• Value: 17
• Functionality: 19
• Quality/Ease of Use: 19
• Aesthetics: 17
• Movie Theater Magic: 20
• TOTAL: 92/100
When the world shut down last March, I became semi-obsessed with my at-home movie viewing experience. Perhaps that’s because in non-pandemic times, I’m a bit of a regular at the theater. Pay $15 (ahem, New York City prices) to see the latest Marvel/Meryl/Mission Impossible film? I’m all in. In fact, pre-pandemic, I went to the movies on a near-weekly basis. (As we all know, it’s still TBD as to when movie theaters will be able to fully re-open again.)
Hence the sudden need to zero in on my own home theater setup.
First up, we made the decision to upgrade our TV. (After all, our former flat screen was nearly eight years old, and as we neared Black Friday, the LG CX Series OLED 4K TV caught our eye and was on sale.) But the sound quality was good, not great, which left me curious about how much of a difference a soundbar would make. Enter the Vizio Elevate with Dolby Atmos.
The setup was unbelievably easy
I don’t want to call this sound bar plug-and-play…but it kind of is? To accomplish the surround sound effect, the soundbar connects to a subwoofer—also included—that it syncs with wirelessly via Bluetooth. (Note: You’ll need to find a place in the room to set this up.) Beyond that, you’ve got two wireless surround speakers that are a breeze to wall-mount. (Just a couple of screws—mine were placed at equal height on either side of our couch.) The only hiccup is the fact that the speakers are tethered to the subwoofer, which requires an outlet to run. Still, the cord that comes with it is lengthy (about 30 feet). To adjust the sound quality, there’s a remote, but you can also toggle the raised buttons on the side of the sound bar itself.
It’s also quite luxe-looking
It should be for $1,000, but in matte black, the Vizio Elevate looks, well, quite elevated beneath my TV. It’s also pretty large. At nearly 50 inches in length, it somehow still blends in atop the “media center” (er, a repurposed IKEA bookcase) beneath my wall-mounted flat screen. I do think it helps that its length almost matches the size of my TV. Given the color combo (black and black), it looks like they came paired together. Never a bad thing.
The sound quality is cinematic
What really makes the Vizio Elevate sing is its Dolby Atmos technology. (FYI, Dolby Atmos is the sound experience most used in movie theaters and one that relies on varying height channels to create a more immersive sound.) Let’s take WandaVision, for example. (Yes, it’s a TV show, but it’s Marvel, so it counts.) The sound bar recognizes that this show is enhanced with Dolby Atmos and automatically activates its built-in motorized speakers (located on either end of the sound bar), so that they rotate from their front-facing position to bounce sound off the ceiling. In conjunction with the sub-woofer and the wall-mounted speakers, the movie theater effect is real. (When Vision flies from one end of town to the next, the sound moves from the left to the right speaker in a way that makes you feel like you’re in the same room with him.)
As for standard content that’s not enhanced with Dolby Atmos? Enter One Night in Miami. The motorized speakers stay put in their forward-facing position, but the sound is still crisp and clear. (When Leslie Odom Jr. as Sam Cooke belted out the film’s final tune, the world around me stopped—a testament to him, but also this device.)
But wait, there’s more
The soundbar doubles as a smart speaker, so it can sync with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri. (My Spotify playlists never sounded this good.) It’s also 4K-compatible.
Will it replace the movie theater experience?
No way. A trip to the theater is the first thing I want to do post-pandemic. Will it remain the best part of my at-home viewing habits, post-COVID-19? Absolutely.
The PureWow100 is a scale our editors use to vet new products and services, so you know what's worth the spend—and what's total hype. Learn more about our process here.