Connecting Vizio SB3851-d0 Soundbar to Windows 10 PC

Discussion in 'Home Theater PCs & Equipment' started by CarlEdman, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. CarlEdman

    CarlEdman n00bie

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    After much research (or so I thought) I decided to replace my ancient Logitech X-530 5.1 analog speaker system with the above-mentioned soundbar. The hope was to both upgrade the sound quality and cut down on my mess of cables by using digital cables and wireless connections to the subwoofer and rear speakers. The system is a recently built Windows 10 Pro x64 with an EVGA X99 FTW-K motherboards (with integrated digital/analog sound) and an EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW GAMING ACX 3.0 video card.

    Turns out nothing works right and many things don't work at all:

    1. Ok, one expection: The soundbar paired with the subwoofer automatically and running the speaker test gave very nice and clear audio from both the front and rear speakers and good-sounding subwoofer.

    2. The SB refused to pair with my iPhone 6plus using the SmartCast app over bluetooth. A dozen tries with the phone held right next to the indicated point with the lights indicating that pairing mode was active each resulted in failure to detect any devices. Curiously, the SB was easily detected over bluetooth as a sound device by both the phone (using the iOS pairing function) and my computer's bluetooth adapter. But of course that didn't make the SmartCast app work.

    3. The SB refused to pair with my iPhone using the SmartCast app over Wifi. About half the time the Vizio wifi network did not appear at all. When it did, I could get a few steps further, but either switching back to my home network failed or it timed out determining the SB's IP address (which is also curious as the IP address assigned to the SB showed up readily on my router's config screen).

    4. In combination this meant that I could not use the SmartCast app at all which rendered most of the instructions useless. It seems that most functions are also available using the remote which comes with the SB, but they are barely documented.

    5. Hooking the SB up via coax S/PDIF resulted in no sound.

    6. Hooking the SB up via optical S/PDIF somewhat worked, but it was impossible to configure the SB as anything but a stereo device in Windows. If all I wanted was stereo sound, I would not bother with a speaker system this expensive and convoluted. I realize that S/PDIF does not support uncompressed 5.1 audio, but it supposedly does support compressed 5.1 audio via Dolby Digital and DTS and I could live with that. And while sending DD and DTS signals via the "Supported Formats" tab under "Manage Audio Devices" does work, the result is still just stereo and nothing plays on the rear speakers or subwoofers.

    7. Hooking the SB up via HDMI IN was a problem. The EVGA 1080 only has a single HDMI port, but plenty of DPs, one of which my 4k60p screen is hooked up to. So I had to sacrifice my Oculus Rift's HDMI port to connect the SB. Ah, well, I had an idea about going SLI anyway, didn't I?

    8. Connected via HDMI the SB still did not work right. Now it was possible to configure the device as 5.1 surround, but all options failed. Running the test with:
    (a) 5.1 Surround with rear speakers: L, C, R, and Sub play correctly. RL and RR are played on R and L instead.
    (b) 5.1 Surround with sude speakers: Ditto
    (c) Surround: L, C, and R play correctly. Rear plays through C. Sub, RL, and RR don't exist.
    (d) Quadraphonic: L and R play correctly. RL and RR played on R and L instead. C and Sub don't exist.
    (e) Stereo: L and R play correctly. RL, RR, Sub, and C don't exist.
    (Turning Surround On and Off on the remote has no effect on this).

    9. No documentation or idea what the Ethernet port does.

    10. Connecting through the optical out of the monitor works, but forces everything down to stereo. That may be the monitor's fault.

    So I am about to give up and send this thing (which apart from not working sounds quite nice and would fit in well in my office) back. Any suggestion for fixing this? Any suggested alternatives which do work?
     
  2. Krispy Kritter

    Krispy Kritter Limp Gawd

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    I got halfway through before I went back and noticed the brand. I've heard nothing but bad to mediocre comments concerning anything Vizio (with the exception of a few of the TV models).

    Having said that (someone that's actually used Vizio hardware will likely be more helpful):

    2/3 - sounds like an app and/or BT issue. I've seen numerous times that not all BT devices work together or work properly together.

    5 - no audio output from chipset, the SB is not selecting the correct input, or that input isn't supported

    6 - should provide stereo audio output from Windows. For DD or DTS, you would need to test using a movie DVD. Most audio chipsets don't convert and output audio as DD/DTS on the fly. They generally output stereo audio for everything except a DD/DTS source which they pass untouched

    8 a/b - with Win7, I have to select 7.1 and disable two speakers to get proper 5.1 audio output. I've tried numerous times selecting 5.1 and it never works as it should. This "bug" could also be present in Win10 (I've not tested)

    8 d - normal. Quadraphonic is stereo (L/R) output over the front and rear ports

    8 e - normal.

    10. TV or monitor? Many/most TV's only output stereo over optical. Some models (with tuners) will output surround for anything that is tuned internally and some higher end models will pass audio untouched.
     
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  3. CarlEdman

    CarlEdman n00bie

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    Fair enough. My experience with them has been pretty mixed too, but the configuration of the system (left, right, and center through the connected soundbar, RL, RR wired to the wireless Sub) was just perfect for my setup and would have really cut down on the cabling.

    Probably. But you'd think they'd test it with one of the most common high-end phones, an iPhone 6+.

    That's too bad. I had hoped that it could encode 5.1 surround from the PC as DD or DTS to deliver to all speakers properly, even if that involves a little compression.

    In Win10, I can't even select 7.1, or I would have tried it.

    It is a Wasabi Mango UHD43, an excellent 4k monitor/TV with tuner discussed at length in a different thread in the forum, but apparently it cannot just pass through optical to the speakers. This somewhat out of date article suggests that only Sony, Samsung, and Vizio(!) TVs correctly do that pass-through correctly. https://www.cnet.com/news/20-tvs-tested-which-sets-can-pass-surround-sound-to-a-sound-bar/

    Thanks for your useful comments!

    It looks like the SB3851 is going back to the vendor. I am still looking for a PC speaker system that can accept 5.1 surround sound through SPDIF (optical or TOSLink) for a reasonable sum (i.e., not much more than $300), preferably with wireless sub and rear speakers. But that category seems to be slim pickings. The closest thing I've been able to find is the Logitech Z-906 (about $300 at Amazon), but all the speakers are wired separately and the reviews are lukewarm. An amplifier and a full sound system might work, but my ears aren't fine enough to justify a $1,000 sound system for my PC. :)
     
  4. Krispy Kritter

    Krispy Kritter Limp Gawd

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    In regards to phones/phone apps, it's been my experience that testing goes out the window when the IOS is updated. More often than not, a phone will work just fine with some hardware, then the ios is updated and it's broke. I see this quite often in regards to car radios.

    As for encoding, that would be a function of your audio chipset. There are a few with that feature.

    I have the previous version of that Logitech set (which were a bit better reviewed). They are OK for computer speakers. Your best bet , would likely be the Receiver/AVR and speakers route. There may be a HTiB option. And I'm sure with a little shopping around and/or piecing the parts together on your own, you could create a system cheaper than $1000, but very likely higher than $300.
     
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  5. CarlEdman

    CarlEdman n00bie

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    Yep, I went back to my Logitech Z-530 set and they are fine and reproduce 5.1 accurately over analog cables. It is just such a cable mess (and the fact that I need to add some extra to swap the left and right front speakers channels because I need my "control" speaker on the left doesn't help.).