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September 2019 ertonline.co.uk


US challenger brand Vizio launches in the UK with Dolby Atmos soundbar


By Steve May


One of the most disruptive CE brands in America has entered the UK retail arena. California based Vizio, which has carved out a formidable reputation in the TV and soundbar market, has launched with a compact Dolby Atmos soundbar, the SB36512. Just 36-inches across, it is designed to bring a 5.1.2 listening experience to UK living rooms with smaller screens. Vizio is targeting the UK before entering other key European territories, because of its strategic importance, said Craig Cahill, Director of Corporate Development.


“The UK is an incredibly important market for us,” he told ERT, “not least because of the support given to Dolby Atmos by BT and Sky, who are using the sound format day in, day out. There’s probably more Dolby Atmo s content available in the UK than anywhere else.”


In its home territory, Vizio now claims


the number one market position in soundbars. Having launched its first in 2009, it has sold over 9.6 million units. “Through the years we really have been proven to disrupt different market cycles. Dolby Atmos is another opportunity for us,” said Mr Cahill. Retailing for £600, the


debut


soundbar integrates two up-firing Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers with stereo front mid-range woofers and a mid-range centre channel. The supplied wireless subwoofer has a six- inch driver. The soundbar ships with two wired rear speakers. While there’s no room calibration


microphone required, the system offers adjustments to cope with different room sizes and ceiling heights. The Atmos output from the up-firing speakers can increase by as much as 6dB, to maximise the immersive listening experience. “We try to give as much setup flexibility as possible,” explained Todd


Baker, Director of Audio Product Management.


“If you buy for a room that has a low ceiling, and then later on take it into a room that has cathedral ceilings, you can apply a Dolby virtual height effect,” he noted.


During its official unveiling, Vizio also


previewed two additional soundbars. The US flagship SB465.4, which adds up-firing Dolby-enabled rear speakers, for a fully immersive 5.1.4 soundstage, and a simplified model, the SB36312-G6, with no rear speakers supplied. The latter is scheduled for an autumn UK launch.


ERT-SEP19-MONTPELLIER:ERT-SEP19-MONTPELLIER 08/08/2019 15:37 Page 1


Mitch Li, VP of Audio, said the decision to launch with the 36- inch model rather than the larger premium speaker was to maximize


the potential audience. The 36-inch bar is best suited to screen sizes smaller than 55-inches, he said. “One size does not fit all. So what we tried to do is create sizes that fit different environments. If you have a small apartment, a 46-inch soundbar and 10-inch subwoofer may not be right for you. What we tried to do is provide options for people.”


The SB36512 includes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, and has Chromecast built-in with voice-control via Google Assistant. Distribution is through Exertis. While


Vizio says it has ambitious retail plans, it’s coy about any moves to also bring its TV line-up to the UK. Mr Cahill insisted that the brand currently has no plans to enter the UK TV market.


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