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  • About the Vizio M-Elevate Soundbar

  • What we like

  • What we don’t like

  • Should you buy it?

Pros

  • Detailed, immersive sound

  • Exceptional Dolby Atmos

  • Innovative design

Cons

  • Takes effort to fine tune

  • No Wi-Fi

Updated August 15, 2022: The first M-series Elevate model we reviewed appeared to have a faulty subwoofer. After receiving a new review sample, we’ve updated this review to reflect the improved bass performance.

Vizio’s M-Series Elevate soundbar offers impressive sonic immersion at a relative bargain.

About the Vizio M-Elevate Soundbar

A black soundbar sits on a wooden TV console under a TV with Umbrella Academy playing.
Credit: Reviewed/Jackson Ruckar

The Vizio M-Series Elevate is similarly sized to its larger sibling, but with speakers that roll up inside the bar itself.

Here's a look at the system's main specs:

  • Height x Width x Depth: 2.59 x 41.38 x 4.73 inches (bar), 9.57 x 7.88 x 13.78 (subwoofer)
  • Weight: 8.69 pounds (bar), 8.88 pounds (sub)
  • Speakers/drivers: two 2.3-inch dual drivers (left/right channels) one 2.6-inch dual driver (center), two 2.3-inch drivers (front height channels), five .75-inch tweeters (soundbar), two 2-inch full-range drivers (rear channels), one 6-inch subwoofer driver (subwoofer)
  • Amplification: Not disclosed
  • Wireless connection: Bluetooth (no Wi-Fi)
  • Wired connection: One HDMI eARC/ARC, one HDMI input, one digital optical input, one 3.5mm auxiliary input, one 3.5mm stereo input, one USB input
  • Sound formats: Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS:X, DTS Virtual: X
  • Video support: 4K HDR/Dolby Vision passthrough

There’s little trouble to be had installing the M-Series Elevate. It comes prepared with a healthy assortment of connections, including optical and 3.5mm inputs, an HDMI input, and HDMI ARC/eARC connection. Most users (and any that want to utilize Dolby Atmos) will want to simply connect the system via the included HDMI cable to their TV’s HDMI ARC or eARC port.

The one installation quirk of note is the rear speakers, which wire in directly to the system’s subwoofer. That means your sub may need to be set at the back of your listening space, which is something to keep in mind in case you have a unique and/or difficult room layout.

What we like

Sleek, futuristic design

A black soundbar sits on a wooden TV console under a TV.
Credit: Reviewed/Jackson Ruckar

The bar's endcaps pop out when the speakers detect Dolby Atmos, rolling upward within the bar to bounce sound off your ceiling.

The previous installment in Vizio’s Elevate soundbar lineup, the P-Series (aka, The Elevate soundbar), turned heads with its innovative design. When an Atmos signal is detected, the soundbar’s height channels visually rotate upward to belt out the ensuing three-dimensional sound. They then roll back down for regular content like music or your average sitcom for even more speakers blasting sound to the listening position.

In a push for something a little more subtle, Vizio tweaked the design of the M-Series version. Now when Atmos is on deck, left and right port tubes will extend from their respective ends of the bar and the speakers roll upward internally. When the height channels are pointed forward, the tubes will be hidden away, waiting for their next opportunity to bounce frequencies off your ceiling.

It’s really more of a subjective matter as to whether spinning speakers or sliding tubes is more of a distraction to your viewing experience. That aside, there’s no denying that there’s a delightful shock and awe that accompanies watching the soundbar transform before your eyes as you’re getting your fill of 3D audio.

The one Vizio design choice that hasn’t won me over is the decision to steer clear of a digital display on the front of the soundbar. The package’s handy remote will get you where you need to be most of the time, but it would be nice to have a visual of which input or EQ the soundbar is set to, rather than the bar loudly and audibly pronouncing it each time you make a change.

Immersive, detailed soundstage

Dolby Atmos is the hot commodity of the hour, and deservedly so. That said, there is something spectacular about well-executed surround sound, especially when so many modern Dolby Atmos soundbars don’t come packaged with rear speakers. Imagine my ear-to-ear grin, then, as I finished the M-Series Elevate setup, adjusted a few (well, several) settings, cued up the Wakanda fight in Avengers: Infinity War and let the system go to work.

When Thor made his grand entrance to the battlefield and unleashed his mighty ax on a swarm of unsuspecting alien henchmen, I couldn’t contain my giddiness as Stormbreaker boomeranged its way around my living room. The precision that this godly weapon moved with, both on screen and from speaker to speaker across the room, was nearly enough to sell me then and there.

When Thor made his grand entrance to the battlefield I was nearly sold then and there.

Fortunately, that was just the tip of the testing iceberg. With new episodes of Ms. Marvel, season 4 of Westworld and more dropping during my testing period, the M-Series had plenty of opportunities to showcase its delightfully crisp, detailed soundstage. Even with less dynamic content, such as comedian Bill Burr’s new Netflix special Live at Red Rocks, the M-Series delivered.

There are a few notable exceptions to this bar’s audio prowess. Listening to music is rather … meh. Much like the P-Series, Vizio’s latest soundbar isn’t a bad listen when it comes to your favorite playlists. It’s certainly suitable as background accompaniment while making dinner or doing chores. But for more focused listening, it just doesn’t move through frequencies in the same way as a music-focused soundbar like the Sonos Arc or even the affordable Polk Audio Signa S4 consistently do.

One additional note: bass performance from the M-Series was good, at least the second time around. The original unit we received was likely dysfunctional, as it produced surprisingly underwhelming low end. A new model was shipped fresh from the factory, though, and it sings a significantly different story. It’s still not the most impressive soundbar subwoofer I’ve heard for its size but it does fill out the bass frequencies nicely in movies and music alike. It’s right in the pocket of what you’d expect from a soundbar subwoofer of its size. Not necessarily more, but certainly not less.

Exceptional Atmos for (comparatively) less

A black surround sound speaker sits on a wooden table.
Credit: Reviewed/Jackson Ruckar

The surround sound speakers help the system offer impressive immersion, though they don't offer upfiring drivers like the P-Series Elevate.

The M-Series Elevate’s design isn’t just an excuse to show off some flashy tech, although it earned Vizio recognition from the International Forum Design, a German international design competition. The three-dimensional sound that the bar’s roll-up speakers and extendable ports help create is real, and it’s spectacular for the price.

I have never wanted a Tom Cruise movie at home more than during my time reviewing the M-Series, but alas, Top Gun: Maverick wasn’t close to hitting the streaming circuit. Luckily, Disney+ has quite the catalog of Atmos content.

Based on a week spent auditioning an assortment of super hero clashes and outer-space dogfights in a galaxy far, far away, it’s clear that the M-Series Elevate leans much closer to its P-Series counterpart than it does the cheaper M-Series 5.1.2 soundbar. It’s an impressive feat, especially when the M-Series Elevate retails for a full $300 less than the P-Series upon launch.

The P-Series Elevate does add rear height channels into the mix, making for a more immersive environment. Still, the M-Series Elevate hits the sweet spot between Vizio’s budget and flagship Atmos models.

What we don’t like

Not your average plug-and-play soundbar

A black soundbar remote sits on a wooden console
Credit: Reviewed/Jackson Ruckar

We did a lot of tuning to get the bar well-balanced. An auto-calibrate system would be a welcome addition here.

If you’ve read our P-Series Elevate soundbar review, this may seem like a familiar complaint. But the M-Series has an eerily similar flaw in that its best sound settings are far from factory set. Shortly after powering up, I had to boost both the dialogue and center channel levels while lowering the surround levels.

After playing with the multiple preset EQs and learning how to manually engage the height speakers (you can also let the soundbar automatically deploy them), I had at long last reached a satisfying balance of sound.

Wi-Fi went by the wayside

Along with a smaller subwoofer and the omission of rear height channels, Vizio’s other cost-cutting measure with the M-Series Elevate was to remove the Wi-Fi capabilities that are a big part of its predecessor’s feature set (and the majority of soundbars in its class). The bar still has standard Bluetooth capabilities. And to be fair, the vast majority of today’s soundbars will be connected to smart TVs. But losing the superior music streaming option and a way to periodically get firmware updates is a tough pill to swallow, especially at this price point.

Should you buy it?

Yes, but consider your options first

The M-Series Elevate offers much of what makes the more expensive P-Series system a bargain. It pairs a unique design with exceptional performance, creating a level of cinematic immersion not often experienced in this price range. On top of that, it's got serious Dolby Atmos chops at a price that comfortably positions itself as an attractive mid-tier option in the 3D-audio market.

For our money, the biggest omission is Wi-Fi and Chromecast streaming, especially since the older, flagship version of this soundbar features it. The oft-mentioned P-Series Elevate can often be found at a discount, and if you can find it at similar pricing to the newer model, it’s the obvious bar to buy.

The Vizio M-Series 5.1.2 delivers more bass (for less money), but like the M-Series Elevate, you’ll lose Wi-Fi connectivity by going this route and it’s not as immersive as either pricier bar. There are a fair few other great Dolby Atmos soundbars in various iterations and price points to consider, as well.

If the buck doesn’t stop at Wi-Fi, though, the M-Series Elevate is a wonderfully worthwhile option to consider when planning to incorporate immersive, Atmos-enriched sound into your home setup.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

Meet the tester

Nick Woodard

Nick Woodard

Contributor

@@nwoodard25

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.

See all of Nick Woodard's reviews

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