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Roku Smart Soundbar review: A simple, potent streaming combination

Streaming Tv is blowing up, from Netflix to Disney As well as to Apple Tv As well as to HBO Max to… well, you get the thought. And that means media streamers are being crafted into not only intelligent TVs but also soundbars. I was rather unhappy in the initially hybrid soundbar-streamer I noticed, the JBL Url […]

Streaming Tv is blowing up, from Netflix to Disney As well as to Apple Tv As well as to HBO Max to… well, you get the thought. And that means media streamers are being crafted into not only intelligent TVs but also soundbars. I was rather unhappy in the initially hybrid soundbar-streamer I noticed, the JBL Url Bar, but after examining the able and affordable Roku Smart Soundbar, I am considering it really is a worthwhile combination after all, specifically if you are most important precedence is simplicity.

Like

  • The Roku Smart Soundbar brings together a comprehensive-functionality 4K HDR Roku streamer with a soundbar in 1 affordable package deal.
  • Easy set-up and extraordinary seem from a one bar.
  • Optional $179 subwoofer is a charge-powerful improve.

Don’t Like

  • Some competing streamer-considerably less soundbars are considerably less high priced and seem superior.
  • No buttons on the device (including power) and no remote finder as witnessed on the Roku Extremely.
  • The wi-fi speakers usually are not truly worth the improve, nevertheless.

The Smart Soundbar upgrades both of those your audio and streaming encounter with a one device and 1 remote — just add any Tv. Its seem good quality is good for a subwoofer-considerably less bar and the streaming segment will work as easily I’ve arrive to assume from any Roku streamer, working the company’s uncomplicated software to stream thousands of apps to your Tv. 

Roku also presents two optional add-ons — a wi-fi subwoofer that pumps up the bass $180 and wi-fi rear speakers that produce legitimate surround seem for $150. Both of those perform well improve the bar’s audio capabilities. But if you are selecting among them, I would suggest the sub.

The bar has been rock-sound in my checks but there are some small trade-offs made in the title of simplicity. For instance, there are no buttons on the bar alone, which can be a suffering if you drop the remote or want to rapidly pair a Bluetooth device. And you will find the more substantial concern of redundancy: Roku streamers are cheap, most new TVs are capably intelligent and several separate soundbars are superior overall values. But if you don’t now individual a Roku or other streamer and want a soundbar too, the Roku Smart Soundbar makes a slick all-in-1 leisure technique that’s ideal for older TVs or smaller living locations.

Structure

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Contrary to last year’s Roku Wireless Speakers the intelligent soundbar will work with any Tv (despite the fact that pairing it with a Roku Tv would be the height of redundancy because both of those Tv and bar have Roku crafted-in). The layout is slick for a sub-$two hundred soundbar with its rounded ends and seamless plastic design. It bears a larger similarity to a Bowers and Wilkins Panorama than any of its spending budget competitors.

The speaker is somewhat compact at two.8 inches higher and 32.two inches huge, and it contains a cloth-wrapped front with a one procedure LED light-weight. Driving that grill the device incorporates 4 two.five inch comprehensive-selection drivers.

There is certainly no controls or even a power button on the device alone — just a Roku symbol. Everything is dealt with by the remote.  As an individual who misplaces the remote a ton I located the deficiency of buttons a large headache. Though there is a remote finder on the Roku Extremely, there isn’t really 1 on the soundbar. Of course, you can use Roku’s cellphone application to regulate the bar in a pinch, but that’s not ideal for several folks.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

At the back of the device is an HDMI ARC port, an optical port and a USB port for taking part in media information. There are also a pair of wall-mounting screw holes.

The Roku contains Bluetooth as well as compatibility with Spotify Connect if you use the Spotify application. Considering the fact that the bar lacks buttons you may want to navigate to the Bluetooth tile on the Tv to pair your device, despite the fact that when a device is paired you can stream through Bluetooth with the Tv off. The technique will decode PCM and Dolby Audio soundtracks — no fancy immersive codecs like Dolby Atmos in this article.

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The Roku Smart Soundbar interface contains a Bluetooth tile for connecting telephones


Sarah Tew/CNET

The Roku technique contains 4K movie and help for HDR10, which implies that apps like Netflix and Vudu will search good on a 4K HDR Tv.  

If you are familiar with Roku TVs you may know that the interface presents all of the inputs at the top and they helpfully show the device each and every port is linked to. The Roku Smart Soundbar, on the other hand, won’t provide input switching. The thought is you connect the bar to the Tv through HDMI and then connect anything to your Tv. 

It really is not possible to switch manually to the optical audio input, and optical will only perform if you will find nothing plugged in the HDMI port. Roku states the optical port is presented for TVs that deficiency ARC help through HDMI.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The Roku arrives with the company’s familiar voice remote. It lets you look for with your voice by hitting a button in the center of the wand, as well as offering volume controls on the side. It really is a exciting minimal clicker. If you want to use Roku’s headphone characteristic to pay attention with out disturbing other folks, making use of the Roku application is the only option for the reason that some Roku streamers, the bar’s remote won’t have a headphone jack.

For more bass the firm presents a $179 Wireless Subwoofer as a complement. It really is a sizable device for the dollars, too, at twelve inches cubed, and it incorporates a ten-inch driver. To disable the sub while it really is linked — say, if the neighbors complain for the duration of a loud film — you can strike the “Bass Off” setting in the seem configurations menu, available through the asterisk essential.

In February the firm included the capacity to pair a pair of RokuTV Wireless Speakers with the technique to use as rears, or you could use the $149 Onn Roku Wireless Surround Speakers, exclusive to Walmart.      

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Roku suggests inserting the rears ideal guiding the listening place but I located this makes them way too loud.


Roku

Setup of the soundbar was effortless and considerably less difficult than the competing Yamaha YAS-109, which essential a precise application (from a dozen Yamaha apps) to perform at all. In comparison, the Roku actions you through just about every stage of the approach and I was prepared to go in minutes. 

Including the Roku Tv Wireless Speakers took a minimal little bit extended — I experienced to plug and unplug them from the power a few periods just before they registered. Following they were being linked I did have a slight concern with lip synch that I essential to take care of through the M sequence Vizio Tv (you will find are no sync controls on the device).

How does it conduct?

Online video good quality was high-quality and equivalent to other Roku models I’ve examined recently, these as the Streaming Adhere As well as, and I did not observe the extended loading periods I’ve witnessed at home on my older-gen Roku Extremely. My test Vizio 4K Tv was capable to glean and show the HDR info the soundbar was sending from The Mandalorian on Disney As well as. 

The sub-considerably less Roku won’t provide considerably in the way of home cinema slam, but it has a convincing total of clarity and pop with both of those music and films. There is some bass fat in there for the music, but you could want to experiment with the controls nestled in the menus based on the written content.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

For instance, I located the bass was a minimal overpowering for our test monitor Red Appropriate Hand by Nick Cave and the Lousy Seeds. The music sounded considerably superior with the Decreased Bass setting enabled. I in comparison the seem from the Yamaha YAS-109 and located that the Yamaha made the music greater and more majestic sounding, with nevertheless discernible bass. Still no make any difference which seem manner I selected on the Yamaha, the song’s stabby organ chords sounded too harsh and tough to pay attention to. Heading back to the Roku I located the organ sounded considerably more, er, natural and organic and integrated within the music.

The Roku won’t go all that loud, but the very least it won’t distort at greatest volume. It was nevertheless properly audible within the CNET’s compact tests space, having said that, and I located the dialog at the begin Avatar’s Thanator chase scene admirably apparent. There was not as considerably of the jungle’s ambient buzzing, having said that, and neither was there any thump when the shell trees collapsed. There were being glimpses of ambience on selected appears, but it was not as involving when the motion ramped up: I felt a deficiency of hazard or dynamics as the Thanator was attacking. 

The Yamaha’s dialog was not as apparent — Dr. Grace Augustine’s voice sounded a little bit more chesty — but the jungle arrived to everyday living: Bugs appeared from on higher and the noises of the pachyderm point that rates Jake reverberated all-around the space. The Yamaha offered more of a thump with the shell trees ensuing in more drama, more dynamic selection and more bass.

I also in comparison the Roku to my favourite spending budget soundbar, the Vizio SB3621. It has the unfair benefit of a subwoofer and made its prowess with the written content apparent. The jungle arrived alive, as it experienced just before with the Yamaha, and the Vizio’s sub made my chair move in a way the sub-considerably less Roku basically could not. I essential to add the Roku sub for superior punch, but it makes the merchandise two times the cost. It really is truly worth considering the sub however, as it makes it an even superior technique.

Finally, I tried out the soundbar with the Roku Tv, and rapidly located that while you will find various seem modes — films and Tv, music and surround only — you will find no way to regulate the volume of the surrounds. As a result I essential to experiment with placement, as the recommended set up in the photograph higher than made the satellites too loud. The most effective surrounds are the kinds you want to focus on to hear, and I located that about 3 foot away sounded good. 

Though I located the the speakers and the seem bar were being in sync they were being both of those a little out of sync with the Tv but with a little bit of modifying the seem was appropriate. It did add a ton of ambience to films, but was it truly worth the $150-$two hundred improve? No. Not in the very same way that the subwoofer is. Get that initially.

Must you obtain it?

What do you want a soundbar for? Is it to perform from your current sources? Get the Yamaha YAS-109. If you are commencing from scratch or just want to hold the selection of gadgets to a bare minimum, having said that, the Roku is a high-quality decision.

As good as the Roku appears, it really is outclassed for home theater by the Vizio SB3612, and so if you are not fussed about the streamer aspect, or owning HDMI, the Vizio is a more affordable, superior option. Though its streaming is redundant for folks who now have a Roku or other streamer in their technique, the intelligent soundbar delivers a prosperity of written content and pleasant seem good quality to older TVs for not very considerably dollars.

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