Vizio M51ax-J6 review: A soundbar with virtualized Dolby Atmos, DTS:X


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Vizio’s latest mid-range soundbar caters to bargain hunters who want immersive Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio without breaking the bank, and without the need for upfiring drivers that require flat ceilings at just the right height. 

Given that it uses virtualization instead of physical drivers to deliver height cues, it comes as no surprise that the 5.1-channel M51ax-J6 can’t match the precision of pricier soundbars that do have upfiring drivers. You’ll also have to do without Wi-Fi connectivity and audio casting support, although that’s no big surprise given the M51ax-J6’s price tag and feature set. 

Despite those shortcomings, the 5.1-channel M51ax-J6 offers plenty of value, including rich, punchy, and exciting sound, eARC support, and a dedicated audio jack for connecting a smart speaker, such as an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best soundbars. Click that link to read reviews of competing products, along with a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping.


The Vizio M51ax-J6 is a 5.1-channel soundbar with a total of nine drivers. The main soundbar unit comes equipped with three oval-shaped (1.66 x 3.48-inch) full-range drivers and three 0.79-inch tweeters, which supply sound for the left, center, and right channels. Augmenting those drivers is a pair of passive radiators that shore up the soundbar’s bass response. The surround speakers get one full-range driver (1.61 x 2.22 inch) each, while the wireless subwoofer has a five-inch driver.

The M51ax-J6 supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, a pair of object-based audio formats that deliver height as well as surround effects (you can read about those audio formats in this other story). Instead of upfiring drivers that bounce height cues off the ceiling, the M51ax-J6 employs virtualization—namely, DTS Virtual:X—to trick your ears into thinking they’re hearing height effects. While virtualized height channels won’t sound as precise as those you’ll get from upfiring drivers (or, better yet, in-ceiling drivers), they can actually be preferable for those with ceilings that are vaulted, too high (above 14 feet) or too low (below 7.5 feet).

Measuring 36 x 2.2 x 3.5 inches, the M51ax-J6 arrives with a pleasingly low profile. Indeed, the top of the unit just barely clears the bottom edge of my low-slung, 55-inch LG C9 OLED TV, a welcome change from soundbars that block a sliver (or more) of the LG’s screen.

Meanwhile, the wireless subwoofer is relatively compact at 8.25 x 8.25 x 10 inches (WxDxH)—and that’s a good thing, given that most users will likely be positioning the subwoofer near their sofas. Likewise, the 5.6 x 3.4 x 2.25 inch (WxDxH) surround speakers could easily be placed on a small shelf or (even better) mounted on the wall, ideally a foot or two above your head when seated.

Speaking of mounting, the wall-mountable M51ax-J6 comes with mounting brackets, screws, and a template, along with a quartet of cable ties.

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