Wharfedale Vista 200S Review

You won't find a better 2.1-channel soundbar for the money

Verdict

This 2.1-channel soundbar and wireless subwoofer combo offers a good performance and exceptional value

Pros

  • Great with movies and music
  • Well-integrated bass
  • Low-profile and well-made cabinet
  • Exceptional value
  • Easy setup

Cons

  • Nothing at this price

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £219
  • 2.1-channel soundbar
  • Wireless subwoofer
  • Dimensions: 90 x 6.2 x 9.2cm
  • 120W total power output
  • 1 x HDMI, 1 x optical, 1 x coaxial, 1 x analogue

What is the Wharfedale Vista 200S?

The Wharfedale Vista 200S is the latest soundbar from the iconic British speaker brand. It’s an affordable 2.1-channel main unit and wireless subwoofer combination that offers limited features, but does at least include an HDMI connection, Bluetooth, and EQ modes. It’s also fantastic value, and allows you to quickly and easily upgrade the audio of your new, ultra-slim TV.

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Wharfedale Vista 200S – Design and connections

The Wharfedale Vista 200S is an attractively designed and well-made soundbar. The main unit is identical to the previously released Vista 200, with a metal front grille, a rounded cabinet, a glossy top and a black finish. The glossy top is annoyingly reflective, but it doesn’t feel like a budget product as you get it out of the box.

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Wharfedale Vista 200S

The soundbar is fairly wide at 900mm, making it ideal for use alongside TVs with screen sizes up to 65 inches. It has a low profile, too, meaning you can place it in front of your TV without blocking the screen. It’s easy to install and offers a choice over whether you stand it in/on equipment (in front of or below your TV) or wall-mount it using the provided brackets and screws.

The Wharfedale Vista 100 featured a proper display on the front of the unit, but the company has dropped that on the Vista 200 and 200S. Here, coloured LEDs indicate the source selected. It’s likely that the display was dropped to keep down the cost of the new soundbars, but it does mean you’ll have to remember the colours for each source.

Wharfedale Vista 200S

All the connections sit in a recess at the rear of the unit, and include a single HDMI connection with ARC (Audio Return Channel), optical and coaxial digital inputs, and a 3.5mm analogue input. The Vista 200S also boasts built-in Bluetooth, making it simple to stream music from mobile devices.

Wharfedale Vista 200S – Features

The Wharfedale Vista 200S is fairly limited when it comes to features. The soundbar houses front-firing left and right speakers, which comprise high-quality dynamic drivers augmented by reflex ports, with each speaker powered by 30W of built-in amplification.

Wharfedale Vista 200S

The Vista 200S’ main feature is the inclusion of an active wireless subwoofer, which is unusual at this price point. The subwoofer itself is styled in black to match the soundbar, and uses a side-firing 165mm driver powered by 60W of amplification.

Wharfedale Vista 200S

The only other feature is the inclusion of a number of preset equaliser settings. There are three EQ modes – Movie, News, and Music – that basically do as their names suggest. Movie gives the audio more presence; News emphasises dialogue; and Music delivers unmolested stereo.

Wharfedale Vista 200S – Operation

The Wharfedale Vista 200S is incredibly simple to set up: just connect the soundbar to the HDMI-ARC input on your TV and you’re off and running. Assuming the ARC is working correctly, you should be able to pass audio from the TV’s tuner and apps, along with any device connected to the TV, back to the soundbar via HDMI.

If that isn’t enough, you also have the optical and coaxial digital inputs, the analogue input and Bluetooth available. This means that, theoretically, you can connect at least five devices to the soundbar – and, depending on the number of HDMI inputs on your TV, possibly more.

Once you have positioned the soundbar and connected everything, all you need to do is place the subwoofer at the front of the room and adjust the bass level as necessary.

Wharfedale Vista 200S

In terms of operating the Vista 200S, there are some basic controls on the soundbar itself. These allow you to change volume, mute the sound, choose the source, select the Bluetooth mode, and turn the soundbar on and off.

However, many of the functions can only be accessed using the provided remote, and these include setting the subwoofer level, play/pause/skip controls for connected Bluetooth devices, and selecting the EQ modes. So despite its small size, don’t go losing the zapper down the back of the sofa.

Related: What is HDMI-ARC?

Wharfedale Vista 200S – Performance

The Wharfedale Vista 200S is a cracking performer for the money, and whether you’re watching TV shows or movies, or simply listening to music, this soundbar has you covered. Its width delivers a wide front soundstage, making it ideal for TVs with a screen size of up to 65 inches, and the overall sound has a good sense of dimensionality.

The Vista 200S has a wide frequency range that goes to the higher end of the scale without loss of detail. Thanks to the active wireless subwoofer it can also plumb the depths, delivering punchy bass that really adds impact. The inclusion of a separate subwoofer shouldn’t be taken for granted at this price point, and really makes a difference.

Wharfedale Vista 200S

The 120W of built-in amplification means the Vista 200S has plenty of kick, and can go fairly loud without sounding harsh or compressed. It can easily fill a modestly sized room with sound and, thanks to its excellent dynamic range, the Wharfedale sounds good at lower volumes as well, producing clear and precise audio that retains smoothness and composure.

If you put on an energetic Blu-ray soundtrack such as Ready Player One, you get an exciting rollercoaster of a ride. The sounds of the opening race are spread across the front of the room, with some precisely rendered effects and plenty of bass as King Kong makes an appearance. There’s no real sense of surround, but it’s a full-blooded performance.

However, within all the action, dialogue remains clear and focused on the screen. This is particularly impressive because the Vista 200S doesn’t have a dedicated centre speaker. The solid mid-range also helps in this area, ensuring that dialogue remains detailed and coherent. The Movie EQ mode does a good job of adding space to the sound without making it echoey.

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Wharfedale Vista 200S

While good sound with movies is important, the majority of our TV viewing is related to other programming such as the news, dramas, cookery shows, documentaries and sport. The Vista 200S handled all these just as well, retaining clear dialogue while delivering the music, effects and crowd noises with clarity. If you feel the need to boost the dialogue slightly, the News EQ mode can be very handy for improving the clarity of speech.

The Vista 200S can breathe new life into anything when compared to the speakers in your TV, giving music and effects more weight thanks to the amplification, larger speakers and separate subwoofer.

A soundbar might not be your first choice when listening to music, but the Vista 200S sounds very accomplished thanks to its stereo speakers. The Music EQ mode basically keeps the signal clean and unprocessed, allowing the sound to be delivered as recorded – and, once again, there’s a smoothness and clarity to the delivery that’s very appealing.

Why buy the Wharfedale Vista 200S?

The Wharfedale Vista 200S combines an attractive design with  excellent performance; it’s easily one of the best soundbars we’ve tested in the sub-£250 sector of the market. The feature-set might be limited, but we doubt you’ll find another soundbar that includes a wireless subwoofer for the same price. As such, the Vista 200S offers exceptional value for money.

If you’re looking for alternatives at this price point then you’re going to struggle. In fact, we can’t even think of another soundbar that includes HDMI and a wireless subwoofer for less than £250. The closest is the Acoustic Energy Aego Soundbar, which costs the same and includes a separate subwoofer – but it’s wired, not wireless, and there’s no HDMI connection.

Related: Acoustic Energy Aego Soundbar review

Verdict

This well-made soundbar and subwoofer combination delivers fantastic value and a great performance with TV, movies, and music. Features are limited but it allows you to easily upgrade the sound on your TV without breaking the bank.

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