"So you want to know about the LEDs?"5.0 starson by Mc-Cauley
Pros: + Sound quality is great
+ Very easy to set up
+ Distinct, controllable, dialog channel
+ Wireless connection to rear of room
+ Excellent value
Cons: - Setup is the lack of additional inputs
Summary: Many reviewers note the problem with the LEDs going out but don't go into too much depth about the importance of the LEDs, which made the decision to buy this product somewhat of a risk for me. Therefore, I would like to focus the first part of my review on that aspect of the product.Update Link
I've had my 510 for about 2 weeks now and have mostly loved it. The LEDs work flawlessly for me (so far), but what are they really for? What's the big deal with whether or not the lights work? Okay... There are 2 areas of the lights; one area (on top) that tells you what "audio mode" you're in, and a second area that tells you volume and balance (whether bass is high/low, whether the center channel is louder relative to the rear, etc).
The lights on top tell you what signals you have. If you receive a Dolby signal, the light on the left--directly underneath the DTS/Dolby logos--will come on and it will be blue. In the user manual, this light is referred to as being "Position 1". If you receive a DTS signal, the light under the DTS/Dolby logo will be orange. If you don't receive a Dolby or DTS signal, that light just won't be on. I would imagine that if you didn't have that light on, it would be annoying because you wouldn't know (unless you've got the ears of a bat) for sure whether you're getting a true HD signal.
However, I don't have animalistic ears so I pretty much rely on that light to tell me whether I've got HD audio. The great thing about this setup though is that even without the Dolby/DTS, the sound is fantastic. That's where SRS comes in, which basically simulates surround sound. You have 3 different versions of SRS, each of which have very specific functions.
First there's SRS TruVolume, which is supposed to maintain consistent volume levels when, for instance, changing channels. You know how the volume for a TV show will be comfortable, but then the volume in the commercial blasts you off the couch? SRS TruVolume is supposed to prevent that. (For the record, I don't watch much TV and when I do I just use the TV speakers at a low level anyway, so I can't write on the efficiency of the TruVolume feature). You'll know if you have TruVolume on when the Blue light comes on right below the SRS logo (which Vizio refers to as "Position 3").
Next there's the SRS TruSurround feature, which will simulate an HD surround sound even if there's not a true HD audio source. Here's what I love about this system, and why I probably wouldn't care if the lights failed. Even though I don't have the most sensitive ears, I can tell a significant improvement in surround sound quality when the SRS TruSurround is turned on. You hit the SRS TSHD button on your slide-out remote and you've got instant HD audio. If your lights are working however, you'll know you have this feature when the light in Position 2 (in between the Dolby and SRS logos) turns blue.
Finally with SRS, you have SRS WOW HD which is mainly for listening to music. Currently I'm listening to a fairly rocking KT Tunstall track through these speakers and it sounds like she's putting on a show right in my house--it's truly that clear. Doing a blind test (ie: if the lights weren't on) you can still figure out which setting (Off, TruSurround, or WOW HD) is turned on. When off, the music sounds flat. When Tru Surround is on, the music pretty much only comes out of the front channel speaker and the instruments get drowned out by the vocals. With WOW HD, it sounds like a live concert setup; it just sounds natural is the best way I can describe it--it's perfectly balanced.
The next set of lights come from behind the soundbar foam (or whatever the technical term for the fabric that covers speakers is called). If all volume and balance settings are factory default, you'll have something that looks like this: " ( o )". If you turn up the volume, it'll look like: "(((o)))" and so on and so forth. You can also adjust the bass, treble, subs, center, and rear channels. If you want more sound from the center channel, hit the right button and you'll end up with something that looks like: " o )". Or if you want less from the center, "( o". When it's even, it'll look like "( o )".
These lights are probably more important than the orange and blue LEDs because the changes are much more subtle--except for the volume levels, which are quite noticeable. Having these lights work will let you know exactly where the levels are. However, even with the lights letting me know where the levels are, I still rely more on my own hearing to figure out where I want the sound to be. When I hit the up/down buttons enough to where it sounds good to me, I stop. The light indicators are nice and I hope mine don't quit, but it won't upset me too much if they fail.
All in all, I'm very impressed with the quality of these speakers. Whether I'm watching a blu-ray disc, a movie on Netflix or Amazon VOD, and whether I have a true-HD (Dolby or DTS) source, I feel like I'm in the middle of the shot. Everything sounds crystal clear, from all speaker channels. The only negative about this setup is the lack of additional inputs. Otherwise, it's nearly perfect.
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Updated on Oct 1, 2011
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