M-Series Elevate after I wasn’t entirely sure I used to be hearing anything out of the Atmos speakers, which had been turned upward to fireside off my ceiling. Now, to be clear, the space through which I auditioned this technique has acoustic drop ceiling tiles, which aren’t optimal for refracting sound. Still, I’ve auditioned many Dolby Atmos systems on this space and heard barely more convincing effects. I’ll also indicate that the popcorn ceilings and vaulted ceilings present in many homes across North America are also not ideal for refracting sound back down toward the listener. With that in mind, I actually have a baseline expectation for Dolby Atmos, and hope for it to be met.

A close up of the Vizio M-Series Elevate Soundbar (M512E-K6) on a media stand. Riley Young/Digital Trends

The M-Series Elevate got there, but only just. At one point, I backed every channel however the height channels all the best way down and jacked the peak channels all the best way as much as get as clear a presentation of the Atmos effects as I could. They were there, they usually were fairly loud, but they gave the impression of they were coming from the bar greater than the space above me. Still, when combined with the remaining of the speakers in a balanced manner, they clearly added a way of depth, height, and realism that went missing after I backed the peak channels all the best way down.

All of this to say that while the M-Series Elevate may not deliver probably the most jaw-dropping Dolby Atmos effects specifically, but its overall presentation remains to be pretty jaw-dropping, and the peak channels are actually doing their fair proportion of labor. Without them, the system wouldn’t sound nearly as robust.

The underside line

Sure, this was a reasonably long review for a soundbar, but to be fair, I gave up the products on the very starting: The M-Series Elevate 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos soundbar systems ticks all of the boxes at a really approachable price that’s only going to get more attractive over time. In the event you’re searching for an excellent-sounding soundbar system with a tasty sprinkling of Dolby Atmos effects, you’ll be hard-pressed to search out a sleeker, easier-to-use, more potent-sounding system for the cash. The Vizio M-Series Elevate presently defines the entire “bang for the buck” concept.

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