Roku Smart Soundbar review: Easy controls make a big difference

    The Roku Smart Soundbar gained’t enchantment to audiophiles. This $180 speaker—Roku’s second audio providing after its Roku TV Wireless Speakers--delivers solely middling sound high quality, and there’s only one alternative for reinforcing its sonic efficiency. The function that saves this speaker is its capacity to additionally function a Roku streaming TV player, decreasing the litter round your TV—and the distant controls you’ll must preserve monitor of.

    That audio reinforcement opporutnity comes within the type of Roku’s wi-fi subwoofer, which additionally prices $180, however there’s no choice for true encompass sound, not to mention immersive audio codecs equivalent to Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. The soundbar can’t be included right into a multi-room audio system by way of Apple AirPlay 2, Amazon Alexa, or Chromecast Built-in, both.

    As a media streamer, the Roku Smart Soundbar provides the identical easy interface and broad app assist as Roku’s standalone gamers. Even higher, Roku offers fast and handy entry to audio settings that may increase bass, restrict loud sounds, and—most significantly—improve the quantity of speech. Other soundbars don’t all the time supply these choices, and after they do, they make you attain for their very own distant to entry them.

    What Roku provides here’s a fairly first rate and inexpensive soundbar for anybody who’s additionally out there for a brand new streaming participant, and particularly those that want Roku’s easy and utilitarian streaming TV platform.

    Jared Newman / IDG

    The Roku Smart Soundbar can also be a streaming TV participant.

    So-so soundbar, candy subwoofer

    The Roku Smart Soundbar measures 32.2-inches broad, 2.8 inches tall, and 3.9 inches deep, and it is available in a black plastic enclosure with a material speaker cowl that wraps across the soundbar’s sides. It’s a bit on the tall facet for a soundbar, so that you’ll wish to measure the peak of your TV’s built-in stand (if it’s not wall mounted) to verify the underside of the TV clears the soundbar’s high edge. (The soundbar itself has a pair of mounting sockets should you’d slightly not plunk it on an leisure heart, however you’ll want to purchase the mounting brackets individually.)

    Around again, the Roku Smart Soundbar has an HDMI port (with ARC assist), optical audio enter, and a USB port for taking part in native media recordsdata. There’s no analog 3.5mm enter for plugging in an exterior audio system, equivalent to your cellphone, however you may join gadgets over Bluetooth.

    rokusoundbarrear Jared Newman / IDG

    The Roku Smart Soundbar has no HDMI passthrough or 3.5mm analog audio enter, nevertheless it does have a USB port for native media.

    Inside, the soundbar has 4 2.5-inch full-range drivers, and Roku says its amplifier produces most energy of 60 watts (36 watts RMS), which places it on the decrease finish of the spectrum for a soundbar.

    Roku, in the meantime, is not going to disclose the soundbar’s frequency vary, which—together with my listening expertise—makes me suspect it’s nothing to boast about. While watching the nightclub motion scene in Black Panther, the sound of gunfire grew to become muddled at excessive volumes, and I observed a scarcity of high-frequency response from the scrapes and slashes of Okoye’s spear.

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