We have been in our house now for a little over 7 months. And as previously mentioned, it has taken a while to get settled in. We are still not done! Each room is a project! And we will not consider all rooms done until we finally paint and get some artwork on the walls.

We are blessed to have 2 family rooms in our new home. There is one on the first floor in the open living area. And there is a huge loft area on the 2nd floor. The space is approximately 26′ x 14′. This is the kid zone. This is where my kids watch TV, and where my boys play video games. And since my kids actually lost some space in their bedrooms from what they had in our old house, we knew that we wanted it to be comfortable for them to hang out.

 

The Electronics

Of course the most important thing in our 2nd floor family room is the entertainment. Movies, music, and gaming rule. You already know that I love my VIZIO products. Last year I reviewed the beautiful VIZIO M-Series 50″ 4K Ultra HD Television. This TV now sits in our 2nd floor family room. And yes, it is still awesome. VIZIO recently made some great improvements to the function of the TV by pushing out new firmware that enabled the SmartCast TV interface to display on the VIZIO screen, making it more like other smart televisions.

In the past, we had to use either the tablet remote of the VIZIO SmartCast app on a mobile device or tablet to cast content to the TV. They also sent out free replacement remotes to owners which added more features like direct buttons for Netflix, Vudu, Crackle, and iHeart Radio.

You can see if you own an eligible TV and order your replacement remote at vizio.com/remote. I have to admit that I loved this. My kids would constantly forget to charge the tablet remote! Now we have the option of using both.

 

The VIZIO SmartCast Sound Bar System

Not too long ago, I told you about using Google Chromecast to create a whole house audio system in your home. As mentioned in that post my old house was wired with whole house audio. Back then there were not great wireless options for streaming the same music all over the house. But now? Not only is the Google Chromecast a great option for bringing your existing speakers into the fold of your whole-house audio system, manufacturers are busy making great speaker options that have Chromecast built-in! One of those is VIZIO. So my VIZIO system has been has been made even more awesome with the addition of the 36″ 5.1 VIZIO SmartCast Sound Bar System. I was very excited to try this out, because since we moved we realized that the power adapter for our old sound bar is missing!

 

What’s Included?

The system includes everything that you need to fill your room with sound. It comes with the Sound Bar, Wireless Subwoofer, two Satellite Speakers, 5’ RCA/3.5mm Mini Jack Cable, 5’ 3.5mm Cable, 5’ Optical Toslink Cable, 5’ Digital 75 RCA (Coaxial / SPDIF), 5’ HDMI Cable, Power Cord for Sound Bar & Subwoofer, and Satellite Speaker Wires.

Tech Specs

  • Sound Bar Size – 36″
  • System Frequency Response – 50 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Subwoofer Speaker Size – 5.2″
  • Sound Pressure Level – 101dB
  • Sound Enhancement Technology – Dolby Digital®, DTS Studio Sound™, DTS TruSurround™, DTS TruVolume™, DTS Digital Surround™
  • Bluetooth – Yes
  • Sound Bar Buttons – Power, Input, Volume Up, Volume Down, Bluetooth
  • Remote – Yes, with LCD Display
  • Installation – Table Top and Wall-Mountable

Connections

  • Analog Audio Input – 3.5mm stereo mini jack
  • Digital Audio Input – Optical (Toslink)
  • Digital Audio Input – RCA (Coaxial/SPDIF)
  • USB Input – USB (for .WAV Audio Playback)
  • HDMI Input – Yes
  • Bluetooth® Input – BLE 4.0
  • Wi-Fi Input – 802.11ac
  • Ethernet Input – Yes
  • HDMI ARC – Yes
  • IR Receiver – Up to 30 feet

 

The sound is awesome!!! This little system has a lot of power. My husband, who is a DJ and music producer even said, “Wow! Did you hear that music upstairs??? That system sounds like a night club!” And I have to agree. I am very impressed with the sound that it puts out.

I love the look. The Sound Bar sits neatly on top of our entertainment stand, and the speakers are situated next to the couch to provide optimal sound.

I left the hookup and placement up to the hubby since he obsesses over this stuff! He placed the satellite speakers to the left and right of the couch. Ideally, they should be a bit behind your sitting position, but we have our couch up against the wall so we could not push them back any further.  However, the surround sound effect is still incredible. The subwoofer it tucked into the corner between the couches.

Setup was fairly simple. And now that it is hooked up to our VIZIO television we can use the same remote to control both systems. The TV and the Smart Bar are connected using the HDMI (Arc) interface. ARC stands for Audio Return Channel. Using HDMI ARC allows the ability to use one remote for all of your connected devices’ most common functions. Our XBox, Playstation, and cable box are hooked up to the television.

The television is then hooked up the the Smart Bar with only the one HDMI cable. It could not have been easier.

Now, when we are feeling musical we can stream sound all over the house using Chromecast and it streams to the VIZIO Sound Bar as well as the Chromecast connected to our downstairs system! I often use my Android phone to pull up songs on my Google Play Music playlist. But, my favorite thing to do is just say “Hey Google, play Pandora on The Mac House” using my Google Home.  And the sound is incredible!

Not sure this video will do it justice, but it will give you an idea of just how great it sounds.

 

At just over $200, I would definitely recommended the 36″ 5.1 VIZIO SmartCast Sound Bar System.

The Furniture

Once the system arrived, I knew that we would need a new entertainment stand to house it and the TV, and some great speaker stands to hold the adorable little satellite speakers.

When we moved the cheapy entertainment stands that I had for the television and stereo system did not survive. They fell apart! We threw them out and knew that at some point we would have to get new units for both family rooms. I knew the type of stand that I wanted for the 2nd floor family room, but I had to find it. It needed to be large enough to hold our 50″ TV, the boy’s XBox, Playstation, and all of the accessories that go along with that.

 

And I wanted hideaway storage.  After some looking, I settled on this reasonable TOMNÄS TV storage unit from IKEA. It was only $199 and it will serve the purpose well.

 

I also purchased 4 KNIPSA baskets to store game controllers, cables, cords, and other random junk that we want to keep out of sight.

 

 

For the speaker stands, I ordered these Mounting Dream MD5401 Height Adjustable Speaker Stands from Amazon.com (affiliate link). At only $35 for the pair it was a great deal.

As for the furniture, my set is one that I’ve had for about 10 years. It was in the living room of my old house. It fit perfectly in the 2nd floor family room.

And, not too long ago, I was browsing one of the sales groups on Facebook and saw someone post these awesome chairs that matched my set perfectly. I picked them up for only $75. At the time I was not quite sure where I would fit them in the old house, but I could not pass up that deal.

And then there is the Papasan chair! Strange addition? Yes it. We picked this up at a neighborhood sale for $5! My kids loved it, so I gave in. When we first arrived they had the price tag set at $100. As the day went on and no one was buying, they kept dropping the price, $75, $50, $25. Finally when it was time to pack up they came to me and told me that it was our’s for $5 if we were still interested. I had to make some repairs to the base using glue and nails, but now it’s great. My kids love lounging in it to read.

So far I am pretty happy with how things have come out. However, there are still a few things that need to be done. I still need to…

  • Paint: When you purchase a newly built home sometimes your builder will suggest that you wait at least a year before painting. This is because of settling that occurs in the first year. Cracks are likely to show up in the walls and it is much easier to patch white walls than it is to patch and repair your beautiful colors walls. So our walls are white for a few more months.
  • Add curtains: When we moved in we quickly added mini-blinds everywhere just to get the windows covered. However, we need real window treatments soon.
  • Add Plants: I am trying to get my green thumb back. Both of my parents had great green thumbs. Having plants in the home makes it more lively, and of course plants are beautiful.
  • Finish hanging wall art: I have a few pictures that I want to add to the walls. I started putting some up, but I have a few more to add.

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