Roku Soundbar and Subwoofer Review | Pulling Double Duty

by birtanpublished on May 25, 2021

Funny stories couple weeks ago Comcast announces that they're making a streaming set-top box and for whatever reason Roku stock started plummeting which I thought was ridiculous because Roku is so much more than just a streaming set-top box and this product right here is proof look if you watch this channel you know I'm a big fan of Roku not just our streaming set-top boxes but also their implementation in TVs like TCL's and Hisense Roku recently produced a pair of standalone speakers that only worked with Roku TVs this is the new Roku sound bar and if you want it the new Roku sub-woofer subwoofer

Will work with the sound bar or with the new Roku speakers but the key here is Roku sound along with a roku streaming platform built right in makes a lot of sense if you own a smart TV that ain't so smart and of course most of them don't sound so great either so you can already tell this is a pretty compact sound bar it's not particularly wide and it's certainly not too high I think it's gonna fit in front of most TVs without blocking the screen really well you can see here also that it has a matte black finish that doesn't give a rat's ass about my fingerprints and you know what

It's fairly hefty I mean for its size it's it's got some good weight to it which is usually encouraging when you talk about audio devices and then behind the screen here you can't see them but there are four two-and-a-half inch drivers in there and roku told me that they didn't want to muscle the sound with DSP it's supposed to have a more acoustic design more on that in a minute here's the back of the sound bar not a lot to see here and that's kind of the point couple of quarter-twenty threaded inserts here for wall mounting and then

In the recessed bay here we've got a USB slot we've got optical input HDMI input / output there's a reset button and then over to the side here is the the power cable port what you don't see here are any buttons and that's because you don't really need them you've got the remote control for volume there's no input switch that you need and any audio controls are gonna be through Roku's on-screen interface and here is the Roku subwoofers sold separately that way you can pair it with either bar or the Roku speakers as mentioned I like everything about this I like the

Look I like the little vents on the side and the front here I like that it's built solidly that is way better than you get with most sound bars or home theater nabob systems and if we take a peek down at the bottom what we have here is a 10-inch driver that's paper along with a foam surround and it's driven by a two hundred and fifty peak it's a 125 watt RMS amplifier now a quick note before we move on to setting this up and evaluating this is the full fledged version of the Roku sound bard subwoofer that you'll find most places Walmart has a very specialized version

It's called the onn period Roku sound bar and subwoofer I don't get the naming convention but the point is there are 50 bucks less each and they also have less power and no voice remote so the sound bar here at Walmart with the on period version is going to have 40 watts as opposed to 60 watts of amplification in the subwoofer you give up a hundred and fifty watts of amplification even though you keep the 10 inch driver in there which has me a little bit concerned about overall sound quality and then again the remote control doesn't have any voice control features best way to

Connect this sound bar is via HDMI no surprise there check the back of your TV you want to find your HDMI AARC port it'll say a RC and parenthesis right below it connect to that particular port on your TV and then the other side goes in the back of the sound bar when you do that you can control the TV's power and volume with the Roku remote which I find super handy now if you have an older TV and you're finding that's not working for you check to make sure HDMI CEC is turned on in the menu it's buried in there somewhere trust me now if you don't have a RC on your TV

Because maybe it's a little bit of an older TV you can use optical but you give up those control features and you give up a little in the terms of sound quality otherwise it's about the same now for pairing the subwoofer that's also extremely easy just plug the subwoofer in you'll see a little white light blinking on the back then you dig into the Roku menu paired a device you'll see subwoofer is an option just select it and then Roku will go through the process of pairing the subwoofer now a word of advice here don't walk out of the

Room while it does that because then it's gonna put out a test sound through the subwoofer that is extremely loud and very annoying it's going to bother your workmates if you're setting it up at work like I did but once that's done it also plays sort of a demo reel and that's also pretty loud so you want to be around to get through all that stuff then once it's done you're off to the races so let me talk a little bit about the sound control for this because there are some useful tools in here although less than I was really expecting so if we go

Into sound settings you've got several different sound modes there's normal there's reduced bass which naturally turns down the subwoofer a little bit unless you don't have a subwoofer in which case it just turns down the bass in the sound bar then there's bass off turns off the subwoofer entirely and bass boost which boosts the bass as you would expect there's also speech clarity mode which you can employ at either a low or a high level this is going to presumably make the dialogue stand out more clearly from the rest of the sound we'll talk about

How well it does that later and then there's volume mode two options here leveling sort of levels out the highs and the lows and makes a very flat sound reduces the overall volume and keeps like commercials from exploding at you and then the night mode is more of a dynamic range compressor which keeps explosions from waking up your loved ones when you're watching late at night now let's talk about performance first as a Roku streaming device I think it's outstanding it's every bit as good as the Roku 4k streaming stick and actually it moves like the Roku ultra in terms of

How fast it is so if you think of it that way between 50 and 99 dollars you're getting a Roku streamer around that amount and just tacking on a little bit extra for a soundbar that's pretty stellar now how about sound quality I mean after all that's what this thing is for on its own the Roku sound bar has enough base to you know round out the sound but it's certainly not going to move you I wish there were some more granular audio controls because I'd probably brighten up the treble just a little bit to get some more sparkle and sing out of it the dialogue clarity

Feature does work well for pushing out the vocals when you're watching a movie or a TV show though it's completely useless for music and as for the overall soundstage well it doesn't have a whole lot the sound bar on its own tends to sound like it's coming from the sound bar it doesn't really reach out into the room widely like I'd like it to now part of this may be because Roku has not used a bunch of DSP that's digital signal processing to muscle the speaker into doing things that it doesn't want to do naturally they took a very acoustic

Approach to this and so it does sound natural but it's not particularly zingy or sparkly or engaging that all changes though when you add the subwoofer the subwoofer adds a ton of punch and Rumble to this system and it also makes the whole thing sound much bigger the soundstage doesn't get much bigger from the sound bar but with that extra base presence going throughout the room it does have well let's just say this it matches up better with what you're expecting to hear when you watch a big blockbuster on the screen now how about music there I am significantly less

Impressed I don't think this is a particularly great music listening situation I mean with the sound bar it'll certainly you know become the life of a party it gets loud enough to do that but if you're looking for a really good quality sound I actually think the Roku stand alone speakers sound a lot better and for music there are other sound bars out there that just flat out sound higher fidelity should you buy a Roku sound bar well I think if you're gonna get a Roku device anyway and your TV needs improved audio absolutely I mean a Roku device is gonna cost 40 or

50 bucks at least anyway tack on an extra 120 or so for the sound bar and yeah I'd say that's a pretty stinkin great deal it's definitely going to be way better than what your TV offers on its own unless of course it happens to have Roku built right in without the subwoofer though there's not a lot of punch so don't expect a huge bombastic presence in your room to get that you're gonna have to spend another 180 bucks making the total package about three hundred and sixty dollars so where does that put it relative to other sound bars out there

Well I'd say from a sound quality perspective it's not the most flashy but then again it's got Roku built right in and it's super convenient so I'd say yeah if this sounds like the kind of product that you might want you should definitely give it a shot and hey it doesn't suit your needs from a sound quality perspective you can always send it back but I think you'll be surprised at what this combo can do thanks as always for watching everyone what do you think of the whole Roku and soundbar combo are you interested leave me a comment

Down below like subscribe hit that notification bell while you're here check out my Roku ultra streaming box review and of course visit Digital Trends calm for the latest tech news and reviews

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