Headache-free setup and control
Great sound on a budget
Limited audio tuning
No DTS:X or DTS Virtual: X
With the SB-600, Monoprice enters a market previously inhabited by Vizio alone. Vizio debuted its first $500 Dolby Atmos bar (the SB36512-F6) back in 2018. While pricier systems like the Sonos Arc or Vizio’s own Elevate soundbar have better audio and more intuitive features, neither are the Atmos bargains that Vizio, and now Monoprice, offer at the entry level.
About the Monoprice SB-600
- Height x Width x Depth: 3 inches x 4.3 inches x 40.6 inches (bar), 16.5 inches x 9.4 inches x 9.4 inches (subwoofer)
- Weight: 8.8 pounds (bar), 13.2 pounds (subwoofer)
- Speakers/drivers: 9 total drivers; 6 inside the bar, one in each surround speaker; one 8-inch cone in the subwoofer
- Amplification: 410 watts of claimed amplification
- Wireless connection: Bluetooth
- Wired connection: Two HDMI inputs, one HDMI eARC/ARC, digital coaxial, digital optical, 3.5mm analog
- Sound formats: Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD
- Video support: 4K HDR, Dolby Vision passthrough
For the sake of convenience, Monoprice included everything needed to get the SB-600 up and running. Not only are there HDMI, digital optical, and 3.5mm analog cables included, but Monoprice also tossed in wall mounting brackets for both the bar and the rear speakers. Plus, the company made the underrated addition of a pair of AAA batteries to power the system’s remote.
What we like
A surprisingly sharp aesthetic
At your leisure, give Monoprice a search on Amazon. While the brand is generally well-regarded for being able to make affordable products across a wide range of categories, it isn’t typically known for its knack for dressing those products fashionably. The SB-600, though, may net Monoprice some recognition in the aesthetics department.
Intentional or not, the SB-600 takes a few cues from the Sonos Arc with its dark finish and rounded edges. It’s not quite the visual spectacle that the Arc is, but it does feel like a solid attempt to emulate the look for $300 less.
The sizes of the included wireless subwoofer and surround speakers are their strong points, being big enough to avoid any major sound concessions but small enough to tuck into most nooks and crannies of the average living space.
Easy setup, simple functionality
From a setup standpoint, the SB-600 checks all the boxes. It has multiple connections to choose from—with HDMI eARC being the overwhelming favorite here since it’s the only connection that supports Atmos—as well as an automatic pairing feature to sync the soundbar, subwoofer, and rear speakers as soon as they’re powered on.
Unlike Vizio’s Atmos bars, the rear speakers in this configuration aren’t tethered to the subwoofer, but to each other. One speaker in the pair will need to connect to power, and the two need to be chained together via an additional cable, so you aren’t exactly getting fewer wires by opting for the Monoprice. You do, however, get the luxury of being able to place the subwoofer in an optimal location in your living room, which can be important both for audio and decorative purposes.
There are a lot of buttons running up and down the SB-600’s remote, but they each represent quick, painless control of several essential functions. Options for adjusting bass and treble flank the volume buttons in the center of the remote, with dedicated buttons for each source sitting above them and an EQ button that toggles through four DSP sound modes resting below. There are a few questionable choices elsewhere that we’ll touch on later, but it’s a remote that most people will have no issue using.
Detailed audio, Atmos or otherwise
Dolby Atmos is the main attraction of the SB-600, and justifiably so. Out of the box, I found Monoprice’s three-dimensional soundbar to be on par with the quality of Vizio’s soon-to-be-released Atmos system. Fight scenes in the latest episodes of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier had exactly the impact I was hoping for, with the bar’s upfiring drivers accurately following Anthony Mackie’s Falcon as he took flight in different sequences.
I also caught Godzilla vs. Kong, which honestly could not have been released at a better time for the purpose of this review. It’s the perfect action-packed Dolby Atmos fodder we all thought it was going to be, starting minutes into the film with Godzilla fielding attacks from fighter jets in the giant lizard’s first appearance on screen. The SB-600 made sure the jets came screaming in from above, generating an awe-inspiring level of immersion.
The same caveat I had with Vizio’s Atmos bar also applies here: there are better-sounding Dolby Atmos soundbar systems available. But at this price, Vizio and Monoprice are the only players in the game, and they both do budget Atmos very well.
The SB-600 isn’t a one-trick pony when it comes to sound, either. The system produces detailed audio quality overall, and while I prefer Vizio’s sub, Monoprice’s 8-inch woofer offered plenty of punch to enjoy bass-forward movies and music alike. I was most impressed with the center channel of the SB-600, as it consistently delivered clear dialogue that didn’t seem to be overpowered by other aspects of the soundstage. The capable center channel came in clutch during a recent binge watch of Bridgerton, with several crowded ballroom scenes scattered throughout the series proving to be no contest for the SB-600.
What we don’t like
An unfortunate lack of customization
It’s a good thing that the SB-600’s center channel is solid since there wouldn’t be much that I could have done to amend the situation otherwise. The soundbar does have four different EQ modes (Movie, Music, Sports, and Voice) that change the sound of the system, and there are options to adjust bass, treble, and volume of the surround speakers. But that’s where the customization ends.
By comparison, Vizio’s M-Series gives you control over the levels of each individual element in the system. You can boost the bar’s height channels to create a more pronounced Dolby Atmos effect (important for those with high ceilings). Or, if you wanted to place an increased emphasis on vocals, you could crank up the level of the bar’s center channel. The SB-600 sounds very good purely as a plug-and-play product, and it’s entirely possible that you won’t need those kinds of adjustments. But it would have been nice to be able to tune the SB-600 to taste, especially when its direct competitor does exactly that.
Where’s the Wi-Fi?
Just like the Vizio M-Series, the Monoprice SB-600 is still an impressive value without the addition of Wi-Fi. Frankly, both bars are already doing quite a lot more than many soundbars with far loftier price tags can boast. But at this point, it just feels like these brands are holding out on us.
Bluetooth will satisfy the everyday person’s music streaming desires, though the audio quality and interruption-prone playback will leave something to be desired. But streaming is really only half of it. Firmware updates can be integral for today’s modern systems, and they’re far less accessible without built-in Wi-Fi.
Atmos, and only Atmos
It may currently be the less popular alternative to Dolby Atmos, but DTS:X is still a sought-after 3D sound format. Monoprice’s SB-600 doesn’t support it, nor does it support its virtual cousin DTS Virtual:X.
It wouldn’t have been as much of an issue under normal circumstances. But the fact that Monoprice’s closest competitor, Vizio, just released a soundbar that supports both technologies certainly doesn’t help the SB-600’s case.
The SB-600 has a one-year manufacturer warranty. It does not cover any defects from negligence, misuse, or modifications to the soundbar according to Monoprice.
Should you buy it?
Yes, if you can find it cheaper than Vizio’s Atmos bar
The Monoprice SB-600 accomplishes something that we previously believed only Vizio was capable of. It creates an impactful, three-dimensional soundstage that significantly enhances the home theater experience for less than $500. It is the new, exciting kid on the block. However, it’s not better.
The SB-600’s stock sound is just as good as the M-Series, and its wireless subwoofer isn’t limited by the location-based constraints of wired rear speakers. But even if you don’t see yourself fully utilizing the tuning capabilities of the Vizio, you’ll surely miss them if you ever do run into a situation where the SB-600’s sound needs a helping hand. Plus, if and when the availability of DTS:X-supported content expands, the M-Series has properly future-proofed its system.
If you can pick up the SB-600 for a modest discount (like its recent dip to $400), it’s a great buy. But on a level playing field, the Vizio M-Series has the edge thanks to its better sound customization. Without question, the SB-600 is an incredible value for the money that most other soundbars in this price range simply can’t compete with. The Vizio is just a little better.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Nick Woodard is a tech journalist specializing in all things related to home theater and A/V. His background includes a solid foundation as a sports writer for multiple daily newspapers, and he enjoys hiking and mountain biking in his spare time.
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