Another stab at fixing the Vizio SB36512-F6 Soundbar

About a year and a half ago, I wrote about fixing the SB36512-F6 soundbar as sometimes we just couldn’t hear anything from it. My "fix" seemed to work for awhile, but over the last few months, the problems have been worse. We would start a show using Channels or Netflix (primarily) and got no sound. Lately the volume buttons wouldn’t work (through HDMI-CEC) which is also frustrating. Through a combination of powering down the TV, changing the input on the soundbar, and powering off the outlet for the devices, we were able to get sound again.

I’ve been so frustrated with this that I’ve been on the verge of purchasing another soundbar, but waiting for a Costco sale so that I can take advantage of their return policy when it performs poorly. Today I decided to do another web search to see if others encountered the same problem. Unfortunately my original post was one of the hits! On the positive side, other posts indicated that Dolby Atmos was pretty poor on these types of soundbars which gave me an idea.

In order to get Dolby Atmos on the soundbar, I plugged the Apple TV into the soundbar’s HDMI port and then the TV into the soundbar’s HDMI ARC port. If I was willing to forego Atmos, I had more options for connecting the soundbar. Since I like HDMI-CEC for controlling all my devices, I decided to plug the Apple TV directly into my TV and then plugged the soundbar into the TV using HDMI-ARC.

Initial tests show that the setup works as expected with HDMI-CEC working for controlling volume and the power to the devices (I use power loosely as the devices are always in some type of standby mode). Will this fix my problems? I sure hope so or it is back to the drawing board on how to deal with this frustration.

It still baffles me that getting devices that adhere to standards working together is such a crapshoot. I have no idea how the average person gets any type of technology or electronic device to work.

5 Replies to “Another stab at fixing the Vizio SB36512-F6 Soundbar”

  1. I’m in the same boat as you. The soundbar is super flakey when it comes to hardware cec. I can control the volume without issue and also shut down my tv when I put my Apple TV to sleep. Waking it back up is another matter. So for a year and a half, I just have the Apple TV connected to my tv and use the sound bar via hdmi arc. Everything works fine. Lately, however, I wanted to rediscover atmos, since I now have more content available to me through Disney plus and hbo Max. The sound is impressive. I’ve missed so much. And not only atmos sounds good, but so does my dts content. However, the hdmi-cec problems are still there, so I’ve resigned myself to physically switching my Apple TV from hdmi in from the sound bar to directly into the tv. I have two cables for this…one connected to the sound bar, and one connected to the tv. I have kids, so most of the time, I can’t play sound very loud anyway. So for the majority of the time, I have it plugged into the tv. When we do family movie night, I plug my Apple TV into the one connected to the sound bar. Works for now. Hopefully, my next tv will have EARC, and everything will work better.

    1. Hi Tyler,

      Unfortunately with HDMI-ARC I’m finding the soundbar sometimes doesn’t work. As much as I wanted to really like the soundbar, it has been one of my most frustrating purchases. I can’t quite justify purchasing a different brand soundbar, so I live with the issues. I have an automation that changes settings on the soundbar to reset it, but that sometimes fails because the soundbar stops responding on the network.

  2. Very similar issues here. At times the sounds just cuts out completely, but as I navigate the main menu the sound will suddenly turn on. For a while, shows would have the surround sound working but he main dialogue would be silent. I could flip back to the main Apple TV home menu and click around, go back to the show, then it would magically start working. Then for another period, when I would change volume the volume bar on the screen would change but the actual volume coming through the surround sound was the same. And there were even more weird issues. Incredibly flakey software. The only thing that seems to help is to unplug the power to the Vizio and wait a bit and then plug it back in.

    1. I’m experiencing the exact same issues, to a T! So frustrating.

      Thinking of getting a smart outlet to power cycle the damn device every 24 hours on an automation and as needed anytime it’s acting up…getting up to unplug every other time I want to sit down and watch something is so…. fun

  3. I know this is an old post, but I’ve been searching around for people with similar issues and found your blog. We’ve had this soundbar since 2020 essentially trouble free until 2022. Since the middle of last year though, we keep having a recurring issues. The soundbar will suddenly lock out, it won’t respond to any controls, it won’t switch inputs, volume, the sound is gone, etc. Turning it off wouldn’t work. The only thing that worked was power cycling it but even that was only a temporary fix. Now this issue is happening at least twice a week. After trying to deal with it, we couldn’t take it so we disconnected it and moved a Vizio M51ax J6 in the TV room. While it doesn’t have upfiring speakers and instead does virtual Atmos, it does have eARC so I can get better sound quality from my PS5 and Series X. Eventually we will upgrade again to a system with true up fires, but for now this will work. What a frustrating owner experience though, we’ve had another Sony soundbar since 2015 with no issues. I don’t think we can get Vizio again after this.

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